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What Government Shutdown? Metros Open for Business

The U.S. Capitol building is seen on Tuesday morning after the federal government was shutdown when the House and Senate failed to pass a budget in Washington (REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan).

For months I’ve said, “the federal government, like Elvis, has left the building,” and people laughed. Now we are in a government shutdown, and it’s not funny. 

But as I travel around the country, I see metropolitan leaders who are doing the opposite. Every day, they’re doing the hard work to build their economies and grow jobs. This shutdown further exposes that the responsible leaders in this country are primarily in our cities and metropolitan areas. 

Real change happens where you live. (It sure isn’t happening at the federal level.) In many respects, this shouldn’t be surprising to us. Metropolitan areas have long been the engines of our economy and the hubs of trade and investment. Now they’re also at the forefront of policy innovation. Networks of metropolitan leaders are investing in infrastructure, making manufacturing a priority and equipping workers with the skills they need. 

For everyone who is tired of our dysfunctional federal government, this metropolitan revolution offers a path forward. Metropolitan areas are succeeding in spite of grave economic and political challenges at the national level. As this shutdown continues, my colleagues and I will share some of these recent metropolitan examples on this blog. Here are some to start us off:

  • Boston is expanding its Innovation District, which has added more than 5,000 new jobs in the last four years

  • Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled safe playground facilities, part of the "Building a New Chicago program," a $7.3 billion infrastructure renewal initiative

Please contribute your suggestions in the comments section and on Twitter with #MetrosDontShutDown.

  • Bruce J. Katz is a vice president at the Brookings Institution and founding director of the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program. He is also co-author of The Metropolitan Revolution (Brookings Press, 2013), a distillation of his work on the emerging metropolitan-led "next economy" and its practitioners around the country working to produce more and better jobs driven by innovation, exports and sustainability.

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