Where's the Growth?

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Just as the North American Energy Revolution is releasing previously untapped supplies of energy, it is also unleashing economic growth in areas that had long been stagnant. But this is just one of the forces driving the new reality, in which regions that once seemed deprived of resources will now hold powerful advantages.

Two conflicting views of this new reality are being advanced by demographic experts:

  • One view, championed by Joel Kotkin, holds that wealth will be centered in the nation's "growth corridors," located in the Great Plains and three other under-populated areas.
  • The second view, championed by Richard Florida, contends that prosperity will be concentrated in "innovation cities" such as San Jose and Austin.

So who's right? Both of them. Each view is based on a different driver of growth, but it's highly likely that both drivers will revitalize the areas of the country that Kotkin and Florida have identified. That is great news not just for those local economies, but also for the United States in general.

Let's take a closer look at each perspective.

Joel Kotkin is a Manhattan Institute adjunct fellow and the author of the weekly "New Geographer" column for Forbes.com. He is also a distinguished presidential fellow in urban futures at Chapman University in Orange, California, a senior visiting fellow at the Civil Service College in Singapore, and a fellow at the National Chamber Foundation.

America's Growth Corridors

In his report for the Manhattan Institute called "America's Growth Corridors: The Key to National Revival,"1 as well as in a Wall Street Journal2 article and elsewhere, Kotkin identifies four areas that are rapidly increasing their population and creating jobs. These four growth corridors are:

  1. The Great Plains region, made up of Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, and the Dakotas.
  2. The "Third Coast" along the Gulf of Mexico, including parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Florida.
  3. The "Intermountain West," consisting of the northern parts of New Mexico and Arizona, parts of eastern California, the western regions of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado, the non-coastal eastern regions of Oregon and Washington, and all of Idaho, Utah, and Nevada...

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