The Metropolitan Revolution

August 12, 2013

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx joined us in the Columbus Region. He visited a number of great projects and was hosted by Mayor Coleman of the City of Columbus along with elected officials, civic and private business leaders.

Following the discussion about federal priorities and the path ahead for transportation funding, I was struck by a paragraph in the new book The Metropolitan Revolution by Bruce Katz and Jennifer Bradley.

“For fifty years, metropolitan areas have relied on their biggest single investor – the federal government – to finance infrastructure, housing, innovation and human capital. They have dutifully competed for federal grants and aligned their visions and strategies to the federal focus du jour. Now cities and metros are driving the conversation, making transformative investments in public goods that undergird private investment and growth. The tectonic plates of power and responsibility are shifting. Across the nation, cities and metros are taking control of their own destinies, becoming deliberate about their economic growth.”

I doubt Secretary Foxx, a former mayor, would argue with this. He may even be counting on this “bottom up” approach to help repair, maintain and grow our nation’s infrastructure and economy. Perhaps the tightening of federal resources will drive innovation, creativity and accountability.

The One Columbus regional growth strategy and the way Central Ohio led its way back from the 2008 recession is a great example of what can happen when following this approach. However, there is no doubt that federal investment and state support of critical projects is an absolute necessity to be successful over the long term, and to compete globally. The State of Ohio has been creative and aggressive with support of local infrastructure, and local public-private partnerships have acted as a catalyst for a number of world class projects in the Columbus Region. But each can be made better and accelerated when aligned with federal resources.

Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • Our team will be in Detroit and Indianapolis this week meeting with companies and consultants.
  • One Columbus and Site Selection Group are conducting a first-ever regional workforce assessment that will give comprehensive insight into the Columbus Region labor force. Please take a few moments to complete the individual survey. We also ask that you share the survey with your networks, as anyone 18+ who lives or works in the Columbus Region is invited to participate. Click here for a list of resources you can use to help spread the word.