Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

To Succeed in the Global Arena, Leadership Is a Must

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

To Succeed in the Global Arena, Leadership Is a Must

Article excerpt

"Today's global economy creates a much more complicated collection of winners and losers," noted Washington Post syndicated columnist E.J. Dionne at the opening session of NLC's recent World Class Local Economies symposium in Orlando. Dionne, along with a panel of experts, discussed opportunities and constraints to global competitiveness facing local regions.

Holding The Vision

The session's message was about leadership. Success in the global marketplace demands it. Success also demands that local officials explain clearly to the public why it makes sense for a city, as part of a region, to compete globally.

Donna Maria Alvarado, a business executive from Columbus, Ohio, challenged participants not to leave anyone behind in the highly-competitive global economy. "You are the custodians of the soul of your communities," she said.

Alvarado asked conference participants to be clear about what their cities and regions do best.

"Back-to-Basics"

If cities don't do the basics well, they can't compete successfully in today's global economy proposed Dionne. Cities are most attractive to residents, including businesses, when they provide services effectively and efficiently. Economic development is one basic that cities must do well, and a regional approach is the way to go, he said. Bringing his point full-circle, Dionne noted cities "can't pick up garbage if they don't have a solid economic base to pay for sanitation workers.

Dionne suggested some other influences. "There is no urban agenda in the United States anymore," but he argued that the political influence of suburbs is shifting to "a new metropolitan politics." Center cities and first-ring suburbs face many of the same challenges like sprawl, and their common interests will forge a metropolitan political force. …

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