Brookings Examines Emerging Model of Metro Innovation Districts

A growing number of metropolitan areas are incorporating urban density and connectedness into their innovation strategies by fostering innovation districts devoted to research commercialization, entrepreneurship and housing for highly skilled workers, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.  The districts combine the concentrated research activities of science parks with the accessibility and economic ties of city neighborhoods. These districts, which have emerged in the heart of Detroit, Houston, Pittsburgh and others, offer desirable work and living environments for talented workers, valuable connections for researchers and entrepreneurs, and strong potential for regional economic transformation for metro areas.

St Louis Targets Entrepreneurs, Foreign-Born Residents for Economic Growth

The St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, a group created when the St. Louis County Economic Council and the city’s St. Louis Development Corp. merged last year, has released an ambitious economic strategy for the region. Planners are calling for collaboration between the region’s economic development organizations and startup initiatives, such as Accelerate St. Louis, VentureWorks and the ongoing $100M early stage investment initiative. The plan provides tactics and metrics in six categories, designed to leverage the significant growth the region has experienced since 2010. Plan stakeholders have set the goal of becoming a top 10 region for entrepreneurs and the fastest growing major metro region for foreign born residents by 2020. Download the plan…

Detroit, Pittsburgh Boast Tech Economy Gains

Groups in the greater Detroit and Pittsburgh regions recently released reports documenting the progress these metros have made over the past few years in building thriving technology economies. Detroit’s Automation Alley found that tech industry employment in the region grew by 15 percent in 2011, outpacing growth in all of the other 14 regions used as benchmarks in the study. A report on Pittsburgh’s investment economy, conducted by Ernst & Young LLP and Innovation Works, shows the region to have grown its per capita venture capital investment levels by 34.6 percent during the 2009-2013 period.

U.S. Metro Entrepreneurship Has Not Yet Recovered from Recession, Finds Kauffman

In conjunction with its annual Global Entrepreneurship Week, the Kauffman Foundation has released a report tracking per capita startup rates in 40 select U.S. metropolitan areas since 2006. The analysis reveals that startup rates have improved in metro areas, but remain well below pre-recession levels. Data also indicates that larger metros, those with populations greater than one million, have both endured and recovered from the recession slightly better than their less populous counterparts. Kauffman does not single out a single most entrepreneurial large metro, but notes that the Miami, Denver, Los Angeles and Dallas regions have performed impressively since 2006. Download the report...

Cities’ Financial Outlook Improves in 2013

City finance officers were better able to meet financial needs in 2013 than in 2012 and, despite national economic indicators pointing to continued slow growth, improved conditions for city budgets are projected for 2014 and beyond. These are among the findings in the National League of Cities annual survey on city fiscal conditions. Sales and income taxes seem to be a bright spot for cities. In 2012, city sales tax receipts increased over previous year receipts by 6.2 percent, similar to growth levels seen prior to the recession. City finance officers also reported year-over-year growth of 4.4 percent for 2012 in income taxes and are projecting growth of 2.3 percent for 2013. The report's authors warn that city fiscal conditions remain vulnerable to external policy shifts, including cuts in federal spending. Additionally, pension and health care costs continue to be a drag on municipal budgets. Read the report.

Branding Innovation Takes off in Cities, States

Typically, marketing efforts for cities and states encompass the promotion of a variety of desirable qualities to attract businesses and creative talent. Lately, it seems the title of Chief Innovation Officer has picked up steam in localities and across states as leaders seek to brand their region as “the” place for innovation. Take Colorado, for example, where last week Gov. John Hickenlooper rolled out a new logo and slogan for the state and, at the same time, appointed a new Chief Innovation Officer charged with leading the state’s efforts to increase competitiveness.

Are Metros the Saving Grace for the National Economy?

America is moving back to its cities. A majority of people on this planet live in metropolitan areas with one million people moving to cities and metros every five days. In the U.S., the nation’s top 100 metropolitan areas account for two-thirds of the nation’s population and generate 75 percent of national GDP. This is more than a trend, according to Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution … this is a revolution. In The Metropolitan Revolution: How Cities and Metros are Fixing Our Broken Politics and Fragile Economy, Katz and Bradley claim that metropolitan areas are leading the nation in reform and innovation, and challenging the traditional federalist hierarchical structure that places federal and state governments on top with local and metropolitan areas at the bottom.

Cities Fight to Address Lingering Digital Divide

A new report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project cites that 20 percent of Americans do not have broadband access, while an additional 10 percent of Americans have broadband access via smartphones. The report suggests that age, educational attainment, and household income continue to be the defining factors for home broadband adoption. Broadband access is recognized as a driver for economic mobility, and communities across the country are addressing the issue with a range of policies that provide models for increasing affordability and access.

Cities Develop Immigrant Attraction Plans to Fuel Economic Growth

As federal immigration reform remains in gridlock, cities are leading a charge to make America more welcoming to immigrants. Driven by the potential economic growth, mayors and regional economic development organizations are moving ahead with the creation of new initiatives and entities to attract and retain high-skilled immigrants. For mid-sized, and even larger cities, high-skilled immigrants are viewed as untapped, potential tech entrepreneurs who in the past have been drawn to Silicon Valley and other tech hubs.

L.A. Follows Trend of Harbor Redevelopment with $155m Tech Cluster Project

The city of Los Angeles is working with a consortium of public and private partners to redevelop unused docklands into space that will support new industry cluster development. The project highlights a trend of high-profile projects across the country, with cities like Brooklyn and Philadelphia repurposing dockside warehouse space to seed tech startups and advanced manufacturing.


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