Metropolitan areas in the United States and other mature economies face out-sized challenges in the aftermath of the Great Recession. At the most basic level, U.S. cities and metropolitan areas need more and better jobs. According to the March 2014 Brookings Metro Monitor, the number of jobs in 61 of the 100 largest U.S. metro areas are still lower than their pre-recession peak; incredibly, job levels in 23 metros are more than 5 percent below their pre-recession peak. At the same time, the number of people living in poverty and near poverty has grown precipitously in the largest 100 U.S. metros—from 48 million in 2000 to 66 million in 2012— due not only to the recession but broader trends around wage stagnation and economic restructuring.10 Beyond these economic and social demands, cities are on the front lines of addressing enormous scale and environmental challenges given federal gridlock and the absence of leadership in many states.
In the face of these challenges, cities and metropolitan areas are experimenting with new approaches to economic development and sustainable development that focus on growing jobs in productive, innovative, and traded sectors of the economy while concurrently equipping residents with the skills—particularly STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills —they need to compete for and succeed in these jobs.11 These new approaches try to build on the distinctive assets and advantages of disparate places rather than merely pursuing heavily subsidized consumption-oriented strategies (e.g., building the next sports stadium, convention center, or performing arts facility) that yield low quality jobs or aspiring to unrealistic economic goals (“becoming the next Silicon Valley”).
Innovation districts are a key part of the new wave of local economic development and advance several critical objectives...
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Source: Brookings Institute