Mark Muro

Add Cleantech Innovation Consortiums to America COMPETES
July 20, 2010

The reauthorization of America COMPETES--America’s signature innovation law--now in the Senate contains a few innovations in its own text, such as a regional industry cluster program. Such a program--informed by an important Metro Program paper and similar to the one inserted into the House's recently passed America COMPETES reauthorization bill--represents an important recognition that technological innovation in 2010 entails much more than annually pouring R&D money into the system and waiting for job-creating high-growth companies to spin magically out.

Regional Innovation Goes Rural
July 12, 2010

One of the more gratifying aspects of the growing embrace not just by the Obama administration but Congress of regional innovation strategies (including those supporting regional industry clusters) has been the increased recognition among rural thinkers and actors that such strategies are in no way exclusively “urban” or cosmopolitan or high-tech. Now, that recognition on the rural side has yielded a solid gain.

The Great Lakes and Clean Energy--A National Win-Win
June 30, 2010

America needs to transform its energy system. The Great Lakes region possesses what may be the nation’s richest complex of innovation strengths--research universities, national and corporate research labs, and top-flight science and engineering talent. Is there a deal to be done?

Climate Legislation--Narrow or Broad, It Will Still Slight Innovation
June 29, 2010

So as President Obama convenes senators for a come-to-Jesus moment this morning on energy and climate legislation it looks like Senate proponents of an economy-wide cap-and-trade climate bill are preparing to settle for a narrower emissions cap in the electric power sector. Yet another concession to lawmakers' skittishness about pricing carbon, the scaled-back approach will not please the absolutist but it does have the virtue of realism. It always seemed a bit of a fantasy that a comprehensive carbon pricing scheme could reach 60 votes in the Senate this year.

Job Creation Has Left the Building
June 23, 2010

Where are the jobs? That question pervaded last week’s edition of the MetroMonitor index of recession and recovery and is becoming acute in the Intermountain West, where the companion Mountain Monitor reported that that employment actually fell slightly in the first quarter of 2010 in most of the region’s metros. Nor is the prognosis looking much better going forward. The last dose of federal stimulus is beginning to wear off.  The Senate is dawdling on a new lifeline intended to forestall additional state and local government layoffs.

Stimulus, Anti-Stimulus, and the Metropolitan Facts
June 21, 2010

One has only to look at the latest MetroMonitor to start getting seriously freaked out about the growing likelihood that the Senate won’t deliver the additional tranche of emergency state aid that President Obama last week called critical to preventing the layoffs of thousands of teachers and government workers. My colleague Howard Wial has already noted that the present economic recovery looks substantially “more fragile than it did just a few months ago” so I’ll just add that the anxiety pervading national discussions gets really acute when you peer into, say, the local metropolitan-area eco

The Shifting Geography of State Business Subsidies
June 11, 2010

Every year states spend millions on subsidies to stimulate business activity. However, in far too many cases too little is known about either the geography of these investments or their effectiveness. This is a problem because these interventions have a profound impact on metropolitan growth and development as they support a wide range of uses, from site preparation, infrastructure, and land acquisition to job-retention and the financing of industrial parks. In fact, research shows these programs often undermine older, existing communities.

Clean Energy COMPETES: Strengthening Clean Energy Competitiveness through the America COMPETES Reauthorization
June 04, 2010

Having passed the U.S. House of Representatives on May 28th, the America COMPETES Act, America’s flagship competitiveness legislation, will soon be debated in the U.S. Senate. The Act was originally passed in 2007 in response to mounting concern that the United States was failing to effectively compete economically with other nations, imperiling the nation’s future prosperity.  Now, a new outbreak of anxiety has engulfed the nation’s competitive standing particularly as regards the nation’s fledgling clean energy industry.

America (Begins to) COMPETE
June 02, 2010

Notwithstanding the nightmare of the spreading Gulf of Mexico oil spill, there was good news last week as sensible Washington folks headed to the beaches for the long weekend. Late on Friday, the House of Representatives passed an important piece of U.S.

Helping Those Who Help Themselves
May 27, 2010

The federal transportation finance system is broken and will be short on cash for the foreseeable future. Some regions—like the growing Phoenix, Salt Lake, Las Vegas, and Denver metropolitan areas—have meanwhile achieved system viability through unusual self-help yet even so face massive outstanding maintenance and capacity needs. Is there a deal to be done? Perhaps there is.  Check out, for example, the intriguing concept for a new federal-metro partnership in transportation finance being shopped around by the Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) in Arizona.

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