Forget the bright lights and fast pace of living in two of the world’s greatest metropolises, city living for a new generation of financial workers is now more Jacksonville in Florida and Warsaw in Poland than New York and London.
Instead of serving to attract top talent, New York and London price out financial firms in search of fatter bottom lines. High-end banking is no longer tethered to the strictures of the urban hierarchy. The world is, effectively, flat. Convergence defines the economic geography.
If FIRE is dying, then what kind of proximity logic is taking its place? What kind of industries are economically divergent? ICE:
New York is reinventing itself once again, drawing on a different source of advantage, the unique assets that, regardless of the FIRE sector's future, will sustain it as a world city. Our intellectual, cultural and educational (ICE) strengths—already among the world's greatest—are becoming the essence of New York's global identity. The creative economy of New York is once again a gateway economy, as ICE assets originate here to influence and shape our world.
The hub of ICE ("intellectual, cultural, and educational") is the urban research university. White coats replace white collars. Private industry will flock to be near knowledge production, like a moth to a flame.
New York City does not dominate this world as Boston does. Cambridge's Kendall Square makes Manhattan look bush league by comparison:
Speaking in one of his shiny new labs on the banks of Manhattan’s East River, André Choulika, chief executive of Cellectis, says he is a “big Boston fan”, but that the cut-throat competition for talent there would make it tough for a small company like his.
“In New York, you don’t have your employees hired when they go to buy their sandwich from the food truck, like in Boston,” he says.
For biotech, New York is to Boston as Jacksonville is to New York for finance. The city has enough assets to be a player. But it isn't the top dog in this ICE industry. It's the Small Apple.