Detroit, like many other industrial cities in the United States, has been struggling with economic decline over the past few decades. But why is this decline happening? How can it be prevented from happening in other cities? How can these cities solve the severe financial problems they face?
Cities need viable sources of wealth generation in order to continue delivering a high quality of services to their citizens. Industrialization was a major source of wealth generation, and many cities in the world have been developed around, or experienced a major growth period by hosting large industrial/manufacturing firms.
Nowadays, however, globalization and rapid urbanization are two of the main factors driving the de-industrialization of many cities around the globe. Globalization has led to the relocation of many manufacturing firms, previously anchored in metropolitan areas in Western countries, towards Asia and Latin America, in order to save costs. On the other hand, rapid urbanization has resulted in increasing demands for transport, energy, construction, clean water, and other basic urban services. This increasing demand for urban services can increase the level of pollution in cities as well as the demand for land and resources presently being consumed by industrial firms. Increasing pollution and competing demands for land (as well as water and energy) in cities can sometimes serve to push industrial firms outside the boundaries of large metropolitan areas.
Globalization and urbanization are two strong trends that seem unlikely to slow down in the near future. Therefore, it seems plausible to expect the de-industrialization of urban areas to continue. On the other hand, the demands for financing to improve the quality of services for citizens and to increase the attractiveness of the city for investors are also rising. The resulting question is how can these two seemingly dichotomous trends – an increasing demand for economic activities and a push for industrial activity to be relocated outside metropolitan areas – be reconciled in 21st century cities?
A decline in economic activities in a metropolitan area can make the area an unattractive place for working, living, and investing. This could cause the city’s population to decline, urban infrastructures to become underutilized, and could result in less money being generated for the maintenance of existing infrastructures. Poor infrastructure and a lack of investment can continue to amplify these effects, making the place even more unappealing; this negative cycle can continue until the city experiences a massive drop in population or, in many cases, goes bankrupt and becomes heavily dependent on external financial resources in order to persist.
The 11-day IGLUS Training Module in Detroit/East Lansing/Chicago held April 2015 was one of seven modules in the IGLUS Global Training Series, organized by EPFL, Switzerland, and in collaboration with Michigan State University. The aim of this 11-day training program is to understand how cities could deal with the economic challenges they are face, with a special focus on the implications of governance of large urban infrastructures. Join us now by clicking here!
American cities were among the first to face the challenges associated with de-industrialization, with Detroit being a particularly well-known case. Experts from around the world gathered in Detroit, a city that has suffered from economic challenges and is still struggling to settle its bankruptcy case, and Chicago, a city that could overcome the hard times associated with economic transition.
In Detroit and Chicago, we discussed the best practices for innovative governance of economic challenges in large urban systems. Our participants had the opportunity to learn more about how American cities function, what their current challenges are, and what strategies are available to overcome these challenges.
In the Detroit/Chicage training modules experts from the World Bank, UN- Habitat, EPFL, Michigan State University, Veolia, Transdev, Schneider Electric, and well- known practitioners working with American cities discussed the economic considerations associated with the governance of urban infrastructure systems and their respective challenges. More precisely, the following topics were covered:
IGLUS-Chicago/Detroit Module provided multiple benefits to its participants both from a theoretical point of view and with practice-oriented insights in order to gain the knowledge necessary to resolve the various economic challenges that face the governance of large urban systems. For more information, please email email@example.com.