CityLab staffer Richard Florida unlocks the secrets of the most competitive cities in the world, delving into the tactics that made superstar cities like London, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and Singapore the dynamic hubs they are today. But how can small or medium-sized cities make their way into the ranks of these competitive global urban economies?

A new report from World Bank looked at the key factors of globally competitive cities, finding that 72% of these cities outperformed their national economies in terms of GDP growth. 

Competitive cities with long-term job growth tend to focus their economies on tradable goods and services. Among the top ten percent of cities with the fastest-growing GDP per capita from 2005-2012, tradable employment growth exceeded non-tradable employment growth by 2.5 annual percentage points. We see that most cities have a comparable mix of industries (high-end services, agriculture, manufacturing, and so on), regardless of which category they fall under. The study argues that most cities do not necessarily need to overhaul their economies, but instead to improve and expand their existing structure. The real challenge for cities, then, is how to upgrade their economies from a market town to a production center, or from a production center to a financial and creative services industry.

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