Charter Cities Commentary: July 2020

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Charter cities commentary:


Hi everyone,

The charter cities moment is here! Over the last two months we’ve seen a surge in interest about charter cities. The Charter Cities Institute has spent the last three years laying the groundwork for the charter cities space, building up a set of ideas and a network. Now there is a sea change in the level of interest. In addition to the increased interest, we are seeing some of our partner projects hit important milestones. New interest + increased traction =  a charter cities moment.

Frankly, the surge caught me by surprise. I assumed COVID-19 would slow capital flows and delay projects. However, after the initial lockdown, city developers are back to work and more optimistic than ever. The operating assumption seems to be that COVID-19 is a temporary blip and that their funding streams and development plans are secure.

The increased interest has come from two sources, 1) new city developments reaching out to us and 2) increased discussion about charter cities on social media and other forums.

Typically, we get one credible new city development approaching us every two months. Over the last two months, four such projects have reached out. Given that these projects are have no relation to each other or and do not share common networks, it’s hard to understand the upsurge in interest. Perhaps our content is sufficiently widespread that it’s more accessible, perhaps the boredom of being locked at home generated more online activity which led them to us.

The second indication of increased interest in charter cities comes from social media discussions and other forums. Online discussions about charter cities have been steadily increasing over the past year. However, the last few months have seen the number of social media conversations about charter cities skyrocket. We’re seeing a lot more tweets about charter cities, more articles, Medium posts, etc. The charter cities discourse is better than ever and is expanding to new audiences.

I’ve spoken with other leaders in the charter cities space and they confirm this feeling. It is difficult to further articulate, but the after-spending years trying to lay the groundwork, things are accelerating at an increasing rate. I’ve never been more excited about the future of charter cities.

Links Roundup

I’m speaking Tuesday at a Lincoln Network event on how charter cities can promote American values overseas.

Joe Lonsdale, one of our supporters, wrote a great article on the importance of charter cities. Thanks for the shoutout!

Jeff Lonsdale develops a typology of charter cities, differentiating between low income charter cities, high income charter cities, and refugee cities.

Shiwen Yap argues that Singapore can expand global influence by using their expertise to develop a global network of charter cities.

The Guardian published a sympathetic article about Seasteading and how its grown over the last few years.

Prospera CEO Erick Brimen writes in Fortune that charter cities can reduce the demand for immigration to the US by helping to develop Central America.

Victoria Harbor Group CEO Ivan Ko is quoted in the Financial Times regarding his plan to build a new city for the Hong Kong people.


As always,

Thank you for reading.

Mark Lutter
Founder and Executive Director, Charter Cities Institute