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Productive Cities and Metropolitan Economic Strategy: The Case of Johannesburg and Akron, Ohio

Date & Time

Mar. 10, 2002
11:00pm – 11:00pm

Productive Cities and Metropolitan Economic Strategy: The Case of Johannesburg and Akron, Ohio

Summary of a meeting with Marc Weiss, Public Policy Scholar, Woodrow Wilson Center and Chairman, Prague Institute for Global Urban Development

Weiss presented a paper that he is going to deliver at the World Urban Forum in Nairobi in April 2002. The talk focused on how metropolitan areas are becoming sources of innovation, enterprise and industrialism in the growing global competitive economy. These areas transcend the traditional limits of cities, embracing various governance zones organized around production and employment generation. He noted that while there is increasing recognition of the economic roles of metropolitan areas, there are few attempts to come up with strategies that relate these zones to the perennial problems of employment creation, environmental protection, and housing. Using the example of the Greater Washington Area, Weiss indicated that there are overlapping functional needs that tie it together even though it is divided along governance lines. Over the years, the governance barriers have been denuded as the leaders have found opportunities to work together, leading to the beginning of what he called the metropolitan strategy.

In other context, he argued, a metropolitan strategy arises from one of two models: the crisis model where economic aggregation results from a deep-seated crisis such as de-industrialization, or an opportunity-based route where a catalytic event such as hosting the Olympic games jumpstarts economic integration. Akron points to the first model where the decline of the steel industry fostered new avenues of regional economic collaboration anchored on polymers and synthetic engineering. The new economic engine has had wide impact on job creation and economic development in the Akron-Canton-Kent industrial corridor. Johannesburg, on the other hand, is an example of new opportunities that stemmed from the end of apartheid. These opportunities propelled Johannesburg and Guateng province to be leaders of economic revitalization in South Africa. Both strategies have led to the same ends: improved housing, coordination in training, and new governance structures that defy the traditional boundaries of cities.

Gilbert Khadiagala, Consulting Director, Africa Project, 202-663-5681

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Africa Program

The Africa Program works to address the most critical issues facing Africa and U.S.-Africa relations, build mutually beneficial U.S.–Africa relations, and enhance knowledge and understanding about Africa in the United States. The Program achieves its mission through in-depth research and analyses, including our blog Africa Up Close, public discussion, working groups, and briefings that bring together policymakers, practitioners, and subject matter experts to analyze and offer practical options for tackling key challenges in Africa and in U.S.-Africa relations.    Read more

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