NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Growth Corridors Key to Economic Recovery

March 4, 2013

While much of the discussion of how to revive America's economy focuses on traditional regions -- such as the Pacific and Atlantic coasts and on the shores of the Great Lakes -- four different regions of the country might be the keys to solving our economic stagnation. Given their existing records of success, these growth corridors represent the newest frontier, says Joel Kotkin, an adjunct fellow with the Manhattan Institute.

The four growth corridors are the Great Plains region, the "Third Coast" (which includes Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Florida), the "Intermountain West" (which covers an area from the Rocky Mountain foothills to the Sierra and Cascade mountain ranges),  and the "Southeast Manufacturing Belt" in Tennessee, eastern Arkansas, the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and southwestern Virginia.

  • Covering 20 percent of the country, the Great Plains region has a population of 30 million people and will become more urban and ethnically diverse in the future.
  • The Third Coast region is home to 16 million people and has experienced more population and job growth than average. The region's traditional education gap is also continuing to narrow.
  • The Intermountain West region has a population of 12.8 million well-educated people. With vast natural resources and largest population and hi-tech job growth and a good business climate, the Intermountain West should enjoy strong growth in the future.
  • The Southeast Manufacturing Belt has a population of 40 million. While its recovery from the Great Recession has been slow, a continuing population shift to this region is likely to make it the recipient of large-scale industrial global investment.

These four regions are most likely to drive growth because they are addressing educational shortcomings, are the beneficiaries of interstate and foreign migration patterns, and have lower costs of living.

Growth in the Great Plains and the Third Coast regions will continue to be supported by the recent energy boom due in large part to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling. Growth for the Southeast Manufacturing Belt will be driven by rising foreign manufacturing costs. Growth in the Intermountain West region will be driven by the hi-tech sector competing with Silicon Valley.

Source: Joel Kotkin, "America's Growth Corridors: The Key to National Revival," Manhattan Institute, February 2013.


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