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How Capitalists View Cities

The Milken Institute Global Conference brought hoards of business leaders to Beverly Hills last week. Sessions included some high praise for cities and buoyant predictions about innovation, development, and accommodating six billion city-dwellers.
May 4, 2015, 7am PDT | Josh Stephens | @jrstephens310
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Lost in Angeles

As placeless as capital may seem, a huge share of the world's wealth is generated in cities. The top 600 global cities account for 60 percent of the world's economy, in fact. That's why it only stands to reason that the business leaders who attended the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills should be concerned about the health and functionality of the world's cities. 

Sessions focused on entrepreneurship in Los Angeles, global development, technological innovations, infrastructure investment, and the rebirth of Detroit. Urban problems, such as poverty and poor education, got little attention, but otherwise cities emerged as crucial places not only for living and working but also for investment and economic development. 

"You pass the Splenda to a CEO in the coffee line and realize that the annual revenue of his or her company might exceed that of a city’s budget, or even its gross metropolitan product. That’s humbling. It’s more humbling when you consider that some of these companies, from Twitter to Google to all the finance companies, hardly exist in physical space. They might employ a handful of people and deliver all of their products online."

"Connections matter more than typologies, and diversity matters more than comparative advantage does. Planners have known this for a long time. The future is about mixed-uses, placemaking, design, and neighborhoods. It’s time developers and funders figured it out too."

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Published on Sunday, May 3, 2015 in California Planning & Development Report
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