European Cities Marshaling Civic, Private Organizations To Design Economic Initiatives

There is no doubt that Europe remains embroiled in an economic crisis and is looking forward to an even greater one – the crushing debt on future generations due to entitlement programs and failed liberal policies. But there is a glimmer of hope shining from several cities on the continent from Amsterdam to Stockholm, according to a recent report from the United Nations’ Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Municipal leaders are moving away from the decentralized power of the European Union to join with public, private, and civic leaders to deliver economy shaping initiatives that are innovative and, hopefully, stimulating.

The report focuses on the two previously-mentioned cities, as well as on Hamburg, Germany, and Manchester, England, a city that has embraced and accepted the new globalized economy.

“Successful local economies develop a distinctive approach to investment planning, appraisal and attraction in order to build capacity and create jobs. Greater Manchester’s economic leadership team take a very proactive approach to target markets. Its Airport City, located within Manchester Enterprise Zone, is the city’s premier development opportunity marketed internationally, especially to China,” says the report.

It is not surprising that the competition spurred by globalization has benefitted some cities, while burdening others.

“The emerging competition among cities clearly favoured some cities while others struggled to cope with cuts in central government subsidies. Locales embedded in metropolitan regions with a future oriented economy saw opportunities to growth in this new landscape while cities burdened by a declining industry and decreasing population faced significant challenges,” wrote Jon Pierre in a May commentary published by the London School of Economics.

 

According to the OECD report, transparency will be key to ensuring progress continues and failures are avoided.

“Local economic development is an arena where a high degree of interaction with the private sector occurs. The risk is that the rent-seeking imperative of some private sector actors will distort the decision making processes and prioritise the internal rate of return for certain firms or employers at the expense of the external rate of return where the whole local economy and wider population can benefit,” says the OECD.

“Undertaking this leadership role whilst avoiding conflicts of interest and vested interests, undue influence or corruption, or exposure to favouritism is especially important. Transparency is a critical tool in ensuring that citizens remain confident that their leaders are acting in the interests of the local economy as a whole,” it concludes.

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