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Aaron M. Renn

Columnist

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.

He can be reached at aaron@aaronrenn.com or on Twitter at @aaron_renn.

Hint: It’s not politics or failed strategy. But we have a 23-state region spanning the Great Plains, Midwest and Northeast, as well as some border states, that have consistently trailed the rest of the country.
Dense, often dilapidated neighborhoods were routes to prosperity for an earlier generation of low-income urbanites. Their destruction has hurt us all.
The Green Mountain State, with its natural beauty, small towns and traditional lifestyle, sometimes seems too good to be true. In some ways, it is.  
Unlike China, American roads and transport systems have been around for too many decades. We need to fix them, not dream of gleaming new ones.
Washington is sending cities a gigantic fiscal gift. They have to produce results. The danger is that the money will be squandered. Republicans are watching all that generosity with skepticism.
Any community’s civic culture has deep and stubborn roots in local history. But with the right sort of leader, new and innovative attitudes and practices can emerge.
Many of them are more interested in pandering to hungry corporations than they are in making investments in their citizens.
Even before the pandemic wiped out ridership, the systems were struggling to attract riders. Cities should be open to questioning the fundamentals of how they operate and fund their systems.
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.
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.