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Global Cities: Introducing the 10 Traits of Globally Fluent Metro Areas

Brad McDearman and Joseph Parilla

Swift global integration, the rapid expansion of a global consumer class, and the rise of urban regions as the engines of global economic growth have ushered in a new era. The global economy no longer revolves around a handful of dominant states and their national urban centers. This fundamental shift has both challenged the United States with greater global competition but also offered the prospect of all U.S. metropolitan areas to benefiting from engaging in growing markets abroad.

Aware of the enormous untapped opportunities offered through trade and global engagement, many U.S. metropolitan leaders are abandoning their path dependent focus on the U.S. market by improving their region’s global fluency. Our new report, “The Ten Traits of Globally Fluent Metro Areas,” defines global fluency as the level of global understanding, competence, practice, and reach that a metro area exhibits to facilitate progress toward its desired economic future.

In this report, we specifically isolate the 10 key traits associated with cities that have achieved global success. Many of these traits align with the key inputs to economic competitiveness: distinct specializations, infrastructure, human capital and innovation, capital investment, and good governance to name a few. But the list begins with Leadership with a Worldview because having a broad worldview enables regional leaders to be intentional in evaluating and leveraging all their other traits.

Over the next 10 weeks, starting today, a Brookings expert will post a blog related to one of the ten traits, presented in sequential order.  Together, these traits provide one framework for metropolitan leaders to gauge their global starting point. The 10 traits below have proven to be particularly strong determinants of a metro area’s ability to succeed in global markets, manage the negative consequences of globalization, and better secure its desired economic future.  The most successful cities are those that have a long-term outlook and achieve some level of integration between many of the traits.   

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