Cities that embrace innovation are leaving behind cities clinging to the old blue model

by Ryan Streeter on February 9, 2014. Follow Ryan on Twitter.

Walter Russell Mead, commenting on the excellent Glenn Thrush article on Pittsburgh’s renewal, writes:

Our economy is hyperdependent on innovation, and the cities that spend time nostalgically pinning for the 1950s style Fordist economy, trying to preserve the blue model for a few years longer, or heaping regulations and taxes on key economic actors, will be left behind by cities that give entrepreneurs more room to operate. Not everyone can be an entrepreneur, but entrepreneurs can lay the groundwork for broad regional renewals.

He’s right. I thought this line from Thrush’s piece was insightful, as I – like others I’m sure – have read a lot about how Pittsburgh used health care to rebound from its vanishing steel industry:

You could write a story about how health care saved Pittsburgh—the first-class University of Pittsburgh Medical Center that accounts for one in five local jobs, a far higher percentage of local employment than the steel industry at its apex—but the rise of the robots is the storyline the city itself embraces because it represents the reassertion of Pittsburgh’s irrepressible identity, its industrial DNA.