Infrastructure Alliances: Supply-Chain Expansion and Multi-City Growth Coalitions

Infrastructure alliance in the Arizona Sun Corridor

Infrastructure alliance in Arizona

The journal Economic Geography has just released an online-first version of my forthcoming article “Infrastructure Alliances: Supply-Chain Expansion and Multi-City Growth Coalitions”. It’s the first of several articles I have in the pipeline which collectively explore the emergence of new, extremely large-scale urban growth coalitions in the United States—spanning polycentric urban areas of up to hundreds of kilometres.

I call this phenomenon “competitive multi-city regionalism”, and in this article, I argue that one important structural inducement to the formation of these new growth coalitions is transportation and logistics infrastructure development. This sort of investment can intensify existing economic activity or introduce new economic possibilities throughout an entire regional supply chain. So local capitalists have an easier time forming large-scale partnerships around these goals than around the traditional growth-machine agenda of land-use intensification, which runs into problems of zero-sum competitiveness. The result is “infrastructure alliances”—a new kind of local growth coalition.

Here’s the abstract:

Recent scholarship has suggested that infrastructure development is fragmenting local urban politics, but I argue that it has had the opposite impact at the multi-city regional scale. New multi-city growth coalitions are currently emerging across the United States, united by a shared interest in supply-chain expansion—the extension of effective supply chains and the intensification of circulatory possibilities in regional transportation networks. In this article I develop a theoretical account of these novel infrastructure alliances, and explore empirical examples across the domains of (1) logistics and trade, and (2) manufacturing and resource extraction supply chains. I conclude by considering possible future trajectories for infrastructure alliances and entrepreneurial urban governance.

The final author draft of the paper is freely available to download. The Version of Record of this manuscript has been published and is available in Economic Geography, 13 July 2016.