The growth of U.S. cities is largely rooted in the nation’s industrial past. As industry boomed, local governments constructed roads, sewers, and water systems, making it easier to live and work in densely populated areas. An increasing number of factories opened, public transportation expanded, and workers formed neighborhoods nearby. In short, cities grew alongside their businesses, and these firms employed workers, paid taxes, and purchased goods and services from other businesses. Not only did businesses make economic contributions to these cities, their owners and management teams provided civic leadership that, in some cases, served as a powerful enabler for taking on visionary projects.
The role of businesses in cities has become markedly different over the past few decades. Suburbanization, technological innovations, and globalization have each shifted the idea that businesses are rooted in communities. Communities across the country continue to experience the devastating effects of factory closings, and many of the jobs lost during the 2007 Great Recession will not return as businesses are forced to adapt to a new economic climate. Furthermore, only about one-quarter of low- and middle-skill jobs are accessible within a 90 minute-commute in metropolitan areas.
For more on this idea, please see: