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CityLab
Economy

It’s Time to Put Cities at the Top of America’s Economic Agenda

The U.S. economy today is actually a collection of regional economies. We need a national place-based strategy that recognizes local differences.

Older industrial cities like Cleveland have been pioneering their own regional economic development strategies for the past several decades, but with limited federal support. 

Older industrial cities like Cleveland have been pioneering their own regional economic development strategies for the past several decades, but with limited federal support. 

Photographer: Dustin Franz/Bloomberg

Not long ago, America was the world’s unquestioned leader in innovation. As late as 2000, the U.S. was home to more than 95% of all venture capital-backed startups in the world — companies like Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, which continue to rank among the most highly valued companies in the world.

But the competitive edge is fading. The U.S. now attracts just slightly more than half of the world’s venture capital-backed startups, as global cities like Shanghai and Beijing, Mumbai and Bangalore, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, Stockholm, Tel Aviv and Toronto have developed thriving startup ecosystems. Alongside its declining innovation prowess, America’s productivity has stalled.