By Tim Brennan, PVPC Executive Director
A recent National Geographic article describes how an analysis of millions of daily work trips reveals the emergence of a series of U.S. megaregions.
The article affirms that an ever increasing share of our nation's population now live in "megaregions," meaning clusters of interconnected and interdependent cities and towns where the ability to compete and prosper depends on each megaregion having a dense and expanding network of connections plus an ability to collaborate across political borders at all levels local, regional, state and international.
More compelling is that this research demonstrates that our own megaregion, the Knowledge Corridor, has emerged as an interstate metro area with 2.7 million people anchored, along a north-south axis, by New Haven, Hartford and Springfield.
This new reality of 21st century megaregions spanning the nation clearly underscores that the metro areas which choose to compete need to focus on border busting recognizing that metro regions have become the engines of America's economy and future.
Sustaining the impressive progress that the Knowledge Corridor has enjoyed won't be easy. As one of many emerging megaregions, we must strive to be smart, strategic, focused and inclusive with an ability to think and act as a unified region with a shared future vision.
America's 388 metropolitan areas currently house 84 percent of our nation's population and generate over 90 percent of its gross domestic product. They're the powerhouses of the U.S. national economy, as well as the premiere collision centers for innovation, investment, learning and commerce. Thus, collaborative networks, created at the scale of the Knowledge Corridor, are now fundamental to solving our toughest problems (like talent development and retention, concentrated poverty) and landing our most promising opportunities (such as high speed broadband and modern passenger rail services).
Moreover, they can bridge gaps that too often divide cities, suburbs and rural towns, as well as racial and ethnic groups, while simultaneously protecting and strengthening the Knowledge Corridor's most important asset, its human capital.
The Knowledge Corridor, routinely seeks to engage multiple stakeholders across ideological and jurisdictional lines, to find and forge common ground. It is the most opportune place to unify geographies, people, brain power, interests, vision and perhaps, most importantly, our collective will.
This calls for a collaborative agenda and a governance system that works at the scale of a megaregion and can act in tandem with the public, private and civic sectors. Let's now celebrate and embrace the Knowledge Corridor as the right place to fast forward our megaregion and its people.
Click here to read Tim's full Springfield Republic Business Desk column.