(KCPW News) The federal government should help cities in the Intermountain West as they grow into their new role as powerful, megapolitan areas. So says a new Brookings Institution report on what it calls "the new American Heartland." Alan Matheson of Envision Utah agrees with the findings. He says the region's rugged individualism is healthy, but the new west will need partners.
"We shouldn't be looking for a paternalistic or regulatory role. It should be kind of this new, constructive, empowering role, a partnership," Matheson says. "And what that might mean is, I think, is, on one front, a convening role to help these various regions to work together, kind of a regional barn raising."
Western cities need federal direction on many of the most controversial issues impacting the region, including immigration, scarce water resources, climate change and transportation, Matheson says. But he believes the federal government shouldn't be directly implementing changes, rather it should enact policies that act as a catalyst for regional collaboration. The report specifically highlights Envision Utah and the Wasatch Front for embracing this regional, collaborative perspective.
"We're increasingly recognizing that the future is going to be different," Matheson says. "You may win the Wal-Mart and lose the war, unless we as a region pull together and compete effectively, not just against Denver and Phoenix, but against Singapore and New Delhi in this global economy."
The report focused on five "megapolitan" regions in the West, the Wasatch Front, the Front Range, the Sun Corridor, Albuquerque-Santa Fe, and Las Vegas. Click here for a copy of the report.