North American Cities and the Global Economy

By Fry, Earl H. | Nation's Cities Weekly, November 22, 1993 | Go to article overview

North American Cities and the Global Economy


Fry, Earl H., Nation's Cities Weekly


International trade, investment, and tourism are at record levels and almost 15 million civilian jobs in the United States are now linked to global economic activity. It is anticipated that passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) would create a trading zone with 370 million people, a $6.7 trillion annual gross domestic product, and $260 billion in yearly three-way trade. How, then, can North American cities take advantage of this global economic interdependence?

The focus of a recent conference at Brigham Young University was the issue of "North American Cities and the Global Economy: Challenges and Opportunities."

During the conference, this, professor presented ten strategies for U.S. cities, with special emphasis on federal, state, and local government cooperative programs and joint public/private sector initiatives.

Pierre-Paul Prouix, Professor of Economics, University of Montreal, highlighted the growing importance of interregional economic linkages with Canada and the United States, linkages which often extend beyond state, provincial, and even national boundaries. Mr. Prouix contended that municipal governments are only beginning to comprehend the advantages of networking with one another within these evolving regional economic spaces.

Other strategies were examined which are now being used by municipalities within the European Community and how some of the European programs might be adapted in North America.

Peter Kresl, Professor of Economics, Bucknell University, focused on the determinants of the international competitiveness of cities, including the economic determinants of government effectiveness, urban planning, public/private sector cooperation, and institutional flexibility.

Political Science Professor Panayotis Soldatos of the University of Montreal, emphasized that the European Community has created a new institution to deal exclusively with regions and municipalities that provide funding and networking assistance for cities wanting to improve their competitiveness. He then suggested specific recommendations for developing city networks in North America.

Arie Shachar, director of the Institute for Urban and Regional Studies for The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focused his presentation on the largest metropolitan areas and how they may evolve into "world cities" by linking economic restructuring with new strategies of urban development.

Additional presentations focused on core cities and their suburbs and emphasized the importance of intergovernmental cooperation.

Gary Gappert, Director of the Institute for Futures Studies and Research at the University of Akron, addressed urban environmental issues and how they affect the capacity of cities to attract and maintain globally-competitive businesses. An analysis of how globalization is affecting manufacturing in urban areas was presented by Marc Levine, Professor of History and Urban Studies, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. …

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