Region Forward Blog

The Morning Measure: The death of distance?

Nov 22, 2010


As the transformative nature of the technological revolution of the past few decades became obvious to folks around the world much of the conventional wisdom argued that location would become an obsolete factor in our daily lives. If we can tweet and meet online from practically anywhere in the world why does it matter if you’re in San Francisco or South Dakota?

We’ve since realized that this idea – sometimes called the “death of distance” – proved largely incorrect. While it’s true that people and businesses can choose to locate anywhere and remain connected there are still essential benefits that come from being in proximity to colleagues competitors talent material sources innovation hubs such as universities etc.

For quite some time now Brookings has been pushing the notion our largest metro regions are the nation’s economic engines. In one of his most recent pieces Bruce Katz Director of Brookings’ Metropolitan Policy Program writes about the need for investment in these regions to enhance their ability to continue to drive innovation and economic growth. RF calls for such investment in education transportation energy etc. to make metro Washington a center for knowledge and innovation. In addition to investment regionalism will be critically important in this effort. As D.C. Chairman-elect Kwame Brown wrote in his piece on The Yardstick this morning:

“Metropolitan Washington boasts the fifth-largest regional market in the country which makes cooperation amongst agencies and businesses enormously complex. Each jurisdiction in the region is vying for the brightest minds and the best businesses but we must also recognize that we are living in a global economy and competition is intense. We are better positioned to prosper if we leverage our resources and band together as a region.”


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