by Bruce Katz and Jessica A. Lee · July 14
Meet Me in St. Louis

Turns out a global pandemic can be a good time for a metropolis to plan for its future.

In 2020, amidst an unprecedented year of national crisis and racial reckoning, business and civic leaders in the St. Louis metro began the hard work of devising a new approach to economic growth in the region. Against a backdrop of decades-long economic underperformance, population stagnation and racial division, these leaders commissioned New Localism Associates to craft a 10-year plan that combined growth in quality jobs and heightened global relevance with a steadfast and broad-based commitment to inclusive growth and racial equity. They also convinced Mark Wrighton, the former Chancellor of Washington University, to lead a local team of diverse, reflective stakeholders to ensure that the work was fully grounded in local knowledge.

by Bruce Katz, Keith Bethel, Jamarah Hayner, Rick Jacobs, Colin Higgins and Andrew Petrisin · June 9
How Federal Infrastructure Spending Can Close the Racial Wealth Gap

Last week, in Tulsa, the Biden Administration announced a raft of steps they will take to close our country’s widening racial wealth gap. Central to the Administration’s wealth-building agenda are twin executive branch actions to reduce discrimination in home appraisals and to increase the targets for direct federal procurement from small and disadvantaged businesses (DBEs) by 50%, or $100 billion, over 5 years. These are laudable, bold and necessary moves.

by Bruce Katz and Colin Higgins · May 21
Financing the Inclusive City Post Pandemic: Lessons from Jane Jacobs

With the reopening of the United States fully underway and the Biden Administration aggressively pursuing seismic investments in economic and energy restructuring, it is now urgent to think clearly about how to design and deliver an inclusive recovery. To that end, we have been looking for guidance from Jane Jacobs by rereading portions of her masterpiece The Death and Life of Great American Cities (originally published in 1961) as well as her lesser known but equally prescient and idiosyncratic, The Economy of Cities (published in 1969).

by Bruce Katz, Ross Baird, Colin Higgins, Maegan Moore and Ian O’Grady · May 7
Bridging Wall Street and Main Street: Innovative Ways to Support Small Businesses

While Wall Street is booming, Main Street in America is just barely scraping by after a year of lockdowns and suppressed demand. According to estimates from Opportunity Insights, the number of small businesses currently open across the country has decreased by 32.2% compared to before the pandemic. In order for entrepreneurs and businesses to recover — and to have a recovery that provides fair opportunity for all — we need innovation in how we finance our country’s local businesses.

by Bruce Katz, Kian Kamas and Luise Noring · April 30
Tulsa and the Remaking of Urban Governance

A year ago, we wrote about how a period defined by a global pandemic, economic contraction and racial reckoning might become a catalyst for institutional transformation in cities. These profound events have simultaneously exacerbated inequities in our cities and revealed the inadequacies of the current architecture of governance within and across cities. Advancing shared prosperity and racial equity requires structural reform, which even a torrent of federal resources cannot address.

by Bruce Katz, Colin Higgins, Karyn Bruggeman and Victoria Orozco · April 15
Unpacking the American Rescue Plan: Testimony before the Philadelphia City Council

We wanted to share testimony that was presented to the Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Fiscal Stability and Intergovernmental Cooperation on April 13, 2021. The testimony builds on two signature research products published by the Nowak Metro Finance Lab and our partners — a Federal Investment Guide to the American Rescue Plan (ARP), which shows how ARP funds will flow to 84 programs from 19 federal agencies via 7 distribution channels, and the Small Business Equity Toolkit, which shows where the top 100 metropolitan areas stood before the pandemic on the number, size and sector concentration of women and minority-owned firms.

by Bruce Katz, Colin Higgins, Karyn Bruggeman, Victoria Orozco and Paige Sterling · April 2
From Federal Sources to Local Uses: Maximizing the American Rescue Plan from the Ground Up

On March 11, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) into law. The legislation makes historic investments intended to steer people and places across the country out of the worst economic and public health shock in a hundred years. It strives to make the large-scale impact that the moment demands. To do so, though, the federal government must harness the full capacities of local state, city, and county governments. As we move from policy design to deployment of the ARP, cities and counties must be in the driver’s seat.

Put simply: local leaders must first understand the totality of federal sources in the American Rescue Plan and in short order establish a clear set of local uses to drive the deployment of these funds.

by Bruce Katz, Victoria Orozco, Colin Higgins and Aaron Thomas · March 25
Introducing the Small Business Equity Toolkit

The COVID-19 crisis is America’s greatest economic shock since the Great Depression. It’s landing hardest on small businesses, the heart of local economies and community life. The pandemic has revealed not only the fragility of many of these enterprises but also the profound racial, ethnic, and gender disparities in how they are supported by federal policies, private practices, and local actions.

This social upheaval from the pandemic has also sharpened our focus. Over the past several months, the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University has partnered with Accelerator for America and The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth to develop the Small Business Equity Toolkit.

by Bruce Katz and Colin Higgins · March 12
Deploying the American Rescue Plan

Yesterday, President Biden signed the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP). The scale of intervention is historic and unprecedented as befits the devastating impact of this global pandemic.

We now shift from legislation to execution — from design to delivery. There’s a lot in the bill, including substantial flexible resources sent directly to City and County Halls. The question for cities, metros and counties now is a big one: How can communities deploy the ARP in the most efficient and equitable manner?

In what follows, we provide an overview of key provisions of the package and explain how local leaders can prepare to deploy these funds. This piece provides an overarching framework for identifying and deploying needed investments. We’ve focused on small business support to show what this could look like in practice.

A Conversation with Iina Oilinki, Helsinki Metropolitan Smart and Clean Foundation · March 4
How City-Based Ecosystems Drive Climate Solutions: The Helsinki Case

The Biden Administration has built the strongest climate team of any U.S. Administration. As this team and their Congressional allies begin to craft federal policies to address climate change, it is critical that they focus on how they can leverage and learn from cities, in the U.S. and beyond.

Nordic cities, in particular, have been at the vanguard of both climate mitigation and adaptation solutions for quite some time. Luise Noring, Torben Klitgaard, Helle Lis Soholt and I, for example, have written before about how Copenhagen is on a glidepath to become the first global city to achieve zero carbon emissions. Copenhagen’s plan is an intricate mix of concrete goals and initiatives that aim to drive change through four areas: energy consumption, energy production, green mobility, and city administration.