Sunday, October 18, 2009


Crosscut follow's Bruce Katz's appearance in Seattle:
Metropolitan areas or “metros” ... are the economic entities that will lead the nation forward, Katz said. “We are no longer Jefferson's nation of small hamlets. The U.S. emerged as the world's power because our metros are connected with metros all over the globe.” Katz didn’t mention Jane Jacobs, but he follows her Cities and the Wealth of Nations in asserting that prosperous economies depend not on nations but on the cities within them. Wealth is created where human capital converges, resources can be gathered on a large scale, mixtures of enterprises can fertilize each other, and major infrastructure projects can be communally developed not only to support these enterprises but to link them with enterprises elsewhere. Katz’s key term is metros instead of cities, he said, because “cities are not the places they were 50 years ago. The assets that the metro needs to compete economically are spread throughout the region,” beyond the city, in its suburbs and exurbs. “Only when you include parks, air, rail, transit, and roads does an economy get the necessary cumulative impact.”

So, Katz said, “We're a metro nation. Do we act like it? Do we organize our resources?” In the Seattle metro, not yet. Transportation problems, among many others, sorely need solutions, and quickly. "There's no reason why metropolitan Americans shouldn’t have rapid, frequent, reliable transportation.” Most important, governance of such matters throughout the region is “overly fragmented, with stovepipes and silos. It’s time to forge a common vision for the region and to put state, city, and local policy in service of that vision.” But resources still tend to be “allocated as if they were peanut butter to be spread on bread, instead of targeted to give the best return on investment. We must find a new pattern of spending, and move toward metropolitan governance.”

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