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James Fallows' "American Futures" Series In The Atlantic


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Jim Fallows and his wife have been traveling around the country doing a fantastic series on towns that have been prospering despite the sluggish economy. More importantly, they've been digging into the nitty- gritty about exactly why they're doing so well.


Two takeaways I think are especially useful for Orlando:


(1) "Locally based wealth" - they show why town is often more successful than town because of corporate headquarters in these communities started  by entrepreneurs with genuine ties to the area. So often we have thrown money to bring jobs to central Florida, only to watch them disappear just a few years later when the companies that received the incentives get a better deal elsewhere. Let's build the base for those who have the same passionate stake in the area that we do and can't imagine being anywhere else.


(2) "A civic self-image, or public narrative, that gives shape to the successes (and failures) in the city's past and guides people to useful decisions for the future." There really needs to be a sense of "Orlandoness" if we are to distinguish ourselves from Anytown, USA. It's the reason I often am skeptical about individual projects that are quite grand but really do nothing to promote the fabric that makes us special. In a place that's grown as quickly as we have, it's easy for our narrative to be overwhelmed by competing visions, and that's why the preservation of our historic core is so important.






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