Thinking Big for Florida
Florida's public policy-makers must recognize that mega-regions are the engines of the new global economy. They must support Florida's mega-region -- the 15th largest in the world.
Every night millions of Floridians switch on billions of lights in a display that reveals a historic shift in economic power across the state and around the world — the rise of the mega-region.
When viewed from the right perspective on a clear night — from, say, a satellite in orbit — it is possible to trace an unbroken chain of urban light from Miami to Orlando and beyond, stretching west to Tampa and along two northern offshoots to Gainesville and up the Atlantic coast to Jacksonville.
That chain — and the energy consumption it represents — clearly defines the economic musculature of the state: An agglomeration of city-regions that forms the seventh-largest mega-region in North America and the 15th-largest in the world. It is home to some 15 million people, and it generates $430 billion in economic activity each year.
Our thinking about economic growth has long been dominated by the nation-state, yet this is no longer where the action is. The mega-region is now the true engine of the global economy and our most important social organizing unit.
Extending far beyond a single city and its suburbs, mega-regions comprise vast swaths of trade, transport, innovation and talent, often stretching across multiple jurisdictions and even national borders. They harness human creativity on a massive scale, generating a disproportionate share of global economic activity and — crucially — an even larger share of scientific discovery and innovation.
While there are almost 200 nations, there are currently only 40 significant mega-regions. Yet they account for two-thirds of all economic activity and more than 85% of global innovation. The 10 largest mega-regions in terms of economic activity are home to about 416 million people, or 6.5% of the world’s population, yet they produce 43% of global economic activity ($13.4 trillion), are home to 57% of the most-cited scientists and create 53% of global innovation.
The largest mega is greater Tokyo (55 million people and $2.5 trillion in economic activity), followed by the 500-mile Boston-New York-Washington corridor (54 million people, $2.2 trillion) and the Chicago-Pittsburgh mega (46 million people, $1.6 trillion). Other American megas include northern California and agglomerations that run from Los Angeles to Tijuana, from Charlotte to Atlanta, and from Houston to New Orleans. Overseas, significant megas can be found around Amsterdam, London, Osaka and Nagoya, Shanghai, Beijing and Hong Kong-Shenzhen.