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Happy Wednesday. Thanks for reading.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
In the battle for talent and economic growth, U.S. cities are often competing with each other to become the next tech hubs and in luring new investment and jobs.
Why it matters: The Midwest is hardly a hotbed for venture capital activity, the majority of which goes to New York, Massachusetts and California. But legacy Rust Belt states see a chance to attract entrepreneurs looking for alternatives to pricey cities like San Francisco.
Driving the news: The Ohio Third Frontier Commission, a statewide economic development initiative, recently approved about $77 million to support tech entrepreneurs throughout the state. It's invested more than $2 billion since 2003.
What's happening: After years of population decline, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus are seeing growth again.
Columbus is one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest. It's the state capital and home of The Ohio State University and major corporations like Nationwide Insurance, Cardinal Health and Big Lots.
Cincinnati's legacy industrial economy has been somewhat challenging to revamp, said Mike Venerable, CEO of CincyTech, a seed fund focused on life sciences and digital startups.
Cleveland has leaned into its health care and medical expertise since the bottom fell out of manufacturing jobs, said Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland-based nonprofit venture development organization.
The big picture: The public-private collaboration and cross-city relationships have made the difference for Ohio, the investors say.
Venture capital investments in Ohio more than doubled in five years, and the increased availability of funding is helping to attract a new crop of startup founders.
Zooming in: Columbus in particular is experiencing a mini-renaissance as technology is disrupting legacy industries such as manufacturing, insurance, financial services, retail and health care.
Connected cars: Arnab Nandi, 36, spun his company Mobikit, a data infrastructure platform for connected vehicles, out of The Ohio State University, where he is on leave from the faculty.
Insurance: Steve Lekas, 38, worked at insurance companies in New York and San Francisco. When he co-founded Branch, which lets consumers bundle low-cost home and car insurance, he settled on Columbus after analyzing more than 80 cities. He's relocated six employees there.
FCC chairman Ajit Pai speaks at a rural connectivity forum in April 2018. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images.
The Federal Communications Commission intends to launch a new $9 billion 5G Fund to spur deployment of wireless service in hard-to-serve rural areas, scrapping an existing program meant to spur 4G LTE service.
Why it matters: Each new wave of wireless technology has rolled out quickly in urban centers but faced technical and financial hurdles in reaching rural customers, Axios' Margaret Harding McGill writes.
Driving the news: FCC chairman Ajit Pai said Wednesday that commission staff found that data submitted by certain carriers for the original funding program did not reflect on-the-ground experiences measured by speed tests.
What's next: Pai's new proposal would have the FCC allocate $9 billion through a reverse auction to subsidize 5G deployment in rural America.
People cycle before the city skyline on a hazy day in Singapore in September. Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images.
A handful of cities in Asia are ahead when it comes to preparing for and implementing the next-generation of mobility — ranging from autonomous vehicles, electrification, shared car fleets and multimodal platforms.
Why it matters: People are cramming into cities around the globe, leading to congestion and denser development. That means personal vehicles are getting pushed aside for more efficient and sustainable modes of transportation.
Singapore gets high marks in terms of innovation by collaborating with academia and businesses, nurturing a "tech hub" attracting mobility startups and supporting smart-city experiments in autonomous vehicles and traffic management.
Hong Kong ranked first in terms of social impact — thanks to its high utilization of mass transit, which accounts for 88% of the city's transportation.
Beijing got the top spot in terms of "market attractiveness," due to the sizable government investments in public transportation, new energy and logistics industries — and developing its ride-hailing and vehicle-sharing through well-funded startups.
Seoul, while not the top scorer in any category, ranked in the top 10 in four out of five categories — the highest being infrastructure, such as walkability and density of public transit stations.
Tokyo ranks high in efficiency, meaning its public transportation system is highly reliable, well-run and affordable while the city prioritizes modes other than cars by providing bicycle and bus lanes.
"Cities score high not just because their subways run on time, but because they have established a pattern of policymaking and investing in mass transit that ensures incorporation of innovations over time."— Oliver Wyman Forum's Urban Mobility Readiness Index
The bottom line: Chinese cities have benefited from the country's aggressive encouragement of electric car use (see below) and other centralized infrastructure policies.
Los Angeles officials and partners launched a low-carbon transportation plan that's aimed, among other things, at having EVs account for 80% of vehicles sold and 30% of vehicles on the road in 2028.
Why it matters: The "roadmap" unveiled last week is the latest effort among major cities to move toward more climate-friendly transit options, Axios' Ben Geman writes.
But, but, but: Check out the chart above, which shows that LA has a long way to go. It's drawn from data in this Nov. 21 International Council on Clean Transportation report about how different cities are seeking to electrify driving.
What's next: Heavy lifting. The LA plan unveiled by multistakeholder Transportation Electrification Partnership calls for crafting policy details over the next year.
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
The urban-rural health divide is costing lives☝️(Axios)
The one-traffic-light town with some of the fastest internet in the U.S. (New Yorker)
Boston is in danger of losing its last true, historically ethnic enclave (Boston Globe)
2020 U.S. census plagued by hacking threats, cost overruns (Reuters)
The race to fill local newsrooms (Axios)
“We know there are no Republican or Democratic roads or bridges. Good waterways, pipes and efficient airports have no party affiliation. No issue unites average Americans like the need for better infrastructure.”— Elizabeth Kautz, Mayor of Burnsville, Minnesota, in announcing U.S. Conference of Mayors 2020 Call to Action for presidential candidates
Mount Mary University's campus in Milwaukee may be getting a $40 million housing complex designated for aging nuns and single moms, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
The big picture: Universities across the country are being forced to entice enrollment from nontraditional candidates who aren't first-time, full-time students straight out of high school, writes Axios' Marisa Fernandez.
The state of play: Pending city approval, the project would include 52 assisted living units and 90 two-bedroom independent living units for School Sisters of Notre Dame and for other seniors. It's expected to break ground on the campus next year.
Yes, but: Nationwide enrollment shows adults over 35 years old are still a small percentage of post-secondary students.
See you next week!