April 2 (Bloomberg) -- New York ranks first as a global business center in a worldwide survey of cities, the fourth such recognition of its influence in the past five months.
London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong trail New York on the Global Cities Index, released today by Bloomberg Rankings. Beijing and Shanghai emerged as potential rivals within 10 to 20 years, according to the index.
The survey examined 66 of the world’s busiest commercial urban centers, judging each on the scope of its business activity; labor force; access to media and information; cultural amenities; and political influence.
“Our goal was to find a measure that would help corporate and government decision-makers determine which of the world’s cities will best attract and shape the future flow of people, ideas, capital and goods,” said Mike Hales, a partner at A.T. Kearney, a Chicago-based consulting firm that helped Bloomberg conduct the study.
The rankings support similar findings by The Economist and Euromoney magazines, which each published studies concluding that the most populous U.S. city remained the world’s premier urban business center.
More recognition came from Singapore last month, when New York received the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize, which recognized “leadership and achievement” in policies to conserve energy, create parks, increase public safety and plan for affordable housing.
Catalysts for Growth
“With more than half the world’s people now living in cities, and with three-fourths of the people on Earth expected to be city dwellers by midcentury, cities around the globe, including New York, must confront all the effects of this urban growth,” New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in accepting the award in Singapore March 21. “Such projects can also be catalysts for private-sector investment.”
The mayor is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.
Investments in public transportation, cultural amenities, education, public safety, sustainable energy production and conservation have become major considerations as cities work to retain a competitive edge, corporate executives and government policy makers said in interviews.
“We know that the No. 1 position we hold today is coveted and that the world is changing quickly around us, and that cities around the world are continuing to invest to strengthen their competitive positions,” said Seth Pinsky, president of the New York City Economic Development Corp., during a March 23 talk to executives at Citigroup Inc. He was there to accept the honor from Euromoney, which published the rankings in its November issue.
New York may be challenged to retain the top spot. Trends that may reduce its influence include “the growing chasm between the very rich and the poor,” said James Parrott, chief economist at the Fiscal Policy Institute, a New York-based research and education organization backed by organized labor.
“It weakens our consumer base, makes it harder for the city to remain a truly open society with lots of opportunity, and -- although it’s a national problem -- not enough local leadership has been focused upon redressing that,” Parrott said.
Polarization in Washington, driven by “backward-looking perspectives held by people who even deny the reality of climate change, presents a risk for the city and the U.S. in competition with the rest of the world in the 21st century,” Parrott said.
A.T. Kearney measured 25 variables across five criteria to calculate how 66 of the world’s largest cities stack up against one another, said Andres Mendoza Pena, a principal of the company. New York led on human capital and information exchange, though it trailed London and Paris for cultural experience.
Analysts counted accountants, lawyers, advertising agencies, management consultants, engineers and other business-service firms, and looked at how many global companies established offices there, he said.
They checked Shanghai’s Jiao Tong University ranking of universities and considered how many foreign-born residents were included in a city’s population to judge the strength of its labor force. They pored over Frommer’s, Michelin and Zagat guides, and counted museums, theaters, sporting events and restaurants to gauge cultural amenities, Pena said.
Bloomberg has touted the city’s schools, where spending has doubled to $24 billion in the 10 years he’s been mayor, police practices that helped to reduce crime by about 35 percent since 2002 and investments in parks, museums and other cultural amenities that attracted a record 50.5 million visitors in 2011.
Consistent with those goals, the city awarded $100 million in infrastructure support and land on Roosevelt Island to Cornell University and the Technion Israel Institute of Technology after the schools won a competition to create a 1.3 million-square-foot engineering campus that the mayor said would create thousands of jobs in the next 30 years.
A.T. Kearney concluded that New York’s diverse economy, driven by media, arts, fashion, technology and finance, and its diverse labor force made the city the world’s most attractive to conduct business. In the past two years it has eclipsed Boston to become second only to California’s Silicon Valley as a source of venture capital, according to the city officials.
Rankings can’t capture some of the most important qualities that set top-rated cities such as New York and London apart, Bloomberg wrote March 27 in The Financial Times.
“For cities to have sustained success, they must compete for the grand prize: intellectual capital and talent,” Bloomberg wrote. “Talent attracts capital far more effectively and consistently than capital attracts talent.”
The mayor cited recent college graduates’ migration to the borough of Brooklyn, where inexpensive commercial and residential real estate have fostered creativity in music, art, design, food and energy-conserving lifestyles and building construction.
“Being cool counts,” Bloomberg wrote.
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