As U.S. 'superstar' cities thrive, weaker ones get left behind
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Reuters) - In the depths of the financial crisis, when the world was shunning debt and battening down for the worst, city officials here zagged in what seemed a preposterous direction and spent $600 million on a new convention center.
A decade later thousands of new hotel rooms soar over the site, including a 33-story Marriott that is just a tiny part of the investment and jobs boom that has made Nashville an envy of other cities trying to find their footing, an image cemented when Amazon announced it would put a 5,000-job logistics center here.
"Look at the skyline, see the activity - whether it is a Monday night or a Saturday night - the city is thriving," said Tom Turner, president
and head cheerleader of the Nashville Downtown Partnership.
It is in many ways a positive story of how new winners can emerge even after a devastating recession. But it also represents a major fault line in the recovery that followed: Winning places like Nashville have won big, often for reasons that can’t obviously or quickly be replicated, while much of the rest of the country has struggled to stay even or slipped behind.
It is a schism that helped elevate Donald Trump to the presidency with his massive support in less populated and slower-growing areas. The divide is also preoccupying U.S. central bankers and economists worried about what happens if large portions of the country never bounce back.
"The superstar cities have pulled so far away," said MIT economist Simon Johnson. He recently called for a $100 billion annual federal investment in basic research centered in cities like Rochester, New York, that have the base of universities and college graduates to compete as innovation hubs.
"There is no entity other than the federal government that has the capacity to move the needle on this."
Posted by: Besoeker 2019-07-21