21st Century Cities Initiative
The 21st Century Cities Initiative (21CC) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) is the campus hub for research, education, engagement, and outreach related to expanding economic opportunity for urbanites in developed and developing nations. Urban economic growth and quality of life hinges on the skills and health of the local populace. In the age of “big data”, the ever increasing abundance of data allows for a precise investigation of the causes and consequences of both urban economic growth and urban poverty.
At a time of rising income inequality and increased political polarization, it is essential to embrace an interdisciplinary approach to devise policies, incentives, interventions, and legislation that facilitate inclusive economic growth. Given JHU’s long standing academic strengths in social science, business, public health, data science, and engineering, 21CC provides an interdisciplinary platform for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates to collaborate with policymakers, private industry, city government departments, NGO practitioners, and academics and researchers at other universities and institutes to identify and devise solutions to pressing social challenges.
Working in concert with these groups, we seek to identify new strategies and learn best practices from cities around the world to enhance the vibrancy of our home town of Baltimore and to bring the knowledge gained here to other cities. We rely on formal statistical hypothesis testing to evaluate the intended and unintended consequences of different policies.
The wellbeing of all urban residents is incumbent on a thriving economy that grows local businesses that create quality jobs. Baltimore’s labor force and employment growth has remained low in recent years, ranking in the lowest quartile among peer regions. With this in mind, the 21st Century Cities Initiative has focused on the issue of small business financing and economic development in Baltimore City. 21CC has been working with government agencies, local investors, financial institutions, small business owners, policymakers, and technical assistance providers to map the financial system for small businesses in the city over the past decade. This research has begun to raise questions around what elements comprise a robust small business economy in a city by investigating financing programs, technical assistance, job training, R&D, regional clusters, transportation networks, and more. By working with economic development stakeholders, we aim to move Baltimore City forward by providing insights and identifying best practices from peer cities.
Partnering to Improve Cities
21CC is a critical part of Johns Hopkins University’s larger efforts to support and strengthen Baltimore and other cities with similar challenges. As Baltimore’s largest anchor institution, Johns Hopkins takes seriously its obligations as an employer, real estate holder and economic engine. The university oversees a number of community building initiatives, such as inclusive neighborhood revitalization strategies surrounding its campuses, local hiring and purchasing programs, and live where you work subsidies for employees.
We work closely with more than 200 Johns Hopkins faculty members across disciplines who are interested in issues related to cities 21CC coordinates with the various research efforts across the university in developing and implementing its research, convening and policy activities.