Toyota: How Mississippi Engineered the Blue Springs Deal

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A big crowd gathered earlier today to welcome the first Corolla that rolled off the assembly line at Toyota’s tenth U.S. plant in the tiny hamlet of Blue Springs, Mississippi. Situated in Union County, just 17 miles from Elvis’ hometown of Tupelo, the new plant is the latest new automobile manufacturing facility to fly the flag of a foreign manufacturer in the Deep South.  read more »

Major Metropolitan Commuting Trends: 2000-2010


As we indicated in the last article, solo automobile commuting reached an all time record in the United States in 2010, increasing by 7.8 million commuters. At the same time, huge losses were sustained by carpooling, while the largest gain was in working at home, which includes telecommuting. Transit and bicycling also added commuters.  This continues many of the basic trends toward more personalized employment access that we have seen since 1960.  read more »

The Next Boom Towns In The U.S.


What cities are best positioned to grow and prosper in the coming decade?

To determine the next boom towns in the U.S., with the help of Mark Schill at the Praxis Strategy Group, we took the 52 largest metro areas in the country (those with populations exceeding 1 million) and ranked them based on various data indicating past, present and future vitality.  read more »

Detroit: A Century On The Smart-Growth Grid

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The following excerpts are from a report that was intended to solve many of the planning issues facing one of America's largest cities: Detroit. Its conclusions are in many ways counter to the ‘Smart Growth’ principles being promoted by influential decision makers. It was compiled by the city's highest level planners and engineers:  read more »

Is The Information Industry Reviving Economies?


For nearly a generation, the information sector, which comprises everything from media and data processing to internet-related businesses, has been ballyhooed as a key driver for both national and regional economic growth. In the 1990s economist Michael Mandell predicted cutting-edge industries like high-tech would create 2.8 million new jobs over 10 years.  This turned out to be something of a pipe dream.  read more »

Can the Winnipeg Model Save Detroit?


Detroit, not only in the US but across the globe, has become the poster child for urban decay.  The city lost 25% of its population between 2000-2010, and over half its population since 1950.  Over 90,000 houses stand empty, and many neighborhoods have been completely abandoned.   read more »

Manufacturing Stages A Comeback


This year’s survey of the best cities for jobs contains one particularly promising piece of news: the revival of the country’s long distressed industrial sector and those regions most dependent on it. Manufacturing has grown consistently over the past 21 months, and now, for the first time in years, according to data mined by Pepperdine University’s Michael Shires, manufacturing regions are beginning to move up on our list of best cities for jobs.  read more »

Rethinking Urban Dynamics: Lessons from the Census


Much has been made of the vaunted “back to the city” movement by “the young and restless,” young professionals, the creative class, empty nesters and others were voting with their feet in favor of cities over suburbs.  Although there were bright spots, the Census 2010 results show that the trend was very overblown, affecting mostly downtown and near downtown areas, while outlying ones bled population.  One culprit for this discrepancy seems to be that the intra-census estimates supplied by the Census Bureau were inflated – in some cases very inflated.  read more »

China, Detroit, and Houston: How Ghost Properties Compare

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Learning about China's property boom and its "ghost" cities has given me a whole new perspective on my four decades in the building, land development and consulting fields. During these periods our economy has had various ups and downs. In ‘up’ times, the rise in construction of new housing and growth in commercial developments has been quite obvious. What I have always had a problem understanding is why there seemed to be new housing projects and commercial projects that sprouted up during the bad times.  read more »

The Deconstruction of Barack Obama


The first two years of the Obama Administration have been historic and eventful. The first openly liberal president in a generation has dramatically increased government spending and intervention in the nation’s economy. The federal deficit soared to $1.65 trillion dollars and 35% of Americans now receive some type of government assistance.  read more »