The globalized economy is about the networked flows of goods, services, capital and talent. What hobbled so many post-Industrial cities’ ability to reinvent their economies is that they were not connected to these global flows. This lack of a connection has left cities like Cleveland and Detroit as “cul-de-sacs of globalization,” in the words of geographer Jim Russell.
Today, of course, most cities recognize the importance of connections to global flows and are working to make sure they are part of the right networks. One small way they do this is through conferences, both hosting them and attending them. I attended two recent global urban conferences, the Chicago Forum on Global Cities and the latest iteration of the New Cities Summit in Montreal, and got to see this in action.