Urenio Watch Watch: Cities

Competitive Cities for Jobs and Growth: What, Who, and How

Competitive-Cities-for-Jobs-and-GrowthA new World Bank Group report analyzes what makes a city competitive and how more cities can grow their economies. According to the report, improving the competitiveness of cities is a vital pathway to eliminating extreme poverty and promoting prosperity for a country’ s citizens. If every average city had managed to do as well as a competitive city, the world would have added 19 million new jobs in 2012 alone.

The report analyzes 750 cities to determine what makes them competitive and how they have grown their economies. It looks at global and regional trends, comparing different types of cities’”by income, sector, region, and industrial mix. The report found that competitive cities include more than capital cities or global centers of commerce. They are often secondary cities that are experiencing rapid industrialization, such as Saltillo, Mexico; Meknes and Tangier, Morocco; Coimbatore, India; Gaziantep, Turkey; Bucaramanga, Colombia; Onitsha, Nigeria; and Changsha, China.

“The private sector accounts for almost 75 percent of jobs created worldwide. To spur growth and become successful, cities must focus on expanding existing firms, creating new ones, and attracting investors in order to create more jobs, boost incomes of citizens, and grow,’

said Anabel Gonzalez, Senior Director, Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, World Bank Group.

“There is no single recipe for becoming a competitive city, but, as the report highlights, common patterns can be identified and specific techniques can be recommended to city authorities designing and implementing economic development strategies,’

said Ede Jorge Ijjasz-Vasquez, Senior Director, Social, Urban, Rural, and Resilience Global Practice, World Bank Group.

Beyond the private sector, the report highlights how competitive cities concentrated interventions on institutions and regulations, infrastructure and land, skills and innovation, and enterprise support and finance. The most successful cities carefully adapted their interventions to their political economy, their economic opportunities and to the needs of their domestic firms.

In the most successful competitive cities:

  • business leaders were consulted about their needs and the constraints they encountered in their operations;
  • infrastructure investments were made in collaboration with the firms and the industries they aimed to serve;
  • skills initiatives were designed in partnership with firms, ensuring that curricula addressed their practical needs; and
  • industries were supported where they had a real commercial potential, through collective initiatives with the private sector rather than through the public sector alone.