In a discussion this afternoon at GOVERNING's Outlook conference, local leaders from around the country dicussed the priorities that are highest on cities' lists for the next few years. Many of the issues were things you've no doubt heard of -- IT consolidation, a focus on targeted regional growth, infrastructure maintenance, strengthening public trust, and so on.
But one of the panelists mentioned something I bet you've never thought about: international flights.
Dr. Camille Cates Barnett, the managing director for the city of Philadelphia, was discussing her city's strategic goals for the near future. One of them is to grow the city's population. "That means we're looking at our international flights," she said. "Growing our population means increasing our immigrant population. Immigration patterns follow international flight patterns."
It's a very interesting idea -- although I wonder if maybe it's a little more of a chicken-and-egg question than Cates Barnett suggests. Still, it's a great point to consider. "We underestimate the importance of our connection and interdependence to the global market," she said. "But it's not just the money that comes in and helps fuel our economy. It's the actual people."