Redevelopment Forum keynote speaker Bruce Katz on why cities and metro regions are best positioned to lead in a 21st-century economy
Why are cities and local regions best positioned to lead in the 21st century? According to Bruce Katz, the Brookings Institution’s first Centennial Scholar and the former director of its Metropolitan Policy Program, who delivered the 2018 Redevelopment Forum luncheon keynote address, these are dense ecosystems of diversity and innovation in a time when the market wants what he called “agglomeration, co-location, and concentration of assets.” They’re the vanguard of a new kind of participatory democracy — cross-sector, bottom-up, and inter-disciplinary, able to leverage distinctive assets to create jobs and opportunity.
This is a reversal, Katz says, of the governance model the United State built in the mid-20th century, which he described as “highly specialized, highly compartmentalized, and highly bureaucratic,” making it ill-equipped to deal with the complexity and multi-functionality of current challenges. Cities as networks, he said, are much better equipped, since they’re not compartmentalized — they can leverage public, private and institutional connections as needed. He calls this “the new localism,” also the title of his new book, co-authored by Jeremy Nowak and published by Brookings Institution Press.