Speaking last week at the Akron Roundtable, Jennifer Bradley made plain the challenge of growing the economy in the wake of the Great Recession. The Brookings Institution scholar and writer urged the country’s cities and regions to take responsibility.
Metro areas have little choice but to embrace the challenge because the federal government appears less and less inclined to be a partner. The federal budget is being eaten up by entitlement programs, leaving little left over in the way of assistance for economic development.
Fortunately, the nation’s 100 largest metro areas are well-positioned for the task. Bradley, a co-author of the recent book The Metropolitan Revolution, noted that the largest metros sit on just one-eighth of the nation’s land area but produce three-fourths of its gross domestic product. She stressed that a key to moving forward is local collaboration, a region playing to its strengths, laying a foundation for sustained growth.
The Metropolitan Revolution includes a look at seven promising metro areas, among them Northeast Ohio, where collaboration is making a difference. Part of the formula for success involves a region rallying to a distinctive vision, based on what it does best. For this area, she cited invention, production and manufacturing.
Bradley highlighted Denver, where local political and economic development leaders came together after years of infighting. They saw they were competing against each other when they should be competing against other metro areas around the globe. That is a realization Northeast Ohio, with its many layers of local government and development groups, must not forget.
Not only does collaboration free up resources for development through administrative efficiencies, it presents a more attractive picture to businesses looking to make substantial investments. A region where leaders are able to set aside small-town rivalries and conflicts to work as a team is far more inviting than one bogged down by infighting and clashing priorities.