The analysis and assessment of urban competitiveness
Introduction City leaders naturally want to know as much as they can about the competitiveness of their city. Is it more or less competitive than it was a few years ago? Is it competitive in relation to other cities with which it competes for plant locations, headquarters, output, and so forth? Is it attractive to the sort of workers it wants and to investors? Necessary questions, of course, but before we can begin to answer them, there are several things that must be dealt with fi rst. For example, what is the object of the study – the city proper, or the city and its suburbs, or the urban or metropolitan region? While a mayor might be interested in the situation of the city of which he or she is mayor, the city really cannot be studied in isolation from the economic space in which it functions. This is in part a function of the economic reach of the city and in part of the availability of data for conducting the study. In the United States, we have data for the city and for the latest defi nition of the metropolitan statistical area. In most other countries there is no statistical entity between the city and sub-national entity such as the region. In Italy the provincia is between the city and the region, but it has little real reality or function. The area vasta has been tried as an augmented city space, but its application has been problematic and it is of little real use, the metropolitan area ( città metropolitana) is another administrative scale, included in the 1947 Constitution and still not really operational, despite several attempts. The situation differs in most countries, but the sub-regional entities are usually lacking in capacity, and much devolves to the city. However, the city proper is often not suffi cient since its economic reach extends beyond its borders. In the case of Munich, the city has gradually extended into the sub-regional entity Ober-Bayern. In Lyon planning is done for la région Lyonnaise. Europe is fi lled with entities that exceed the limits of the city, including some that cross national boundaries. One such example is Öresund, the region that includes Copenhagen and Northern Sjaelland, and Skåne and the cities of Malmö and Lund in Southern Sweden. Most of these urban-based regions work quite well, but they are susceptible to collapse when one of the component political entities decides to withdraw its participation, as has happened with Öresund. While a scale that transcends the city boundary is usually desirable, it is not always possible to create an effective one. Even within the US MSA, smaller
cities may balk at cooperating with the principal city, especially on major infrastructure projects such as expansion of an airport, as has been the case in Chicago. While Pittsburgh has had more effective governance through entities such as the Allegheny County Commission, one of the problems that has confronted today’s “city of distress,” Detroit, has been the lack of region-wide cooperation on, among other things, public services. Some form of regional cooperation between Detroit and its suburbs, while not in itself suffi cient, is still necessary.