Foreign Policy mag ’s Global Cities Index event--Chicag o is #8! (But what about foreign language capability?)

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at
Sat Nov 1 14:31:35 UTC 2008

Foreign Policy mag's Global Cities Index event-we're #8!

Friday 31 October, 2008

Last week I attended the unveiling of the Global Cities Index, which
was created by Foreign Policy magazine,  the Chicago Council on Global
Affairs, & A.T. Kearney Management Consultants.  What's novel is
including criteria beyond population & business activity to create the
index.  Adding human capital, information exchange, cultural
experience, & political engagement alter the rankings somewhat.

CCGA President Marshall Bouton opened the luncheon by noting
1-populations in cities exceeded those outside of cities for the 1st
time in the world in 2008 (urban>rural)
2-cities are nodes of globalization
3-Chicago is 1 of the most dynamic global cities in the world

Paul Laudicina of A.T. Kearney made a presentation on where the Global
Cities Index & where Chicago fits within it.  Here it is:

Richard Longworth subbed for Saskia Sasken who was marooned in
Singapore & couldn't return in time to make the luncheon.  He
questioned, why is globalization so urban?  Because we (headquarters
as nerve centers) have a tendency to concentrate & not scatter (like
tasks do).  Technology hasn't freed us from our sense of place.  We
still need face time to connect.  There is no 1 global economy-it's
simply a sum of many interconnected circuits.  People are still
required & Chicago is a magnet for 50,000 college graduates every
year.  Rather than the city of big shoulders, Chicago is now the city
of high foreheads.

Q&A answered:

-Chicago still has obstacles to moving up the rankings.  Media
coverage of world events is an issue.  The Chicago Tribune was ranked
#23 in this category.  Chicago has a miniscule tourism budget.  We
need to get over our inferiority complex & pull locals into the global
economy.  Public education & transportation are problems many large
cities face.

-given the recent financial crisis, New York will probably fall in the
rankings in the future

-Chicago will move up in cultural exchange & political engagement will
come by advertising to international travelers who pass through
Chicago but seldom stay here.  Providing more foreign language signage
for them @ O'Hare would help.

-Chicago needs to develop a personality in the media to present a
memorable face to the world.

My $.02:  a friend from Boston was surprised Chicago ranked so high.
My response is these things are calibrated to achieve desired results.
 The speakers noted that on an early draft of the index, Paris was
ranked low in culture because it had relatively few foreign
restaurants.  It was rejiggered to reflect Paris' higher status in
culture.  My point is, these things can be changed to reflect the
creators perception of reality.  If this were done by a European
organization, I suspect it would have come up with different results.
What is reality?  Take your pick.  Another component to add would be
foreign language capability, a reflection of ability to engage with
the rest of the world.  American cities would fall, but I think that's
an appropriate reflection of reality.  On the whole, this is a
valuable exercise.  It will be interesting to see how this evolves in
the future.

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