by Bruce Katz, Deborah Carroll, Michael Pagano, Avanti Krovi and Frances Kern Mennone · November 16
Weathering The Coming Fiscal Storm: An Emergency Proposal

Three years after the first wave of the pandemic, remote work is challenging the role and function of central business districts in the United States. This disruption has already pushed down transit ridership and revenues in major US cities and metropolitan areas: it is now triggering general concerns regarding the urban fiscal health of cities since central business districts and downtowns typically generate a disproportionate share of municipal tax revenues.

by Bruce Katz, Bryan Fike, and Colleen Dougherty · November 2
Small Business Federalism: the State Small Business Credit Initiative

It is a curious moment for small businesses in America. More than three years after small businesses were a key pillar of the initial response to COVID-19, small businesses are now grappling with third and fourth order consequences from the pandemic. Supply chain challenges and labor market issues remain. Inflation, while easing, remains high. And today’s elevated interest rates meant to stem inflation have brought about a credit crunch and increased borrowing costs. In venture capital markets, we are witnessing a pullback in activity.

by Bruce Katz · October 26
Books for our Times

As readers of this newsletter know, my attention has recently turned to the profound macro forces that are reshaping our nation and the world. As an urbanist, I am interested in the interplay between the macro and the metro and the ways in which large, disruptive transnational forces (e.g., rising tensions with China, the existential threat of climate change, the accelerated pace of technological advances, the dissembling norms of democracy) come to ground and affect the shape of communities and the lives of people.

by Bruce Katz, Milena Dovali and Victoria Orozco  · October 19
The Defense Dividend and What it Means for Cities

For the past 30 years, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the notion of a “peace dividend” took hold in the United States.  To use an old metaphor, less funding for guns meant more resources for butter.

by Bruce Katz and Jacob Flores · September 28
How Cities Navigate the New Economic Order

As CIA Director William Burns asserted in a speech earlier this summer (DCIA William Burns Remarks – Ditchley 59th Annual Lecture), we are living through a rare “plastic moment” in history, one which is fundamentally remaking assumptions and arrangements that have been settled for decades.

by Bruce Katz, Avanti Krovi, Milena Dovali, and Mandi Lee · September 13
How Pennsylvania Fares amid the U.S. Industrial Transition

Note: This article was originally posted on September 12th on the RealClear Pennsylvania website (How Pennsylvania Fares Amid the U.S. Industrial Transition | RealClearPennsylvania)

By all accounts, the post-pandemic period in the U.S. is characterized by a remarkable resurgence in advanced manufacturing—a response to such challenges as rising geopolitical tensions, the climate crisis, and supply-chain vulnerabilities. This transformation, which we have termed the “industrial transition,” is being catalyzed by increased federal spending—notably, via the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the CHIPS and Science Act. Both acts confront these disparate threats by focusing on two key objectives: reshoring production and accelerating decarbonization.

by Bruce Katz and Ben Preis · August 24
The Rental Market has Changed for the Worse: Government Must Respond

America’s rental market has changed in many ways. Over the last 30 years, we’ve seen an increase in the number of landlords. We now have different types of landlords: larger landlords, corporate landlords, and laptop landlords. What was formerly a parochial, local operation has changed into a more professionalized, technology-driven business model. These multitudinous changes have coincided with each other, such that people often talk about corporate landlords and institutional investors as one-and-the-same. Yet these interrelated changes are distinct, and require us to disentangle them to understand why they pose a problem for America’s renters and America’s cities.

by Bruce Katz, Florian Schalliol, Andrew Gibbs, and Jonathan Tower · August 3
The Next Downtown: Financing Office to Residential Conversions 

As the post pandemic economy takes shape, one thing is certain. The structural impact of remote work dramatically undermines central business districts that over-emphasize traditional office work.  Historically, US office vacancy rates have hovered near 13%. As groups like CommercialEdge and Cushman & Wakefield have reported, office vacancy rates today are nearly 17%, with San Francisco at 20% and Houston above 23%. According to Brookings Institution estimates, office utilization is still less than 50% across major downtowns, indicating further headwinds for cities and landlords. This change also hits city coffers, as lower utilization results in lower office building valuations and therefore lower tax revenue. Estimates vary on the magnitude of the effect on city revenue: NYC’s comptroller estimated a decline of up to $1.1B annually or 1.4% of city tax revenues; places like Atlanta are likely to be affected at a far larger scale given their heavy reliance on commercial property taxes.  From there, the troubles compound: with fewer people coming downtown during office hours, the dominoes are already starting to fall, triggering second order effects on small business performance and transit ridership.

by Bruce Katz, Elijah Davis and Anne Bovaird Nevins · July 20
Advancing Neighborhood Commercial Corridors

Over the past several years, this platform has returned multiple times to a geography found in cities of all sizes across the country – the neighborhood commercial corridor. With many others, we documented the harsh effects of the pandemic on neighborhood serving and locally owned businesses and offered practical recommendations for local stakeholders and state policymakers alike. To the greatest extent practicable, we have tried to be grounded and granular: using Investment Playbooks to identify concrete and fundable projects that can drive a burst of inclusive growth and entrepreneurship in real places, most recently 52nd Street in West Philadelphia.

by Bruce Katz · July 14
Empowering UK Cities: Learning from the US

One of my most rewarding activities this year is to serve as a member of the UK Urban Futures Commission.