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Expanding Urban Opportunity

Addressing the economic challenges faced by depressed urban areas is key to reinvigorating the American economy and increasing access to opportunity.

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idea_bulbThe nation’s cities are the engines of the U.S. economy, creating opportunities for the entire country, including suburban, rural, and tribal areas alike. America’s top 100 metro areas alone account for at least three-quarters of the nation’s gross domestic product. Cities bring people and firms together in relatively close proximity, which in turn drives innovation and leads to positive economic benefits and growth. In addition, many American cities are leaders in global sustainability due to their population density. New York City, for example, has a larger population than most states but uses less energy than any of them. Cities are also on the cutting edge of culture and, as such, tend to attract residents who are accepting of people of all backgrounds and lifestyles. For these reasons, among others, urban areas create rich economic, educational, and social opportunities that foster and encourage diversity.

It is not surprising, then, that more Americans are moving to urban areas in recent years. Between just 2010 and 2013, Los Angeles alone gained 65,000 people compared with 97,000 over the entire previous decade. In fact, according to a study by the Urban Land Institute, some of the largest segments of the U.S. population, including Millennials and Latinos, express a higher than average preference for living in cities. In addition, roughly 62 percent of Americans who are planning to move in the next five years would prefer to settle in mixed-use neighborhoods, which are prevalent in urban areas.

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