Thursday, September 23, 2010

New research on transportation networks

Rsearch by Zachary Neal, an assistant professor at Michigan State University
How has the “networking” of towns and small cities changed the way vibrant local economies are developed?
For a long time, it was America’s largest cities that were the home to the most vibrant economies — places like Chicago and New York. But what this study suggests is that size, especially population size, is no longer a major factor in the economic growth of cities. Instead, it seems that networks are significantly more important than size. What that means is that today much smaller cities like Raleigh, North Carolina, or even very small towns like Bentonville, Arkansas, can start to compete with much bigger cities — if they have a number of strong connections to other cities. It calls into question the importance of being a big city for having a big, vibrant, robust economy.

So, let me see...if we build a high speed BRT line from Nevada to California, cutting the commute by half, then Nevada cities become vibrant?
Nevada, are you listening?

The report concludes:
The results I’ve found suggesting networks are more important than size doesn’t necessarily offer a silver bullet for struggling cities. But it does suggest where city planners and officials can start focusing their attention. In the past, the strategy had been attracting new residents and growing the tax base. But this seems to suggest that strategy isn’t going to work anymore. Potentially, a better strategy will be looking for opportunities to connect with both in the regional area and farther away. That may be at least one approach for struggling cities.

In other words, Nevada? Read my blog and you can escape the depression!

Christina Hernandez dug out this gem at Smart Planet.

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