Thursday, September 29, 2011

Comparative Advantage

I am a great skeptic of cities using tax incentives or other gimmicks to try and lure businesses from another region to relocate.  If a company will relocate for your tax break, then it will relocate elsewhere for an even bigger tax break.

Instead I think that what drove the growth of cities in the Midwest was the comparative advantage that they held.  Their location gave access to the raw materials for manufacturing.  As that advantage declined manufacturing declined.

Cities in the Midwest need to focus on exploiting those advantages that give them an advantage over other cities that will allow business to germinate locally, rather than simply relocate.  One advantage in the Midwest is abundant water resources.

Tied for first place are Great Lakes cities of Chicago, Cleveland and Milwaukee. Following in rank for solid water supply longevity are Detroit at number four and New Orleans at number five.

This is good news and something that these cities should advertise.  They need to focus on their strengths, or as Steve Jobs said "Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff".  Focusing on the strengths of the region, whether that is agriculture or water or transportation or education, and stop concentrating on things that aren't working, like manufacturing.

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