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City's Economic Future Linked to Brain Power

Over time, scholars of urban life have explained New York's special qualities in various ways. Our city, from its birth as a Dutch harbor Dutch Harbor: see Aleutian Islands.  to the construction of the Erie Canal Erie Canal, artificial waterway, c.360 mi (580 km) long; connecting New York City with the Great Lakes via the Hudson River. Locks were built to overcome the 571-ft (174-m) difference between the level of the river and that of Lake Erie. , was first a gateway economy. Then, as other cities surpassed New York New York, state, United States
New York, Middle Atlantic state of the United States. It is bordered by Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and the Atlantic Ocean (E), New Jersey and Pennsylvania (S), Lakes Erie and Ontario and the Canadian province of
 as a port and a manufacturing center, New York became America's center America's Center is a convention center located in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, and is situated next to the Edward Jones Dome, the home of the National Football League's St. Louis Rams.  for more modern forms of commerce, centered on three crucial industries: finance, insurance and real estate-what came to be labeled the FIRE sector of the economy.The FIRE sector turned on locational advantage. In an economy fueled by the stock market, businesses found real opportunity in locating near the trading floor. This was the way to conduct daily, and even hourly, transactions. Insurance followed finance, and real estate thrived. The world impact of the FIRE sector combined with high-paying jobs to create a value premium that propelled the city's growth and validated New York's claim as the world's capital.

Yet as this new century dawned, the number of city jobs in finance, insurance and real estate was dwindling-down 15 percent (from 506,000 to 433,000) over the last 15 years. And, as we look forward, cyberspace Coined by William Gibson in his 1984 novel "Neuromancer," it is a futuristic computer network that people use by plugging their minds into it! The term now refers to the Internet or to the online or digital world in general. See Internet and virtual reality. Contrast with meatspace.  increasingly will deny oxygen to New York's FIRE sector; today's chief executives can conduct business from Aspen aspen, in botany
aspen: see willow.
Aspen, city, United States
Aspen (ăs`pən), city (1990 pop. 5,049), alt. 7,850 ft (2,390 m), seat of Pitkin co., S central Colo.
 or make deals from the Caribbean. They plan their lives and the locations of their businesses accordingly.

Instead of physical proximity, the channels of commerce soon may be primarily fiber-optic cables and network servers. Even today, a stock-market trade by a specialist takes an average of 12 seconds longer than an identical trade performed electronically. Those seconds can translate into millions. While neither the NYSE NYSE

See: New York Stock Exchange
 nor its specialists will be obsolete-specialists will still be needed to control volatility, and the exchange will adapt and evolve-proximity will be discounted in a market that can be accessed from virtually anywhere.

The effect of this change on New York is potentially profound. Although FIRE will remain important for some time, it seems unlikely to be viable as a long-term strategic base. And finding a replacement won't be simple. Surely the solution is not to be found in relative tax and cost advantages, vis-à-vis Route 128 in Boston or the Research Triangle in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

However, there is a pathway to a new value proposition for New York. Cities exist because they draw people together. Regardless of the future of the FIRE sector, there are unique assets here in New York that increasingly will sustain our city as a world city. Our intellectual, cultural and educational (ICE) assets-already among the world's greatest-will become the essence of New York's being.

The elements are already in place-experienced, but not known, by most New Yorkers. Consider just a few statistics: New York State has become the leading destination for freshmen leaving their home state for college. Our state is home to more of the top 10 universities and liberal-arts colleges than any other state, and six of our universities (again, more than any other state) house research medical schools that rank among the nation's top 50. New York City's universities drive much of this. There are more college students in our city-per capita-than in any other city. It should surprise nobody who is aware of this data that New York is the intellectual capital of the world in fields as diverse as philosophy and soft-condensed-matter physics. The concentration of intellectual activity here displays itself vividly in science: over 100 Nobel laureates Winners of the Nobel Prize are scientists, writers and peacemakers who have been awarded in their field of endeavour, and who are known collectively as either Nobel laureates or Nobel Prize winners.  in science; 45 active members of the National Academy of Sciences This list includes approximately 2,000 current (not past) members and 350 foreign associates of the United States National Academy of Sciences, each of whom is affiliated with one of 31 disciplinary sections. Each person's name, primary institution, and election year are given.  in bioscience alone; the highest concentration of science students and postdocs; and more Ph.D.'s granted in life science than in 48 states.

Better known than these academic assets is the enormous array of cultural and entertainment assets-a cross section of talent that intersects daily, not so much in the workplace as at the dinner table.

Of course, the ICE sector itself provides jobs. Indeed, the number of jobs in this sector is up 30 percent over the last 15 years. And they are high-quality jobs, requiring a high degree of expertise and training. But it is not as an engine of employment that ICE is key to the city's future. Rather, ICE can keep FIRE from extinguishing by creating a different value premium for our city which, if properly nurtured and featured, increasingly can sustain it as a world capital. Our distinctive set of intellectual, cultural and educational assets draw people to New York, and have the power to anchor talented workers and creative jobs.

These assets will influence those who decide where to locate businesses. In turn, the ICE sector will attract and electrify e·lec·tri·fy  
tr.v. e·lec·tri·fied, e·lec·tri·fy·ing, e·lec·tri·fies
1. To produce electric charge on or in (a conductor).

 a talented and knowledgeable work force to support their businesses. Even real estate will come to depend on ICE-on the desire of people to live here even when they don't have to do business here, except as a voluntary choice. Large parts of FIRE will survive and thrive in New York, but only if the city maximizes its ICE-sector advantage.

So a strategy for the New York of the 21st century must focus on the ICE sector-on the life of the mind that makes New York an interpersonal in·ter·per·son·al  
1. Of or relating to the interactions between individuals: interpersonal skills.

 magnet that cannot be replicated in cyberspace, on the creativity that will keep commerce and those who engage in it here, and on educational institutions as the idea generators that will yield path-breaking and profitable research. ICE not only promises advances in the sciences and the arts, but also provides the advantages that will keep people in New York and draw in new talent and new energy.

If the ICE sector is to succeed as an engine for New York's future, civic and institutional leaders must embrace and nurture NURTURE. The act of taking care of children and educating them: the right to the nurture of children generally belongs to the father till the child shall arrive at the age of fourteen years, and not longer. Till then, he is guardian by nurture. Co. Litt. 38 b.  it. Our universities, cultural institutions, businesses and government will need to act more aggressively to develop a set of interlocking interlocking /in·ter·lock·ing/ (-lok´ing) closely joined, as by hooks or dovetails; locking into one another.
interlocking Obstetrics A rare complication of vaginal delivery of twins; the 1st
 networks that better integrate us all and connect us to the life of the city, and we must work to create together a set of venues to magnify mag·ni·fy
To increase the apparent size of, especially with a lens.
 and harness the city's creative energy.

In his noted poem, Robert Frost wrote, "Some say the world will end in fire / Some say in ice." For New York, FIRE and ICE are not an ending, but a prescription. FIRE has sustained us for decades, and the addition of ICE can secure our future. We should welcome the days of ICE ahead of us.

John Sexton John Edward Sexton (born 1942) is the fifteenth President of New York University, having held this position since 2002. Prior to that, he served as Dean of the NYU School of Law, one of the top five law schools in the country according to U.S. News and World Report.  is the president of New York University New York University, mainly in New York City; coeducational; chartered 1831, opened 1832 as the Univ. of the City of New York, renamed 1896. It comprises 13 schools and colleges, maintaining 4 main centers (including the Medical Center) in the city, as well as the . Abraham Lackman is the president of the Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities.
Copyright 2005 The New York Observer
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Author:John Sexton and Abraham M. Lackman
Publication:The New York Observer
Date:Feb 20, 2005
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