Thursday, November 29, 2007

Holding the presidential candidates accountable

The Brookings Institution is on an election-year push to hold the presidential candidates accountable for a more competitive metropolitan America. In a recent op-ed article in The Plain Dealer, Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of Brookings wrote:

The United States has yet to recognize and leverage the ever-intensifying primacy of metropolitan regions as the building blocks of global competition, productivity and competitive advantage. And it has yet to take the necessary steps to ensure that metros grow in inclusive and sustainable ways that enhance national prosperity.
In the same article, Katz and Berube outline specific policy areas where they would like to see more assertiveness from the federal government:
  1. Clean up of the Great Lakes - there is a cleanup plan, but no federal funding thus far
  2. Clean up land - accelerate brownfield remediation to fuel economic development
  3. Increase federal funding for sustainable transportation improvements
  4. Expand the EITC for workers
  5. Encourage interstate partnerships between metro areas (Chicago/Milwaukee, Cleveland/Pittsburgh)
Earlier this year, the Public Policy Forum hosted a presentation by John Austin of Brookings on The Great Lakes Economic Initiative (GLEI), which is a multi-year campaign to leverage the voting power of the Great Lakes into federal and state support of the region's powerful, yet struggling metro economies. There is particular interest in bolstering the profile of the Great Lakes region in the eyes of the presidential candidates.

Although federal government's leadership on metro issues has waned in recent decades with the devolution of power from Washington to the states, a more assertive federal government could have a profound impact on Milwaukee's revitalization efforts.

Whether or not you agree with The Brookings Institution's many recommendations is up to you, but, in this election year, placing each presidential candidate on the proverbial "hot-seat" when it comes to articulating a vision for strengthening the Great Lakes region does seem to make a great deal of strategic sense.

1 comment:

Steve Kroes said...

It's exciting to see the Great Lakes region getting a lot of attention in public policy circles these days. There's the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy, a recent cost-benefit analysis of implementing the strategy by CGLI and others, Brookings' Vital Center report, etc. It would be fun to be involved in economic and environmental policy in that region these days. I hope the forum does all it can to help these efforts get done right.

I think the day will come when the region is a magnet for economic growth again. Perhaps people and companies will begin to be attracted by the low cost of property one day, and if the region is positioned right (lower taxes, reasonable regulatory environment, strong amenities, including a healthy natural environment) it could leverage that attraction into some serious economic development. I hope to see that happen.