Policy

Enterprising States 2013: Getting Down to Small Business

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The following is an exerpt form a new report, Enterprising States, released this week by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and written by Praxis Strategy Group and Joel Kotkin. Visit this site to download the full pdf version of the report, or check the interactive dashboard to see how your state ranks in economic performance and in the five policy areas studied in the report.

Nothing better expresses America’s aspirational ideal than the notion of small enterprise as the primary creator of jobs and innovation. Small businesses, defined as companies with fewer than 500 employees, have traditionally driven our economy, particularly after recessions. Yet today, in a manner not seen since the 1950s, the very relevance and vitality of our startup culture is under assault. For the country and the states, this is a matter of the utmost urgency.  read more »

Visions of the Rust Belt Future (Part 1)

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“Men often applaud an imitation and hiss the real thing”--Aesop

There are interesting developments being played out in the Rust Belt. Some cities, like Detroit, seem to be embarking whole hog down the creative class path. Others, like Pittsburgh, have their own thing going on, a thing Economic Geographer Jim Russell has delineated as the “Rust Belt Chic” model of economic development, with no modest amount of success. How a given Rust Belt city reinvests will have a large say in its future.  read more »

Megacities And The Density Delusion: Why More People Doesn't Equal More Wealth

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Perhaps no idea is more widely accepted among urban core theorists than the notion that higher population densities lead to more productivity and sustainable economic growth. Yet upon examination, there are less than compelling moorings for the beliefs of what Pittsburgh blogger Jim Russell calls “the density cult,” whose adherents include many planners and urban land speculators.  read more »

Density Boondoggles

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Is it density or migration? Venture capitalist Brad Feld weighs in:

The cities that have the most movement in and out of them are the most vibrant.

The densest city in the world won't be as vibrant as the city with the most talent churn. Yet planners and urbanists tout the former over the latter.  read more »

CEO Bonuses: Who Pays the Price?

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Because so many chief executives of failed or mediocre companies have walked away with millions in bonuses and swag bags, both Switzerland and the European Union recently voted to put a cap on corporate bonuses, limiting them to a small multiple of base salary. What prompted the acceptance of the “Minder Initiative”—named after the independent parliamentarian who sponsored the referendum — is a string of stunning business losses that had no affect on the bonuses paid to the sitting executives.  read more »

U.S. Could be Courting Trouble in Europe

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One of the most fascinating aspects of Barack Obama's presidency stems not so much from his racial background, but his status as America's first clearly post-European, anti-colonialist leader. Yet, after announcing his historic "pivot" to vibrant Asia, the president, the son of an anti-British Kenyan activist, recently announced as his latest foreign policy initiative an economic alliance with, of all places, a declining, and increasingly decadent, Europe.  read more »

What Killed Downtown?

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What Killed Downtown?: Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls
by Michael E. Tolle

For those of us who have grown dyspeptic on the over-indulged topic of the collapse of the American city center, Michael Tolle’s What Killed Downtown? Norristown, Pennsylvania, from Main Street to the Malls earns much of its anodyne appeal by straying from a commonly accepted convention in urban studies—that an analysis of the socioeconomic decline of a community should draw heavily upon socioeconomic variables. Isn’t there another way to get the point across? And more importantly, aren’t there other contributing factors?  read more »

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education in Landing a Job

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North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory made waves when he said on syndicated radio that he wants to encourage the funding of four-year programs that align with the job market — not those, like gender studies, that do little to help a graduate’s employment prospects.  read more »

The Psychology of the Creative Class: Not as Creative as You Think

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"Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower"
–Steve Jobs

Behind every sociological movement is a psychology. The ever-growing creative classification of America is no different. The following teases the psychology of the movement apart.

Why do this?

Because it is needed. The costs of blindly acquiescing to copycat community building are too great. These costs are not simply aesthetic, even economic, but are costs in the ability to distinguish creativity from repetition, and ultimately: truth from fiction.  read more »

Gentrification and its Discontents: Notes from New Orleans

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Readers of this forum have probably heard rumors of gentrification in post-Katrina New Orleans. Residential shifts playing out in the Crescent City share many commonalities with those elsewhere, but also bear some distinctions and paradoxes. I offer these observations from the so-called Williamsburg of the South, a neighborhood called Bywater.

Gentrification arrived rather early to New Orleans, a generation before the term was coined. Writers and artists settled in the French Quarter in the 1920s and 1930s, drawn by the appeal of its expatriated Mediterranean atmosphere, not to mention its cheap rent, good food, and abundant alcohol despite Prohibition.  read more »