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About the Global Cities Initiative

“Representing Louisville-Lexington, it struck me as I listened and spoke in these sessions that the enduring value of the GCI work has been not just to convene some of these top 100 metropolitan areas, but to deputize us—to imbue us with a sense of the critical role of these cities in the future of countries vying to be counted among the leaders and innovators of the 21st century.”

Jeanine Duncliffe
Director of International Economic Development, Louisville Forward

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The Global Cities Initiative helps metropolitan leaders grow their regional economies by strengthening international connections and competitiveness. GCI activities include producing data and research to guide decisions, fostering practice and policy innovations, and facilitating a peer-learning network, the Global Cities Exchange, for dissemination and replication.

From Los Angeles to London, Seattle to Stockholm, and Portland to Paris, regional coalitions of business, government, and civic leaders recognize the need to focus on international markets. Global trade matters – the bulk of future economic growth, about 86%, will take place outside the United States. GCI is arming cities and metropolitan regions with the necessary expertise to recognize their competitive assets and advantages, identify traded sectors, and gain the knowledge and expertise necessary to enhance global engagement by increasing exports, attracting, leveraging, and retaining foreign direct investment, and forging and solidifying the international connections needed to succeed in the global marketplace.

Combining Brookings’ deep expertise in fact-based, metropolitan-focused research and JPMorgan Chase’s commitment to investing in cities, this initiative:

  • Helps city and metropolitan leaders better leverage their global assets by unveiling their economic starting points on key indicators such as advanced manufacturing, exports, foreign direct investment, freight flow, and traded sectors.
  • Provides metropolitan area leaders with proven, actionable ideas for how to expand the global reach of their economies, building on best practices and policy innovations from across the nation and around the world.
  • Creates a network of U.S. and international cities interested in partnering together to advance global trade and commerce.

Core activities of the Global Cities Initiative include:

Independent Research: Through research, the Global Cities Initiative will make the case that cities and metropolitan areas are the centers of global trade and commerce. Brookings will provide each of the 100 largest U.S. metropolitan areas, as well as select global regions, with baseline data on its current global economic competitiveness so that metropolitan leaders can develop and implement more targeted strategies for global engagement and economic development.

Convenings: Each year, the Global Cities Initiative convenes business, civic and government leaders in select U.S. metropolitan areas to help them understand the position of their metropolitan economies in the changing global marketplace and identify opportunities for strengthening competitiveness and expanding trade and investment. In addition, GCI brings together metropolitan area leaders from the U.S. and around the world in at least one international city to explore best practices and policy innovations for strengthening global engagement, and facilitate trade relationships.

Global Exchange Strategies: In order to convert knowledge into concrete action, Brookings and JPMorgan Chase launched the Global Cities Exchange in 2013. Through a competitive application process, Brookings selects economic development practitioners in both U.S. and international cities to receive hands-on guidance on the development and implementation of actionable strategies to enhance global trade and commerce and strengthen regional economies.


“San Diego is poised to really take that step onto the global stage in a way that we have not before. San Diego for some time has been punching below its weight relative to our global engagement. And so today we’re looking to change that. We’re looking to change that in partnership with the public, private, and academic partners throughout our community.”

Sean Barr
Senior Vice President, Economic Development at the San Diego Regional Economic Development Corporation

“With the majority of the world’s consumers overseas and increasing amounts of innovation and partnerships driving global partnerships, we see it as crucial that Greater Portland be engaged internationally, and we have really benefitted not only from the research and strategy support from the Global Cities Initiative, but also through the interchange of ideas and experiences with other metros in the Initiative that have both piloted or have followed on this important work. And so for us, it is really cutting edge economic development.”

Derrick Olsen
Former Vice President, Greater Portland Inc.

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