Fast Company on Fast Cities:
To find them, we started with data from Carnegie Mellon assistant professor Kevin Stolarick, the numbers guru behind Richard Florida's The Rise of the Creative Class, which helped define what makes great cities tick. We relied on CEOs for Cities' CityVitals survey, authored by Joseph Cortright of Portland, Oregon--based Impresa Inc.; sustainability data from SustainLane; and insights from the Institute for the Future in Palo Alto.
What makes a Fast City? It starts with opportunity. Not just bald economic capacity, but a culture that nurtures creative action and game-changing enterprise. Fast Cities are places where entrepreneurs and employees alike can maximize their potential--where the number of patents filed is high, for instance, or where the high-tech sector is expanding.
The second component: innovation. Fast Cities invest in physical, cultural, and intellectual infrastructure that will sustain growth. "The real forces for change in America and around the world are the mayors and the local communities," says Florida, now a professor of public policy at George Mason University.
Finally, Fast Cities have energy, that ethereal thing that happens when creative people collect in one place. The indicators can seem obscure: number of ethnic restaurants, or the ratio of live-music lovers to cable-TV subscribers. But they point to environments where fresh thinking stimulates action and, by the way, attracts new talent in a virtuous cycle of creativity.
Sifting through the data, we identified 30 Fast Cities around the globe, which we're presenting in nine categories, from Creative-Class Meccas to Green Leaders. We've also noted 20 locales on the verge of Fast City status, plus 5 Slow Cities--and 5 too fast for their own good.