Is Emanuel's proposed infrastructure fund just the beginning?

April 23, 2012

Download Story

On Tuesday, the Chicago City Council is expected to vote on Mayor Emanuel’s plan to establish a public-private  infrastructure trust to help fund future capital projects in the city.

It’s an innovative approach that’s drawn a mixture of praise, confusion and criticism.

But it’s exactly the kind of thing taxpayers may see more of in Chicago and in other cities around the globe. That’s because the challenges facing cities in the 21st century will require an entirely new approach to urban leadership.

That’s the thesis of some experts in urban policy, including Robin Hambleton.

Hambleton is a Professor of City Leadership at the University of the West of England in Bristol and is a leading expert in urban leadership in a globalizing world.

But he's best known to Chicagoans for his tenure as Dean of the University of Illinois-Chicago’s College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs. Hambleton led the school and its respected Great Cities Institute from 2002-2007.

He's back in Chicago Monday for a lecture at UIC in which he argues that municipal governments can't go-it-alone anymore when it comes to facing challenges of poverty, global climate change, job creation, health care and infrastructure investment. The challenges are too great - and many of the forces driving them are no longer place-based. Think multinational corporations or environmental changes, for instance.

Managing the challenges and capitalizing on the opportunities, Hambleton argues, requres a shift from government to governance.  And he says the leaders who can effectively bring together public, private, civic, community and corporate entities to common solutions will have a leg up.