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Megapolitans Will Define America of the Future/Mega-Regions Defined Internationally, Business and Industry Trends Analysis

The Metropolitan Institute (MI) at Virginia Tech University has done extensive research into what it calls “megapolitans;” that is, regional concentrations of population totaling 10 million people (now or by 2040) that comprise two or more contiguous metropolitan areas and feature other selected characteristics.
MI finds that 10 megapolitan areas exist within the U.S. today, comprising less than 20% of all land area in the lower 48 states, but holding almost 200 million people, about 66% of total U.S. population. By 2040, MI projects that these 10 areas will add 83 million additional residents and will attract more than 75% of all private real estate development investments from 2003 to 2040, or about $33 trillion.
MI lists the 10 megapolitans as 1) Cascadia in the Seattle/Portland area of the Pacific Northwest; 2) NorCal in Northern California; 3) Southland in Southern California; 4) Valley of the Sun in the Phoenix/Tucson area; 5) I-35 Corridor stretching from Dallas-Ft. Worth through central Oklahoma and parts of Kansas; 6) Gulf Coast comprising the coastal areas of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama; 7) Peninsula comprising all of Southern and Central Florida; 8) Piedmont in Central Georgia, the Carolinas, and nearby metro areas; 9) Northeast in the Northeast Corridor of the U.S.; and 10) Midwest in Chicago and the surrounding Midwestern metro areas.
Growth of these megapolitans can create unique new problems. For example, a migration of millions of people from suburban living in large homes to urban living on smaller lots could leave a surplus of as many as 22 million large-lot homes (built on at least one-sixth of an acre) in suburban areas by 2025 according to one estimate. Some analysts project that aging Baby Boomers will desire smaller, urban homes as they age, homes that are easier to care for and less expensive to operate than suburban houses on large lots.
High gasoline prices add fuel to the megapolitan fire. Dense population areas where people live and work close together foster the use of bicycles, public transportation and walking to get from place to place.
On the other hand, there is the possibility that urban living may not appeal to such a vast swath of the population. Advanced communication technologies centered on the Internet will continue to evolve quickly, making it ever more effective to work remotely while collaborating with associates, customers and suppliers who are far away. People will be able to use advances in communications to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends. This will encourage many people to live in communities with smaller populations that offer better recreation, cleaner air, lower crime, better weather and/or better public education than they would find in major cities. This could cause large numbers of knowledge workers to relocate to cities such as Boise, Idaho or the Spokane, Washington area. Communities that are even more rural, such as Taos, New Mexico; Grand Junction, Colorado or College Station, Texas could find an influx of knowledge workers who realize that they can live nearly anywhere that suits their unique individual tastes and budgets, as long as they have very fast Internet access and reasonable proximity to a major airport.
On a global scale, the Martin Prosperity Institute at the University of Toronto defines 40 mega-regions around the world that collectively power the global economy. While home to one-fifth of the world’s population, these mega-regions produce two-thirds of global economic output and more than 85% of global innovation. Major mega-regions include Greater Tokyo (55 million people and $2.5 trillion in economic activity) and the 500-mile Boston-Washington corridor (54 million people and $2.2 trillion in output). Other regions of note include Chicago to Pittsburgh, Los Angeles to San Diego and the areas around global centers such as Amsterdam, London and Bangalore and Mumbai.
 


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