Think the best way to promote the economic and creative development of a city is to build stadiums and and shopping malls? Think again. In a recent article in the New York Times, Steve Lohr reveals the findings of a study from the Brookings Institution that looks into where and why specific cities emerge as hubs of creativity and innovation. By studying the patent filings of the United States' 370 metropolitan areas, the study revealed that cities with the most innovation were centers of education and research. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, California; Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont.; Rochester, Minnesota; Corvallis, Oregon; and Boulder, Colorado topped the list as the "output of innovation. Lohr suggests that this data can help promote policies that encourage urban development for economic feedback.
More after the break.
As the US economy struggles to bounce back from its crippling decline, the factors of economic development have been keenly observered in numerous studies, citing cities that have had a strong recuperation and stability in the years following the start of this recession. As architects and urban planners discuss ways in which cities can deveop in the future, statisticians are looking at current success stories.
There are many factors that attract people to large metropolises, and many politicians take the route of building attractive plazas, shopping centers and cultural hubs. But cities with higher education levels in specific fields that sponsor research and university communities statistcally do better economically than their counterparts.
Suffice it to say, education is a critical stepping point to improving a population's competitiveness in local and global markets. Brookings' research suggests that cities with higher college education rates, specifically in majors like science, technology, engineering and math also show higher incomes and likely a higher standard of living. Emphasis on this type of city programming proves to have longer lasting effects on economic resurgence creativity and innovation. This is in contrast to the "school of thought" that stimulating consumption is the route to economic recovery. As quote by Lohr, Jonathan Rothwell of the Brookings group says that those investments "prove to be made on a house of sand" and show that cities, like Stockton, California, declare bankruptcy after such investments.
Observable evidence suggests that the middle class has been the hardest hit during the recession, so it is safe to assume that investments into consumption-based building does not have as much positive effect as previously suggested. Simply put, the middle-class is not willing to spend more in the short term because the economy is not stable enough to promote such consumer behavior.
So what can urban planners and policy makers do to promote economically viable city functions? The Brookings report along with Lohr's article suggest that looking into Small Business Innovation Research, a program that recieves federal grants, and research-based universities, are the safest long term strategies to kick starting an economy that has creativity, innovation and culture built into its model.
See the Brookings Institution Report here .
Via New York Times; Patent Producers Clustered in Only a Few Cities by Steve Lohr