New ranking: Top emerging cities think globally

Fri, 2014-09-19 06:00 -- Kevin Ebi

When it comes to ranking the world's top global cities, there has been little change. New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong top the Global Cities Index from A.T. Kearney – the same spots those cities held last time, and two times before that.

But the report also finds a crop of emerging cities are poised to catch up with more established leaders, and they’re doing that by thinking globally about everything they do.

Everything matters in the new economy

The one thing you have to do is everything. Since we live in a world economy, the report finds that cities that hope to become powerhouses “must fire on all cylinders, all the time.”

The report ranked the leaders in five areas:

    • Business activity, which includes the number of headquarters located in a city, number of international conferences, size of the capital markets, and value of goods flowing through its ports or airports
    • Human capital, including quality of schools, the number of residents with university degrees, and the international makeup of the city’s population
    • Information exchange, which includes broadband Internet access, availability of news, and the city’s online presence
    • Cultural experience, which includes the amount of sporting and arts activities available
    • Political engagement, which measures the amount of influence the city has on key issues

New York, which placed at the top of the overall list, also placed at the top of each of the individual categories with the exception of political engagement. Other top cities also placed near the top of the individual categories.

Given how competitive the world economy is, falling significantly behind in even one area could drive business elsewhere. The cities most likely to emerge into leaders are those that figure out where they’re weak and take corrective action.

Southeast Asian cities stand out

In particular, the report finds two Southeast Asian cities, Jakarta pictured at the top of the page and Manila shown here, have the potential to become world powerhouses in the next 10 to 20 years if they keep up their current trajectory. The two have already caught up with the leaders in business activity. They’re catching up in innovation. And they’re taking steps to improve their standing in the area where they lag: human capital.

Both cities have made strides in income equality, stability and security, and the efforts seem to be paying off.

In the case of Jakarta, the recruiting firm Michael Page listed hot jobs in Indonesia, and the positions read like a help wanted section in any thriving economy: finance and accounting professionals, human resources and supply chain and manufacturing specialists.

And the city is still working to do more. It’s pushing environmental reforms in an effort to create jobs through green tourism. It’s also pushing what it calls transit-oriented development, a plan designed to ease traffic congestion, which will hopefully help the city shed its bad reputation in Indonesia.

Manila, meanwhile, has made investments in healthcare and is actually ahead of Jakarta in terms of business activity, though it is the runner-up on the most-likely-to-emerge list.

Kuala Lumpur also places high on the emerging list. The city is working to ease business regulations, and the report predicts its business climate will quickly catch up with busier economies even though the gap is fairly large now.

More about cities…

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