See why innovation is key to your city's economic success

A new report says innovation, talent, and “distinctiveness” play a critical role in the success of cities and towns. Details, the report, and additional research is inside.

The Big Picture
Connections, innovation, talent, and your city’s “distinctiveness.” Those are the keys to your city’s success, according to a new report from a national organization for urban leaders.

The Skinny
Keeping in mind that the report was written for large metropolitan regions, the report states that cities survive “because they are well-connected, both internally and to the wider world, because they are fertile places for innovation and entrepreneurship, because they nurture and attract talent, and because each city has distinctive characteristics and strengths.”

The Source
The report, called “City Vitals 2.0,” was published by CEOs for Cities, which describes itself as a “civic lab” for urban leaders. The report benchmarks performance in four key areas, but does not offer rankings or advocate one path to success; rather, it acknowledges that all communities are different, and presents indicators and examples that are helpful.

The Four
Here’s a quick overview of the four characteristics that are keys to success, according to the report:

1. Connections. This regards how well a city connects its population, in all manners: through civic participation, through transit, etc. It also involves the ways that the city leverages tools that connect it to the wider world, from the Internet to foreign travel.

2. Innovation. Though City Vitals focuses on more established measurements of innovation—patenting, entrepreneurships, access to capital—the topic more broadly addresses municipal innovation, and the tools and processes employed to improve community life.

3. Talent. This comes down to “smart people,” as the report bluntly calls them, who can build knowledge through education and experience. The migration of well-educated young adults is a critical matter, and cities that draw them are at a competitive advantage.

4. Distinction. Every city has its own unique and distinctive strengths. Do you know yours? Fail to understand and leverage those distinctions at your own peril.

Next Steps
To download the actual report, click here:

Details on CEOs for Cities can be found at their Web site.

The organization has also published other reports that EfficientGov readers my find interesting. One from 2009, called Walking the Walk, explores the value of walkable neighborhoods, and analyzed data from 94,000 real estate transactions to discover that higher levels of walkability were directly linked to higher home values.

Another titled Branding Your City explores how a simple brand narrative can have a major impact on tourism, product sales, even business and relocation decisions.


About the author

Barry Greenfield

Barry Greenfield is Director of Government Cloud at Praetorian Digital and formerly founder and publisher of

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