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How Mayors Can Drive Inclusive Growth

In the race to create innovation districts in low-income urban areas, city leaders play a key role.  
The @4240 Facility is part of St.Louis's CORTEX District (Center of Research, Technology and Entrepreneurial Exchange), an emerging innovation hub of university and private technology firms that will eventually include housing and retail.
The @4240 Facility is part of St.Louis's CORTEX District (Center of Research, Technology and Entrepreneurial Exchange), an emerging innovation hub of university and private technology firms that will eventually include housing and retail. @4240.com

At the end of June, mayors across the United States came together at the 85th annual meeting of the United States Conference of Mayors to debate the federal budget, climate change, and how mayors are now well positioned to support innovative growth in cities. This last topic, urban innovation, will be part of a broader agenda of re-enforcing local power in the face of uneven, if not uncertain, support from the federal government.

Over the past year, our two organizations—the USCM and the Brookings Institution—and the Project for Public Spaces have worked together to capture a new model of growth that is emerging in cities and the particular roles that mayors can play in supporting it. At the June USCM meeting we released a handbook that offers concrete strategies for mayors to facilitate the rise of innovation districts. Innovation districts are small geographic areas within cities where research universities, medical institutions, and companies cluster and connect with start-ups, accelerators, and incubators. They reflect profound market and demographic dynamics that are revaluing proximity, density, walkability, and accessibility—in other words, the natural strengths of cities.