Sunday, December 02, 2007

Megaregions and Memphis' position in the future

The lifecycle of the urbanized world has followed a certain pattern the world over. First came the city, followed by the suburbs, which then transformed into the metropolitan region. As these metropolitan areas expand, their edges meet the edges of other metropolitan areas to eventually form a Megaregion. Megaregions are vast areas that encompass many metropolitan areas and often cross state and possibly national boundaries.

In early 2007, the Policy Research Institute for the Region and the Regional Plan Association brought together experts in urban planning, housing, and economics to think about the implications of the Megaregion. This group identified 10 megaregions that will emerge in the near future. The map below outlines the 10 regions:

Much like cities, each region has its own unique personality. The table below identifies some characteristics of each megaregion:

Below is a summary of each megaregion and their export industries:
  • Northeast – the human capital-intensive sectors of finance and business services and the more traditional sector of wholesale trade
  • Northern California – similar to the Northeast; finance and insurance and professional services; agglomeration of technology producers
  • Cascadia- information producer
  • Midwest – manufacturing; some degree of business services
  • Texas Triangle – manufacturing; energy sector; some degree of business services
  • Southern California – manufacturing; some degree of business services
  • Piedmont – manufacturing; some degree of business services
  • Arizona Sun Corridor - manufacturing; some degree of business services
  • Southern Florida – health care and social assistance; some degree of business services
  • Gulf Coast – health care and social assistance; some manufacturing; the most economically troubled

The study of megaregions is important because this new worldview may change the way control is distributed. How should control be distributed across the following policies?

· Economic Development
· Education
· Transportation
· Housing

So what becomes of our lovely city of Memphis, Tennessee that is left out of the megaregions of tomorrow? Do we just become a distribution hub where packages and people travel on their way to a “real” city? Will Memphis become a city full of low-wage distribution jobs and blues musicians? In a world of megaregions, should Memphis focus on being a niche player? If so, what is our niche? These are questions that we must answer or we will have to answer to the consequences.

SOURCE: The Economic Geography of Megaregions

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