Joe Urban | Sam Newberg, Urbanist

Brookings Blueprint for American Prosperity

Dateline: 2:49 pm June 17, 2008 Filed under:

Last week I had the good fortune to travel to Washington D.C. to attend the Blueprint for American Prosperity, an event by the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. The Blueprint was the culmination of significant research and several publications on how our metro areas are the economic engines of the American economy.

The timing of the event, or “Summit,” as it was called, was to advance an urban agenda for this year’s presidential election and the new congress and president in 2009. The core argument is our 100 largest metropolitan areas (cities and surrounding suburbs) contain 65 percent of our population, generate 75 percent of our GDP and consume just 12 percent of our land mass, so therefore we need policies that maximize the potential of metro areas. We are a metro nation, thus we need metro policy.

The Blueprint looks at four key areas: innovation, human capital, quality places and infrastructure. They recommend that the federal government be a partner in the process; cities cannot simply go it alone. Furthermore, the federal government must empower cities to innovate, utilize human capital, improve infrastructure and create quality places. And the federal government must measure results and maximize performance.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Bruce Katz, who directs the Metropolitan Policy program at Brookings. He is bullish on the potential of this effort. He insists the federal government must be a good partner in empowering metro areas, but ultimately believes it is more of a bottoms up effort, and the metro areas with the best local, metro, public, private, corporate and non-profit leadership will benefit the most.

This is just the beginning. The Blueprint is a multiyear effort, and has the power to create legislatable change at the local, state and national level, supported by thorough research and all in the name of advancing American prosperity. I encourage you to go to the Brookings Metro Policy website and unearth some great information that may help you improve your metro area. Yes, it is all a bit wonky, but their work contains some fantastic maps, charts and statistics. There is a lot of work to do, and the work of the Brookings provides a solid foundation of research to affect change, especially in this important election year.

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