start city

The five proposals to promote growth in Italy through the Metropolitan Cities

The Start City project has been designed to offer a positive and proactive contribution to the debate currently underway in the country in recognizing the benefits the success of Metropolitan Cities could bring to Italy as a whole.

The five proposals to promote growth in Italy through the Metropolitan Cities

The Metropolitan Cities Trigger of the Country’s Economic Relaunch

The proposals the Start City project has developed and is directing to the national government and metropolitan administrations are designed to offer a positive and proactive contribution to the debate currently underway in the country in recognizing the benefits the success of Metropolitan Cities could bring to Italy as a whole. Those areas which appertain to the conditions required for optimal development of the processes underway are:

  • relations with the country system;
  • relations with non-metropolitan Italy;
  • the “operative” model of Metropolitan Cities.


These proposals assume specific needs and strategic goals, including: creating the conditions for rapid accreditation of Metropolitan Cities in their role as defined by law and in accordance with the expectations of the public and business; activating the tools to connect the development processes of the Metropolitan Cities with those of the nation; promoting all the areas of benefit obtainable from the creation of the Metropolitan Cities, overcoming the purely local dimension; managing the consolidation transition period of the new entities, especially regarding relations with the public.

Specifically, the five proposals to promote growth in Italy and its local areas through the Metropolitan Cities are:

  1. Link the strategy for Italy’s competitiveness with the Metropolitan Cities by recognizing them as “projects for national development” and, coherent with this, organize the major choices and investment for the nation. They are:
    • Recognizing the Metropolitan Cities as “projects for national development”, i.e., those areas to provide impetus to the nation.
    • Promoting Metropolitan Cities as Italy’s logistics nodes by designing and organizing the transport and mobility system in a coherent way.
    • Guaranteeing the operational and financial conditions for the Metropolitan Cities to be able to realize their own visions of development and to attract investment, in conjunction with national strategy.
    • Activating a re-industrialization plan for Italy that starts from the tangible and intangible industrial assets present in Metropolitan Cities.
    • Using the Metropolitan Cities in the south as catalysts for the development of the Mezzogiorno, Italy’s south, starting from investment in infrastructure and mobility/accessibility, and the launching of high-impact flagship projects.

The intent is not to impoverish the rest of the country in favor of the Metropolitan Cities, but rather adopt clear and precise criteria for priorities in strategic choices linked to equally clear mechanisms for sharing the benefits throughout the nation.

  1. Guaranteeing Metropolitan Cities clear instruments and powers, with exclusive competencies based on the principle of subsidiarity, in issues related to economic development: strategic planning, zoning and land use, mobility and transport, and all basic services that benefit from economies of scale (law enforcement, waste and water management, etc.). At the same time, the new entities must be guaranteed the financial resources they need and they must be given specific fiscal powers in line with the competencies assigned them, the focus being on autonomy and the creation of true “metropolitan-based finances”.
  2. Provide incentive for coordination among Metropolitan Cities by pooling the co-development experiences that already exist (development pacts, inter-metropolitan roundtables, function-related alliances, etc.) and support the creation of high-impact joint projects (infrastructure, identification of production and research excellence clusters, etc.). The collaboration among Metropolitan Cities will make it possible to also overcome the competitive weaknesses of individual areas in terms of resources or assets without requiring new, substantial investment, but rather effectively integrating existing investment.
  3. Also by drawing inspiration from and building upon the experiences and tools developed by Metropolitan Cities, develop instruments that capitalize on non-metropolitan areas, starting from three key areas: governance, mechanisms for sharing resources/infrastructure/services and local partnerships for economic development. A period of policies guided by those developed for the metropolitan entities could also lead to the creation of an “Urban Agenda for Medium-Sized Cities” and, in terms of the country and its economy, make it possible to connect and balance the development opportunities of local areas.
  4. Activate a strategy of communication and information about Metropolitan Cities aimed at individuals and businesses, and developed on two levels:
    • a national-level “institutional” communication strategy for informational purposes, prepared and carried out by the national government and/or the Metropolitan Cities themselves;
    • operational communications that are the responsibility of the Metropolitan Cities for daily relations with local stakeholders about the development visions, projects, and programs for change that have been launched, thus helping to build awareness and consent among stakeholders, as well as a greater sense of belonging.

And finally, because the Metropolitan Cities are the trigger for an evolutionary process that involves the new institutions and, by osmosis, other levels of government and the rest of the nation, a number of further considerations could be evaluated from a medium-term standpoint that would benefit both metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas and the country and its economy:

  • the metropolitan boundaries in light of their functional characteristics and homogeneity with respect to neighboring areas;
  • efficiency of relations between Metropolitan Cities and regions;
  • upgrading the competencies of Metropolitan Cities personnel.

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