2017 has been the year of headlines, and 2018 is shaping up to be just as interesting. One particular headline of note has been Amazon’s second North American headquarters, which has sparked a city versus city competition that has taken the different social media platforms by storm. Ultimately, in regards to those cities vying for the company’s HQ2 — for fans of the 1986 cult film “Highlander” — there can be only one.
There has been some debate about the ultimate economic impact the winner of Amazon’s HQ2 will actually see, namely whether its relocation — along with $5 billion of investment and 50,000 jobs during the next decade and half — is worth the cost of enticing the company — via tax breaks and other incentives. While that remains to be seen, cities, as the Harvard Business Review noted, can learn from the process, including what is expected to do business in America’s growing digital economy.
Amy Liu and Mark Muro noted four factors cities should examine closely from the HQ2 competition in their Harvard Business Review article, “What Amazon’s HQ2 Wish List Signals About the Future of Cities.” These included the capacity to produce skilled, technical talent; access to domestic and global markets through modern infrastructure; the practice of connected and sustainable placemaking; and supporting culture and diversity.
They write, “It requires helping existing firms expand and innovate, supporting entrepreneurs, creating industry-relevant skills programs, and strengthening other local assets that improve the economic prospects of local industries and workers. These attributes, even more than incentives packages, will attract the attention of outside firms interested in being part of a region’s unique ecosystem.”
It’s a memo many cities received well before Amazon released its wish list as seen time and time again in The Municipal. In fact in this issue, we highlight a couple of cities turning negatives into positives for their communities by giving second chances. For instance, Roseville, Minn., has given ex-convicts the opportunity to learn employable skills through the Housing Replacement Program and its partnership with Better Futures Minnesota — not only removing blight, but also creating more skilled labor within the area.
Of course, we are also exploring other trends seen in 2017 while looking ahead to 2018. Th is includes a revisit of the opioid epidemic, which President Trump has recently declared a public health emergency, making available invaluable resources that are desperately needed as 140 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In particular, we are highlighting two bright lights in the struggle to curb addiction, including a program led by the Nashville, N.C., Police Department.
Another public safety topic we will cover is the current state of body-worn cameras from the best practices implemented by some law enforcement agencies to some of the challenges being faced by jurisdictions when it comes to storing all of that data, which can include a hefty price tag.
Also, be sure to check out the article on local government purchasing trends. It might serve as a reminder to be nice to your purchasing departments and professionals.
Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year, everyone!