ECONOMY AND BUSINESS
3,5 ECTS credits
Cities perform major economic functions as they organize the life of their citizens and facilitate their own economic performance. By concentrating on some of these economic functions and their territorial, policy, budgetary, entrepreneurial and business development implications this area tries to complement the more dominant urban and planning dimensions.
This area has been designed in order to explore the economic and business expression of cities. Much in the same way as cities are good (or bad) for living, they are good (or bad) for business. Cities, of course, are where citizens dwell, but along with citizens there are businesses off all sizes that serve the needs of city residents and visitors or make goods and services for export to other cities. These businesses may be thus local, intermediate and global. May intertwine with residential areas or be established at commercial or industrial parks outside the city area. Often, among the largest employers in a city, one finds the city administration complex that not only regulates every aspect of city life and appearance but also directly produces many of the services citizens demand. Last, but not least, large cities have a decisive territorial and economic impact in their provincial and regional environments. Hence, planning is a basic tool to enhance and channel the functionality of the city having in mind its economic and business expression.
Major cities are able to dominate the entire economic balance of much wider areas, eventually a whole region. By acting as magnets for skilled labor, capital and Talent (creative individuals), advanced cities put in motion myriads of processes well beyond its boundaries impacting in metropolitan areas and productive corridors. Among the issues that will be dealt with in this module are:
- Urban regions, boundary effects and spillovers.
- Metropolitan areas and productive corridors. Infrastructure and spillovers.
- Capital cities. From administrative tasks to advanced services.
What role should be played by governments in the economy is a question whose answer shapes the economic system and, by extension, life of citizens. Taking into account the split of responsibilities between different administrations, this answer is also needed when referring to local governments and local economies. There is mainstream consensus about the existence of a finite set of causes that could justify public intervention in the economy. Although any agreement disappears when deciding how appropriate public involvement should be organised, whatever consequent action cannot be inconsistent with the assessment made of the “justifying” arguments’ analysis. Any course of action derived from it can be considered an economic policy. (Local) Governments have at their disposal an array of different tools to pursue their chosen policy goals.
Cities may not be run as firms or households, but they should. They manage huge resources that they obtain from taxes and upper governments grants and spend on behalf of citizens in a large varieties of services and programs. Even if they must behave following established accounting protocols and have the capacity to borrow, sometimes cities go bankrupt. Financially healthy cities however are able to borrow cheaply and to push their investments in new capacity or services for their citizens. Sound city finances are crucial for the wellbeing of its citizens and for an efficient fulfillment of the functions of the city, be they economic or not. Among the issues that will be dealt with in this module are:
- Budgeting the city. Tax & spend for citizens.
- The servicing city. How to pay for urban services?
- Citizens participation in cities’ finances. Participatory budgets.
The capacity of a city to promote business development cannot be developed overnight. Starting with regulations favorable to business, continuing with a citizenry prone to initiate new business and/or support city policies towards entrepreneurship and ending with a vibrant business community, a long chain of factors determine this capacity. Pro-business cities are populated by pro-business citizens and attract more businesses and citizens sharing this nature thus reinforcing the circle. This module is designed to unveil these factors aiming at a clear understanding of their nature, interactions among them and final expression at the city level. Among the issues that will be dealt with in this module are:
- Business climate in a city. The role of regulations.
- Business districts in a city.Entrepreneurs, skilled workers and dwellers.
- The business community in a city. From business schools to creative districts.