“Brainbelt” cities


Source: amazon.com

Source: amazon.com

I recently completed reading an interested and insightful book entitled The Smartest Places on Earth. Written by Antoine Van Agtmael and Fred Bakker, the book identifies and concentrates on those Rustbelt cities in the North America and Europe that have become emerging hotspots of innovation. The book provides in-depth details on cities like Albany, New  York; Akron, Ohio; Eindhoven, Netherlands; Dresden, Germany; and Malmo-Lund, Sweden; but also identifies many more (see list below).

Dresden's Silicon Saxony - Source: sireselection.com

Dresden’s Silicon Saxony – Source: siteselection.com

Admittedly, some cities on the list below may not fit everyone’s definition as a former Rustbelt city – i.e. Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill and Portland – though these two did go through a depressed economy phase. Raleigh-Durham from furniture and tobacco and Portland from forestry.

Below is the list of all Brainbelts (former Rustbelt cities or not) from the book, both identified in text and on maps. Some you may agree with, others you may not, but they provide the basis for an interesting discussion. To me, I questions how one plant can catapult tiny Batesville, Mississippi (<7,500 population) onto the list, especially since Mississippi State University is across the state in Starkville? I was also confused by the inclusion of Tel Aviv given the premise of the book was North America and Europe.

In terms of places left off the list, I think Albuquerque-Los Alamos, New Mexico; ; the Philadelphia-Princeton Region; Edinburgh, Scotland; Dublin, Ireland; Kalamazoo, Michigan; Lafayette-West Lafayette, Indiana; and Ottawa-Gatineau, Ontario/Quebec each certainly deserve consideration and/or inclusion.

I will say, that those cities in the book where the authors provide more detail, definitely presents a strong case. I was particularly impressed by the efforts in Albany and Akron. Furthermore, have been born, raised, and lived most of my life in the Great Lakes Region, the term/moniker “Brainbelt” is certainly more pleasing and inspiring than “Rustbelt.”

  • Aachen, Germany
  • Akron, Ohio
  • Albany, New York
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Austin, Texas
  • Barcelona, Spain
  • Batesville, Mississippi
  • Berlin, Germany
  • Bloomington, Indiana
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Boston-Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Buffalo, New York
  • Cambridge, UK
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Dayton, Ohio
  • Delft, Netherlands
  • Denver-Boulder, Colorado
  • Detroit-Troy, Michigan
  • Dresden, Germany
  • Eindhoven, Netherlands
  • Enschede, Netherlands
  • Fort Collins, Colorado
  • Greenville, South Carolina
  • Grenoble, France
  • Heerlen, Netherlands
  • Heidelberg, Germany
  • Houston, Texas
  • Huntsville, Alabama
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Kaiserslaut, Germany
  • Kansas City, Missouri-Kansas
  • Karlsruhe, Germany
  • Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
  • Knoxville, Tennessee
  • Leiden, Netherlands
  • Lincoln, Nebraska
  • Los Angeles-Orange County, California
  • Madison, Wisconsin
  • Malaga, Spain
  • Malmo-Lund, Sweden
  • Mecklenburg, Germany
  • Melbourne-Palm Bay, Florida
  • Milan, Italy
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Monterrey, Mexico
  • Munich, Germany
  • New York City, New York
  • Oulu, Finland
  • Oxford, UK
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Rochester, Minnesota
  • Rochester, New York
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • Salt Lake City-Ogden-Provo, Utah
  • San Diego, California
  • San Francisco, California
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Palo Alto, California
  • Seattle, Washington
  • Seville, Spain
  • Stockholm, Sweden
  • Stuttgart, Germany
  • Tel Aviv, Israel
  • Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Toulouse, France
  • Tucson, Arizona
  • Wageningen, Netherlands
  • Warsaw, Indiana
  • Washington, DC Region
  • Wichita, Kansas
  • Zurich, Switzerland

Source: The Smartest Places on Earth, pages 9-16.

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4 Responses to “Brainbelt” cities

  1. I hope Belfast, Northern Ireland is not being forgotten in the list of rustbelt to brainbelt……..

    Liked by 1 person

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