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The Public Sector and its Contribution to Urban Competitiveness


Peter K. Kresl
Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, USA
Received February 2018; Revised March 2019; Accepted March 2019


The topic of this issue of the journal, “Public Sector Productivity and Competitiveness”, is one that has become exceedingly important and relevant at this stage in the development of urban economics and of urban competitiveness. This assertion has been powerfully verified by the recent announcement by the company Amazon that it will seek a site for a second headquarters complex. After inviting applications from cities in North America to host the complex, Amazon received applications from more than 200 cities, with populations from New York City down to some rather small cities, in all but seven US states. Several Canadian Provinces, one joint US-Mexico region also, submitted applications. We will return to this phenomenon later in this paper, but suffice it to note at this point that the criteria to be used in the decisionmaking are a set of seven elements set by Amazon, as well as a set of other unstated criteria that are implicit in the fact that the city will have to be an attractive place for the young, perhaps family-oriented, technologically skilled workers who will impose their own preferences as to where they are willing to spend their lives. Thus, city planners have more than one constituency to address. Too much attention to bricks and mortar and they lose the work force that is the key to success. This is the story of the past century for city planning for competitiveness. Not only do the tools for competitiveness change over time, but the goals keep changing, as do the humans who respond to their signals. The objective of city planners has therefore changed as the environment in which they function has evolved. As will be suggested in this paper, city planning for competitiveness enhancement has not actually evolved as it has changed fundamentally in nature as the economy has developed over the past century or more. We must start at the beginning.


Public sector, urban competitiveness, city planning.

Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Kresl, P. K. (2019). The Public Sector and its Contribution to Urban Competitiveness. Public Enterprise, 24(1), 23-29.