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Aaron M. Renn  |  Columnist

Email : aaron@aaronrenn.com Twitter : https://twitter.com/aaron_renn

Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker and writer on a mission to help America’s cities and people thrive and find real success in the 21st century. He focuses on urban, economic development and infrastructure policy in the greater American Midwest. He also regularly contributes to and is cited by national and global media outlets, and his work has appeared in many publications, including the The Guardian, The New York Times and The Washington Post.

THE FUTURE OF What’s Happening Now

Technology's Mixed Record in Responding to a Pandemic

While it's helped a lot of Americans who are displaced from their offices get their work done, it's fallen short in areas like education and disease tracking and has once again highlighted the digital divide.

August 11, 2020
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THE FUTURE OF Community Design

The Cloud over the Future of America’s Downtowns

After decades of revival, they've been dealt severe blows across multiple dimensions by the coronavirus pandemic, putting them in danger of a period of extended decline.

June 15, 2020
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THE FUTURE OF Work

Coronavirus Is Creating a Fundamental Shift in the Way We Work

The coronavirus has revolutionized how Americans work and those changes could be permanent. For many organizations, this coronavirus-caused shift to working from home could be a welcome excuse for change.

May 11, 2020
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THE FUTURE OF What’s Happening Now

The Pandemic and the Strengths of Our Networked Governance

It may not always look pretty, but the American system of federalism creates opportunities to try different things and pick up the slack when there's a shortfall at one level of government.

April 10, 2020
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THE FUTURE OF What’s Next

Watch: The City of Tomorrow

The real estate industry is quickly changing as property technology (proptech) becomes more pervasive. This panel discussion, moderated by Aaron Renn, covers the changes that have happened and those that are yet to come.

March 13, 2020
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THE FUTURE OF Community Design

How Cities Lost Control of the Urban Tech Revolution

As the "smart city" movement has progressed through three distinct waves, local governments have found themselves increasingly struggling to manage the changes that alter many aspects of urban life.

February 11, 2020
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Transportation & Infrastructure

What Employers Want From Cities

Is talent the most important factor? Taxes? Crime? It's a long list.

July 20, 2018
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Transportation & Infrastructure

5 Lessons From the Amazon HQ2 Frenzy

Most places were never going to land the company’s next headquarters. But there are still some key takeaways for them.

May 9, 2018
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Commentary

A Tip for Infrastructure Builders: Fix It First

Before we invest in new infrastructure, we need to maintain and update what we have.

March 15, 2018
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Commentary

It's Time to Confront Our Coastal Elite Economy

Coastal cities have disproportionately thrived thanks to economic centralization. Yes, the marketplace is to blame, but so is federal policy.

January 11, 2018
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Struggling Suburb? Merge It With the Big City Next Door.

It wouldn’t be a panacea, but it’s an option that needs to be on the table.

November 13, 2017
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Are We Still Bowling Alone?

In broken communities, the focus should be on social capital -- not just the economy.

September 27, 2017
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Transportation & Infrastructure

The Importance of Cities Finding Their Cultural Match

Sometimes a person and a city just aren’t right for each other.

July 27, 2017
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Transportation & Infrastructure

The Downside of Pragmatism

It served our ‘maker’ cities well for a long time. Now it holds them back.

May 10, 2017
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Can a Small College Save Its Small Town?

In many places, they're trying to like never before.

March 1, 2017
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Globalization's Winner-Take-All Economy

The Chicagos and Cincinnatis of the world are more vulnerable than they realize.

January 1, 2017
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Looking Back From the Future

Understanding how some cities have transformed shows why focusing on the little things can help struggling places survive and thrive.

November 11, 2016
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Transportation & Infrastructure

What Cities Need in the Global Economy

To thrive in today’s world, they need to connect with immigrants.

September 15, 2016
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Transportation & Infrastructure

The Rage of Those Left Behind

The 20 percent who run America need to start paying serious attention to the plight of the middle and lower classes.

July 11, 2016
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Transportation & Infrastructure

De-Industrialization and the Displaced Worker

The shift from a manufacturing-based economy to a technology- and services-based one hasn’t been kind to the middle and working classes. That won’t change anytime soon.

May 17, 2016
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Should Economic Development Focus on People or Places?

Cities tend to favor building stadiums and convention centers over investing in education or human services. It's an understandable but troublesome trend.

March 22, 2016
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Why Moving Isn't All Bad

When lower-income Americans move, it's seen as a result of displacement instead of opportunity. This negative perception needs to change.

January 1, 2016
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Transportation & Infrastructure

What Is the Real American Dream?

In our nostalgia for the postwar era, we ignore some things that weren’t so good.

November 1, 2015
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Transportation & Infrastructure

The New Unemployables

Drugs, crime and the social ills long associated with urban areas have migrated to rural America, and it's having a profound effect on the economy.

September 1, 2015
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Big Aspirations Aren’t Just for Big Cities Anymore

Much of what used to happen only in the biggest metropolises is spreading out.

July 1, 2015
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Transportation & Infrastructure

The Other Digital Divide

Will small cities be able to exploit technology the way bigger cities have?

May 1, 2015
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The Real Loser in Chicago's Mayoral Election

Rahm Emanuel's failure to avoid a runoff has less to do with him and more to do with Chicago's problems, which run deeper than many want to acknowledge.

March 2, 2015
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Where’s America’s Entrepreneurial Economy?

Despite many perceptions, entrepreneurship and self-employment have been on the decline for years, especially among Millennials.

March 1, 2015
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Transportation & Infrastructure

The Myths of Municipal Mergers

The media attention on Ferguson, Mo., one of the 90 jurisdictions in St. Louis County, has also brought attention to consolidation -- a touted solution to government ills.

January 1, 2015
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Lessons from Kokomo on How to Spend Responsibly

How the Indiana city that was the center of the auto industry collapse became an unlikely poster child for long-term fiscal sustainability.

November 1, 2014
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Transportation & Infrastructure

If Cities Want to Succeed, They Need to Focus on What Makes Them Distinct

Many municipalities struggle to identify their uniqueness and instead try to market themselves for having things that you can find anywhere.

September 1, 2014
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Transportation & Infrastructure

Do Cities Really Want Economic Development?

A poor economy and all the problems that come with it actually benefit some people, giving powerful players less incentive to improve the status quo for the rest.

July 1, 2014
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Transportation & Infrastructure

The Benefits of Being a 'Necessary City'

Cities aspiring to prominence on the global stage are overlooking a key economic development strategy.

May 1, 2014
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Transportation & Infrastructure

How to Harvest Good Ideas

Just as seeds need fertilizer to grow well, innovation requires nurturing too.

March 1, 2014
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Transportation & Infrastructure

How Globalization Isolates Struggling Cities

Troubled post-industrial places need help building better connections with more successful cities.

January 1, 2014
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Beyond the 'Brain Drain': How Cities Really Need to Sell Themselves

Cities worry a lot about losing talented people, but few of them do much to attract new people. A sales mindset needs to be part of the culture of the community.

August 15, 2013
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Cities and the Illusion of Growth Economics

A city that's growing can spend more money while keeping taxes low. But when the limits of growth are reached, it will need to reinvent itself.

July 15, 2013
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