Richard Florida
by Richard Florida
Thu Sep 11th 2008 at 3:21pm UTC

Rural Areas, Mega- and Mini-Regions

The spiky world and the rise of the mega-region make place more important then ever before. But what if your place is not part of a mega-region or a spiky center? Two places our team has thought a great deal about are Australia – where Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane do not form a mega-region – and Scandinavia, where Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, and Helsinki are also too far apart. One idea is to deepen connective tissue and form “virtual” mega-regions of sorts.

U.S. Endowment takes on the even thornier issue of how rural areas can connect to spiky globalization which suggests “that individual rural communities will have an increasingly difficult time competing. Thus, the need to form ‘mini-regions’ built upon clustering of potential that if not ready to compete globally are vitally linked to mega-regions in a symbiotic relationship.”

Sounds reasonable to me: What do you think?

4 Responses to “Rural Areas, Mega- and Mini-Regions”

  1. stu Says:

    richard: good post and i agree…

    in roanoke,va we must join with other sub-regions in our DMA or tv media market to create a rural mega region and at the same time have tangible connections with larger metro areas (Washington DC, Charlotte, etc) through public transportation to take advantage of any geographical arbitrage just like joe biden did for so long commuting from DC to Delaware….

  2. Cliff Lippard Says:


    Excellent question. Living in Nashville and having just completed an analysis of economic and demographic concentration in TN, I have been pondering similar questions, not just as they relate to rural areas, but to MSAs outside of the Megas. East TN (Chattanooga, Knoxville, the I-75 corridor) are part of the Char-Lanta Mega, but most of Middle and West TN lie outside of Megas. Both Memphis and Nashville have had some success positoning themselves as niche metros. Memphis as a major international transportation hub and tourist destination. Nashville as the music hub (as you have commented on extensively), a tourism hotspot, and to a lesser extent a surface transportation and healthcare center. The rural areas and many of the smaller metros and micros in TN are having a much harder time positioning themselves for success. Even Memphis appears to be falling behind Nashville, Knoxville, and Clarksville. It seems that another strategy, in addition to the virtual mega strategy, may be the niche strategy.

  3. Roland Harwood Says:

    I’m in, as social networks are the new cities after all, not simply an analogy but actually fulfilling some of the functions that cities or regions provide (or used to provide).

    FYI – I’ve blogged about that topic a few times in the last year:

    There is also a fascinating organisation in the Highlands of Scotland called Distance Lab ( who are excellent on this topic.


  4. Michael Wells Says:

    We’ve just come home from driving from Portland to the Tetons and back. I was surprised at how prosperous much of backroad agricultural Idaho looked. New silos, farm equipment, well kept fields. Even ignoring the sprouting MacMansions, it doesn’t look like an economic downturn out there. Where we saw distress was in the inner suburban sprawl of Boise — even though Boise itself looks healthy.

    For various reasons we’ve been in small city rural America this year — Boise ID, Provo UT and Sitka AK. All of them have small beachheads of creative class amenities in their downtowns — good restaurants, arty shops and affluent looking patrons.

    Somehow it makes me wonder what would happen in the farm states if the federal subsidies were to disappear. Might the market move farmers to produce different crops, and might they be more attuned to the markets in the cities?And might small farms make a comeback if the agribusiness corporations weren’t “competing” by living off the taxpayers? Certainly small farms close in to West Coast cities have been saved by Farmers Markets and the “eat locally” movement.