"Many newly successful cities on the global stage—such as Shenzhen and Dubai—have sought to make themselves attractive to businesses based on price and infrastructure subsidies," three-term New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says in an opinion piece in the London-based Financial Times.
"Those competitive advantages can work in the short term, but they tend to be transitory," he writes. "For cities to have sustained success, they must compete for the grand prize: intellectual capital and talent."
In Bloomberg's view, competitiveness used to be outside of a mayor's domain. Competitiveness was decided at a national level. But today cities need to make the right moves, he says. That means many things: great parks, safe streets, extensive mass transit, and a sense that exciting things are happening.
Brooklyn, he suggests, is attracting hordes of recent college graduates because of the exciting developments there in music, art, design, food, shops, technology, and green industry.
With so many different qualities contributing to a city's appeal or lack of appeal, readers will probably disagree as to which elements are the most important, and where the mayor of a lagging city should institute the first changes. But Bloomberg's conclusion is clear on this point: Leading cities must pursue strategies that were once thought to be only the purview of national governments.
For more in-depth coverage on this topic:
• Subscribe to Better! Cities & Towns to read all of the articles (print+online) on implementation of greener, stronger, cities and towns.
• See the March 2012 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. Topics: Traffic congestion, Zoning, DOT mainstreams livability, HUD's Sustainable Communities, Transit-oriented development, TOD tips, Form-based codes, Parking minimums, New classical town, Urban retail, James H. Kunstler, Placemaking and job growth, Maryland's smart growth.
• Get New Urbanism: Best Practices Guide, packed with more than 800 informative photos, plans, tables, and other illustrations, this book is the best single guide to implementing better cities and towns.
• See the January-February 2012 issue of Better! Cities & Towns. Topics: Value capture and transit, Social networks aid downtown, Live smaller, Rentals are market key, Streetcar inspiration, Box building, Civilizing suburbs, Alley houses, Sprawl repair, Healthy communities, Funding for infrastructure, Chicago River reversal.
• See the December 2011 issue of New Urban News. Wall Street and urbanism, streets to plazas, Sustainable Communities grants, Choice Neighborhoods, TIGER grants, buyers prefer smart growth, protecting historic buildings, public health and planning, redevelopment in Georgia, Ecovillages, parklets.