Washington, D.C. – Bruce Katz, Vice President and Founding Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, told over 200 D.C. area officials at the Council of Governments annual meeting today that metropolitan regions, rather than the federal government, will play the lead role in shaping the 21st century economy.
Katz discussed several themes from his book, The Metropolitan Revolution. It states that in cities and metropolitan areas across the nation, leaders are “taking on the big issues that federal officials in Washington won’t, or can’t, solve.” He pointed to budget projections that show the percentage of federal discretionary spending will decrease significantly over the next decade. Katz noted this trend will adversely affect investments infrastructure, education, housing, and research and development—areas critical to growing and maintaining a healthy, competitive economy. Given this reality, he said it is up to leaders of cities, states and metropolitan regions to work together with their private sector and nonprofit partners on projects that will spark innovation and economic growth.
“Each of you may be powerful on your own, but when you really come together to do great things, that’s when two plus two equals five,” Katz said. Referring to the birth of innovative ideas, he recommended that regional leaders take three major steps. First, he said regions must create a network, meaning jurisdictions should collaborate to compete and solve problems. Then, he said they must set a vision. Finally, Katz said a region must find its “game changer,” such as pursuing manufacturing or new technologies.
During the discussion, COG officials asked Katz for his opinion on metropolitan Washington’s competitive advantages. He said the region was a leader in smart land use, sustainable development, and transportation. He cited the Metro system as a major accomplishment and critical asset. Katz said the region’s top challenge, as home to the nation’s capital, will be adjusting to a future with less support from the federal government.
“We were very pleased to hear Bruce Katz’s message in support of regional cooperation and innovation, which aligns closely with our Region Forward vision and Economy Forward plan,” said COG Executive Director Chuck Bean. “In 2014, the Council of Governments, our member governments and partners will continue to build on our many competitive advantages, such as the Metro system and smart land use in the region’s Activity Centers.”