Urban Issues

America’s Most Competitive Metros Since 2010


The San Jose metro is adding jobs at a faster clip than any other large metro area in the U.S. since the recession. Houston, Austin, Detroit — and a handful of other metros — have also been stellar performers the last few years. But how much of the job growth in these and other metros can be explained by unique regional factors rather than national trends?  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Addis Abeba


Addis Abeba is the capital of Ethiopia and calls itself the "diplomatic capital" of Africa, by virtue of the fact that the African Union is located here. Yet Ethiopia is still one of the most rural nations in both Africa and the world. Ethiopia also appears to be among the most tolerant. Various forms of Christianity claim account for approximately 65 percent of the population, with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Coptic) holding the dominant share. At the same time there is a sizable Muslim minority, at more than 30 percent of the population.  read more »

Cities Flying Too Close to the Sun


I was honored to speak at a conference in Milwaukee over the summer called Milwaukee’s Future in the Chicago Mega-City. Chicago and Milwaukee are about 90 miles apart on I-94. There’s an Amtrak link that makes the journey in about 90 minutes. The two cities have been sprawling such that there’s now more or less continuous development along the lakefront between the two cities. Milwaukee has been a challenged city economically and demographically.  read more »

Deep in the Heart of Texas: Private Donors Build a Medical Complex the Size of a Small City


When Americans think of oil executives, they tend to conjure up the image of J. R. Ewing: slick smile, sharp suits, cowboy boots, and a 10-gallon hat packed with bluster, vanity, and greed. According to Gallup, no industry is more widely reviled than oil and gas—not even banking, real estate, or heath care. The poll found that 64 percent of Americans disapprove of its activities. Only the federal government fared worse.  read more »

Local Government in Ohio: More Accessible and More Efficient


There is general agreement that smaller units of government are more responsive and accountable to their electorates. However, proponents of larger governments often claim that this advantage also creates   higher spending and tax levels. On this basis, bigger-is-better proponents often suggest consolidating local governments to save money. Such calls have increased in recent years, with the unprecedented fiscal difficulties faced by governments from the federal to local level.  read more »

The Rise of the Great Plains: Regional Opportunity in the 21st Century


This is the introduction to a new report on the future of the American Great Plains released today by Texas Tech University (TTU). The report was authored by Joel Kotkin; Delore Zimmerman, Mark Schill, and Matthew Leiphon of Praxis Strategy Group; and Kevin Mulligan of TTU. Visit TTU's page to download the full report, read the online version, or to check out the interactive online atlas of the region containing economic, demographic, and geographic data.

For much of the past century, the vast expanse known as the Great Plains has been largely written off as a bit player on the American stage. As the nation has urbanized, and turned increasingly into a service and technology-based economy, the semi-arid area between the Mississippi Valley and the Rockies has been described as little more than a mistaken misadventure best left undone.  read more »

The Swaps of Damocles


"Privileged people don't march and protest; their world is safe and clean and governed by laws designed to keep them happy...." Michael Brock in John Grisham's The Street Lawyer (Doubleday, 1998).

"There can be nothing happy for the person over whom some fear always looms…” Cicero, Tusculan Disputations 5.62, via Wikipedia.com  read more »

The Land Premium That's Punishing Property


High land prices have all but killed the Australian housing industry.

Lower housing starts has led to lower GST revenues (house construction attracts full GST) and lower stamp duty receipts are crippling state budgets and cruelling the chances of low and middle income earners to get a start in the housing market.

What has caused this slump in housing starts? Land prices.  read more »

A Planet of People: Angel's Planet of Cities


Professor Shlomo Angel's new book, Planet of Cities, seems likely to command a place on the authoritative bookshelf of urbanization between Tertius Chandler's Four Thousand Years of Urban Growthand Sir Peter Hall's Cities and Civilization and The Containment of Urban England. Chandler produced the definitive volume of gross population figures for urban areas (cities) over millennia. Angel, takes the subject much further, describing detail how urban areas have grown over the last two centuries, both in population and continuous urban land area. The book focuses principally on population growth,  urban spatial expanse, and density.  read more »

Thoughts on Chicago’s Tech Scene


I’ve said before that I don’t think Chicago is well positioned to become some type of dominant tech hub, but should only seek to get its “fair share” of tech. However, as the third largest city in America, Chicago’s fair share on tech is still pretty darn big. If you look at what’s been happening in the city the last couple of years, I think you’d have to have to say it’s something real. Built in Chicago lists 1145 companies in its inventory, and that’s definitely something.  read more »