For Release Saturday, December 10, 2011
As I listened to the dialogue at the Citistates Group’s Pocantico retreat in late October, I was impressed by the way the conversation about regional thinking and acting had shifted from structure to form, that is to say, from governmental fiat to organic growth. Here was a new paradigm!
Given the discouraging state of affairs at the federal and state levels of government, the creation of by the state legislatures of creative interjurisdictional mechanisms, or revised federal mandates, beyond what is already in place (MPOs and COGs, for example) is a pipe dream.
What then can stimulate real progress in affirming the reality, and recognizing the necessity, of regional cooperation? It’s the a focus on creating clusters of economic development opportunity. Clusters can grow organically, and do not need official action by government to happen. Harvard’s Michael Porter has famously described clusters as “geographically proximate groups of interconnected companies and associated institutions in a particular field, linked by commonalities and complementarities.”