Cities Expand Horizons - Globally

By Brookes, James | Nation's Cities Weekly, October 11, 1993 | Go to article overview

Cities Expand Horizons - Globally


Brookes, James, Nation's Cities Weekly


"America's cities and towns, in order to prosper in the 21st century, must become truly international communities. The most successful will be closely connected to the rest of the world--through trade, transportation, technology, education, arts and culture."

"They will fully understand that the competition for markets and jobs is now genuinely global." So begins the soon to be released 1993 Futures Report on Cities in the Global Economy, authored by NLC's Advisory Council.

As if to reinforce this finding, commentator and columnist Neal Peirce, in his new book Citistates, paints a similar picture. "Across America and across the globe, citistates are emerging as a critical focus of economic activity, of governance, and of social organization for the 1990s and the century to come."

The appearance of these two reports seems timely, considering the current world economic condition. The debate surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), trade talks under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the gyrations of the Tokyo stock market all are interconnected and have an impact on the economic health and future vitality of city and regional economies.

On behalf of its members, NLC has been building its capacity to inform and assist local leaders with the challenges presented by increased global economic competitiveness. Perhaps the most visible achievement to date is the 1993 Futures Report to be released at the Orlando Congress of Cities. The role of city officials in the broader global economy is likely to become the most critical factor driving the economic development plans for local governments over the next ten years.

Early International Awareness

NLC's focus on international issues began well before 1993. Back in 1984, NLC's International Economic Development Task Force, under the direction of former mayors Henry Cisneros and Andrew Young, published the report International Trade: A New City Economic Development Strategy. The report's recommendations were designed to foster international business development. |Most communities," the report said, "have businesses that produce export quality products. For local governments, the key factor is a willingness to develop an international awareness among local businesses, and to help them move into new foreign markets."

That early message has been heard by many communities. Today, cities and towns are redefining their economic development agendas so as not to be left behind in the global competition for jobs and investment. Magazines such as World Trade regularly publish their list of top ten international cities. …

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