Does the U.S. need a Department of Cities? How about the EU?

Richard Florida defends the need of a U.S. Department of Cities in an article published at New York Daily News.

"A new Department of Cities could be a primary engine of job creation." Florida argues. The President can make cities a centerpiece of his remaining time in office. And what better way to do that than to establish a new, cabinet-level, Department of Cities?

US President Barack Obama in Urban League Convention

Florida name drops a whole list of bipartisan mayors and city builders to take part in such a department; Philadelphia’s Ed Rendell and Milwaukee’s John Norquist, who heads the Congress for New Urbanism; business leaders like Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh (who is redeveloping downtown Las Vegas); Rocco Landesman, the Broadway producer and former National Endowment for the Arts director, and academics like Harvard economist Edward Glaeser. According to him this new Department would absorb pieces of HUD and the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Education, Commerce and Interior.

Would such a new department trigger top-down decision making, strengthening the power of the federal government over local governments? According to Florida, such an organization would make large but meaningful (albeit uncoordinated) investments in cities across a wide range of programs, ranging from transportation and housing to education, crime and economic development.

We at the Play the City think this is an idea worth pondering and ask whether such a department would make sense for the EU. Currently there are programs providing knowledge exchange, for example, concerning middle scale European cities or shrinking cities etc. We believe that a collaborative effort amongst European cities focusing on improvements in economics, sustainability, policy, democracy and social domains would be a great addition to the EU project. Surely we would enjoy simulating the consequences of such a department in a EU cities game!

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