Why would Mitchell, South Dakota; Arlington County, Virginia; and Columbus, Ohio land spots on the top seven smartest cities in the world? These cities and the rest on the list are taking action in surprising ways to collaborate for attracting and acquiring investment in and development of innovation.

For instance... Home to the highest metropolitan concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in America, but also to a a large, low-income population stranded by the decline of low-skilled factory employment, Columbus is trying to bridge the gap between these two worlds through collaboration among government, education, business and institutions. Thanks to startup acceleration programs, business mentoring, seed funding and capital attraction, Columbus has been one of a handful of U.S. metros that turned a brain drain in 2005-2007 into brain gain in 2007-2009. Employment growth in skilled manufacturing has exceeded 35% over the past decade and, in 2013, Columbus was named one of the top 10 cities in the US for new college grads.

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