Try to glom onto megacity wealth

The Boston skyline from across the Charles River in Cambridge.

The Boston skyline from across the Charles River in Cambridge.

From Robert Whitcomb's "Digital Diary,'' in

Emily Badger had a very important story in the Dec. 24 New York Times entitled “The Megacity, Untethered: Urban Giants are going global but losing their connections with smaller neighbors’’.

It basically says the such big globalized high-tech cities as Boston, San Francisco and Seattle no longer need as much their old connections with manufacturing centers, both nearby or elsewhere in America. She writes:

“The companies that now drive the Bay Area’s soaring wealth — and that represent part of the American economy that’s booming — don’t need these communities in the same way. Google’s {which also has a large operation in Cambridge/Boston} digital products don’t have a physical supply chain. Facebook doesn’t have dispersed manufacturers. Apple, which does make tangible things, now primarily makes them overseas.’’}

“A changing economy has been good to the {San Francisco} region, and to a number of other predominantly coastal metros like New York, Boston and Seattle. But economists and geographers are now questioning what the nature of their success means for the rest of the country. What happens to America’s manufacturing heartland when Silicon Valley turns to China? Where do former mill and mining towns fit in when big cities shift to digital work? How does upstate New York benefit when New York City increases business with Tokyo?’’

So how do the old manufacturing cities of, for example, Worcester and Providence deal with this problem? They become lower-cost extensions of Greater Boston, using their higher-education institutions to supplement the work being done in Greater Boston. They’re better positioned to do this sort of thing than are most old American mid-sized cities.