The Real Economy


No conference like this can not talk about the economy.  Joel Kotkin, Senior Fellow at the Davenport Institute for Public Policy at Pepperdine University, and a Senior Fellow at the Milken Institute in Santa Monica, Calif.is the raconteur for the morning's opening session on just that topic.  Cities and regions are always in competition with each other and ultimately, the question is one of survival.  Cities come and go, at least in terms of their relevance.  An interesting fact: the longest run for any current city as a "place that matters" is London at 400 years.  There's a link here to Emergence.  Some interesting issues that change cities:

  • People can live anywhere they want (relatively speaking) and are not as tied to a place as much as they used to be.  Interestingly, this leads them to be less nomadic than their parents.  This could spell trouble for places like New York and San Francisco.    To wit: San Bernadino/Riverside CA is the fastest growing economy in the US. 
  • There is a sociological return to family, stability, and faith.
  • Terrorism makes a number of cities less livable than others.  New York and DC, for example, have a lot of symbolic targets.  People in urban areas are twice as concerned about terrorism as rural folks.  Terrorism causes companies to disperse their systems, data, and people. 
  • More and more companies are moving technical operations to heartland communities because they have well educated, hardworking people who can be hired for a reasonable salary and enjoy the quality of life.  
  • It is a mistake to believe that when the economy recovers things will be just like they were.  He tells the story of talking to a group of developers from New York City who said "smart people have to be here."  In fact, New York hasn't made much progress in 40 years.  140 of the Fortune 500 were located in New York in 1960.  now, only 39 are locate there.  The same is true of the Forbes 400 richest people: 80 lived there in 1960 vs. 48 now.   The fact is, smart people don't have to be in New York and techies don't have to live in Silicon Valley. 

Joel ends on the note that the availibility of information is leading to what he calls a "new citizenry" that is able to make independent of the developers, enviros, labor unions, and others who have traditionally driven much of public policy.  I think this ties in nicely to my theme of eGovernment, ultimately, being about transparency and accountibility