If there's one thing we can agree on (or not!) is that innovation is needed to lead America out of its economic mess. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, tackles how the greatest recession will reshape America in March's Atlantic.
If Florida's right, city living may be the future. He argues that the US needs to move away from its postindustrial setup (suburban sprawl) to denser megaregions (systems of multiple cities and their surrounding suburbs). While the Internet may have brought us together (aww), the world's 40 largest megaregions produce two-thirds of the global economic output and nearly 9 in 10 new patented inventions. Proximity, he says, will allow ideas to move freely in areas where college graduates and entrepreneurial spirits congregate.
So what has to change? To find out,
- Knock home ownership off its pedestal: What could possibly be its cons? Areas with high home ownership have higher unemployment rates; people tend to stay put when better opportunities could be elsewhere. The tax breaks for low-interest loans could be invested in technology or alternative energy, important sectors for economic growth.
- Stimulate growth in regions poised for it: Ensure America's top megaregions, and the smaller cities inside them, succeed. Make housing affordable to all classes and address congestion issues.
- Let dying cities go: Bailouts are only Band-Aids for areas built on dying industries. Demand for today's products should let a new order reign.
- Reinvent urban and suburban space: Find ways for people to live more densely while improving quality of life. Cities should increase residential development, and mixed-use development should be utilized in both the suburbs and cities. Since cities will never be for everyone, suburbs should be better connected to each other. (Maybe Obama is on the right track?)
Ready to put on your walkin' shoes, or are you running for the hills?