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Plains states' momentum

Sunday, November 11, 2012
Omaha World-Herald

“Our research shows that the Great Plains, far from dying, is in the midst of a historic recovery,” says the report. Its primary author is California-based urban economist Joel Kotkin, who spoke a year ago at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce’s annual economic outlook luncheon.

The report doesn’t sidestep problems and challenges: “Large areas have been left behind — rural small towns, deserted mining settlements, Native American reservations — and continue to suffer widespread poverty, low wages and, in many cases, demographic decline.”

Still, the analysis points to the region’s opportunities in fields such as finance, insurance, manufacturing and biofuels, and notes new opportunities that build on strengths in agriculture and natural resources: “With its vast resources, the Great Plains is in an excellent position to take advantage of worldwide increases in demand for food, fiber and fuel.”

Joel on

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Watch Joel in this feature on the role of central planning in Los Angeles. View large version.

Interview on

"Greenurbia is the suburbs of the future. The suburbs of the 1950s were bedroom communities for people who commuted into the city. Today, there’s much more employment in the suburbs, and the big change is the number of people working full-time or part-time at home. Having people commute from one computer screen to another doesn’t make sense."

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Praise for The Next Hundred Million

Kotkin has a striking ability to envision how global forces will shape daily family life, and his conclusions can be thought-provoking as well as counterintuitive. It's amazing there isn't more public discussion about the enormous changes ahead, and reassuring to have this talented thinker on the case. — Jennifer Ludden, NPR national desk correspondent

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