Flywheels: How Cities Are Creating Their Own Futures

by Tom Alberg

PUBLISHING NOVEMBER 2021

Once a blue-collar outpost, Seattle transformed into one of the world’s major innovation hubs, home to companies such as Microsoft and Amazon. As other cities try to solve the riddle of creating vibrant economies, many have looked to it as a model of a tech-driven urban renaissance. However, against the backdrop of skyrocketing rents and house prices, homelessness, public safety concerns, persistent racial inequality, and a widening gap between the haves and have-nots, big tech has become a popular target.

Tom Alberg, a venture capitalist who was one of the first investors in Amazon, draws on his experience in Seattle’s tech boom to offer a vision for how cities and businesses can build a brighter future together. He explores how cities can soar to prosperity by creating the conditions that encourage innovation. Like flywheels, livable cities generate momentum by drawing creative citizens who launch businesses. Success attracts more talent, energizing local economies and accelerating further innovation. Alberg emphasizes the importance of city governments and tech companies partnering to address civic challenges. He reflects on why the benefits of the tech boom have not been distributed equally and what business and government leaders must do differently to ensure inclusive growth. The book also examines success stories from smaller cities and their lessons for other up-and-coming tech hubs. Demonstrating the need for innovative thinking that encourages livability alongside economic growth, Flywheels is timely reading for everyone from mayors to business leaders to engaged citizens.

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