Bruce Katz and Dr. Suzet McKinney (CEO/Executive Director of Illinois Medical District) · October 17
The Illinois Medical District: Where Innovation Districts and Opportunity Zones Meet

On a visit to West Chicago earlier this year, the two of us had a chance to tour the Illinois Medical District and surrounding neighborhoods and participate in a discussion about Opportunity Zones organized by Accelerator for America and Anna Valencia, Chicago’s dynamic City Clerk.

The Illinois Medical District, or “The IMD” as it is popularly known, is the second largest urban medical district in the United States. Formed in 1941 by state legislation, it consists of 560 acres of medical research facilities, labs, a biotechnology business incubator, four major hospitals, two medical universities and more than 40 health related facilities. The IMD has more than 29,000 employees, 50,000 daily visitors and generates $3.4 billion in economic opportunity.

Bruce Katz, Luise Noring, Torben Klitgaard and Helle Lis Soholt · October 3
Scaling Copenhagen: How Cities Can Drive Climate Solutions

Dozens of mayors will descend upon Copenhagen next week for a meeting of C40, a network of the world’s leading cities committed to addressing climate change. The urgency of the gathering cannot be understated. With climate impact and climate advocacy on a meteoric rise, cities are at the vanguard of both mitigation and adaptation solutions. This is because many cities possess the powers and resources to reorient key sectors of the economy, particularly the energy, buildings and transportation sectors, that disproportionately drive carbon emissions. Cities also represent networks of public, private and civic leaders and institutions that are pragmatic at the core and less likely to be hijacked by partisan rancor and ideological polarization, the curse of our times.

Bruce Katz · September 19
Street Fight

The other night I re-watched Marshall Corry’s 2005 documentary, Street Fight, about the 2002 Mayoral race in Newark, New Jersey that pitted Cory Booker versus Sharpe James. I highly recommend this film: you will get the full measure of Cory Booker not only as an exceptional leader but as an individual accustomed to battling long odds.

The title of the documentary prompted this newsletter. There is another street fight underway in the United States between major forces: small business versus big box, owner-occupants versus absentee landlords and quality versus parasitic capital.

Bruce Katz · September 5
Too Big to Function

During the depths of the Great Recession, the jargon “Too Big to Fail” became commonplace jargon in the effort to restore order to a financial system run amok. The consolidation of financial power has multiple implications. During my exploration of Opportunity Zones, I have observed a fundamental disconnect between the compartmentalized lending and investment practices of large financial institutions (and silo-driven federal and state governments for that matter) and the small, integrated but still nascent regeneration efforts of innovative practitioners in urban communities. I call this disconnect “Too Big to Function.”

Bruce Katz · August 22
Solving for Capacity

Several months ago, in a paper I wrote for the Knight Foundation (download paper), I identified the lack of local capacity as one of the major barriers to Opportunity Zone success.

Bruce Katz · August 7
Five Transitions

As many of you know from my work with Jeremy Nowak on The New Localism as well as previous newsletters, I regard this period as an era of profound shift in power and responsibility. We are moving from a system of 20th century problem solving that was top down, led by national governments and specialized, vertically organized agencies to a 21stcentury modus operandi that is bottom up and designed and delivered by horizontal networks of institutions and leaders across multiple sectors and disciplines.

Bruce Katz and Ross Baird · July 25
Opportunity Zone: Lessons and Questions

Eighteen months have passed since the Opportunity Zone incentive created a renewed focus on investing in America’s economically distressed neighborhoods. Through our respective work, in close collaboration with Accelerator for America, we have traveled to over fifty communities across the U.S. to understand and help implement pieces of this new way to invest in American communities.

Bruce Katz · July 11

Over the past several months I have become intensely focused on how anchor institutions can work harder for the cities where they are anchored. Here is a piece I authored for The Future of Universities Thoughtbook about the role universities should play by the year 2040. The book should be published by the end of August.

Bruce Katz · June 26
The 3CDC Model

Yesterday the Nowak Metro Finance Lab at Drexel University released the first in a series of City Cases: Cincinnati’s Over-The-Rhine: A Private Led Model for Revitalizing Urban Neighborhoods.

Creation of this series was a high priority of Jeremy Nowak and myself in starting our new venture at Drexel, now (unbelievably) a year old. We believed that cities, given their immense and growing responsibilities, require new governance and finance models that organize public, private and civic capital in novel ways. Most 20th century institutions, frankly, are ill-equipped to meet the challenges of our times. They are too tired, too compartmentalized and too narrowly focused (on “housing” or “convention centers” or “stadia” or “community development”) to take the holistic view necessary to drive transformative change.

Bruce Katz · June 13
The Great Misalignment

As the 2020 campaign takes hold, Democratic candidates have been issuing ambitious proposals about the platform role of the federal government: helping people live productive lives via a robust and secure safety net and (mostly) enhanced investments in health care and housing. We have been hearing much less about how the federal government helps places build prosperous futures by mobilizing the energies and expertise of sub-national players like states, counties, cities, universities and non-profits around issues like innovation, infrastructure and climate change.