From its inception as a nation, America's great advantage over its global rivals has stemmed largely from the successful development of its vast interior. The Heartland has been both the incubator of national identity and an outlet for the entrepreneurial energies of both immigrants and those living in dense urban areas.
The term "Heartland" is commonly used to describe the region west of the Mississippi River and east of the Rocky Mountains. This region constitutes the primary focus of this report, although we believe our policy prescriptions also apply to other parts of the country that are culturally similar to the Great Plains and the Midwest, including the inland valleys of the Pacific Northwest and California, as well as parts of central Florida and Pennsylvania.
Historically, and with some exceptions -- notably the South -- the Heartland was dominated by capitalist principles and shaped by the forces of innovation, competition, and a continuous search for maximum economic return. The Heartland contributed significantly to America's development as a global economic power. Over the past century, however, the role of the Heartland declined, as the United States evolved from a primarily agricultural to an industrial and finally an information-based economy. With the move toward manufactured goods and high-end services, the focus of economic development shifted from the agricultural interior toward the great metropolitan regions.
Download "Rebuilding America's Productive Economy: A Heartland Development Strategy" Report commissioned by the New America Foundation.