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An Overview of Charter Cities and The CCI with Founder Mark Lutter.
Episode 1321st September 2020 • Charter Cities Podcast • Kurtis Lockhart
00:00:00 02:40:01

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The Charter Cities Institute has seen rapid growth in recent months, having gone from three employees in February to ten as of this week, so we decided to do something a little different on today’s show. Kurtis Lockhart, Head of Research at the CCI sits down with Founder, Mark Lutter, to provide a high-level overview of the concept of charter cities, why their time has come, how the CCI fits into it all, and what the future holds. The first part of the conversation is all about charter cities, how they differ from conventional ones and special economic zones, and why they are becoming more important. From there, we move onto the history of charter cities, getting into some major recent advocates of the movement and a few examples of successful semi-autonomous cities from the post-war era and what we can learn from them. We turn our attention to some of the common criticisms of charter cities next, considering the political threat they could end up posing, how they propose to be different from the countries they exist in, and how to get people to start moving into them once development commences. Following this, we explore the implementation aspect of charter cities, discussing how the CCI is approaching six things that should be considered before building one: Governance, policies, urban planning, site selection, selecting an anchor tenant, and minimizing the risk of expropriation. The last part of our conversation is all about the CCI as an organization – Mark’s research that led to its founding, the challenges and successes it has seen, and the vision it has for the future. Be sure to catch this episode for an in-depth look at the potential charter cities and the CCI have to change the world for the better.

Key Points From This Episode:

•   A high-level definition of charter cities and why they are important.

•   How charter cities differ from conventional cities and special economic zones.

•   Four aspects of charter cities that enable them to spur long-term economic development.

•   How the CCI’s version of charter cities would be governed and set up through public/private partnerships.

•   Why governments would invite developers to build and collaborate on charter cities.

•   The amount of master plan cities being built globally and range of their value propositions.

•   The advantages of a charter city over a master-planned one and a regular one.

•   Ideal environments to build charter cities in; openness, rapid urbanization, and more.

•   Why now is a time where charter cities seem more valuable than ever.

•   Reinvigorating liberalism and the cosmopolitanism of trade cities using charter cities.

•   How charter cities fit into the effective altruist framework of tractability, neglectedness, and scalability.

•   Conceptions of scalability and the work being done to enable charter cities to scale.

•   A history of charter cities and how the CCI is building on Paul Romer and Patri Friedman’s work.

•   Early examples of cities built using a degree of planning and their modern influence.

•   Problems with unplanned and planned cities and the ‘slow feedback loop’ of cities.

•   Lessons to be learned from successful, semi-autonomous cities in the post-war era.

•   Common criticisms of charter cities and how they are based on misunderstandings.

•   How to get people to move to a charter city; reasons why people start and move to cities.

•   Why governments might expropriate their charter cities; the political threat they could pose.

•   Issues around building charter cities in upper or middle-income countries.

•   The role of incentives in charter cities being less prone to their host countries’ problems.

•   Six considerations when building a charter city and how the CCI is approaching them.

•   The six considerations: Governance, policies, urban planning, site selection, selecting an anchor tenant, and minimizing the risk of expropriation.

•   Raising money to build a charter city, who would fund each phase, and the different models that exist.

•   What goes into building the financial model for a charter city.

•   How the CCI was born as a way of building momentum for the charter city movement.

•   Why Mark was attracted to the idea of charter cities initially and the path his research took.

•   Challenges Mark faced in the early phases of the CCI and the lessons he has learned.

•   Successes the CCI has enjoyed around influencing developer agendas and getting projects off the ground.

•   The biggest constraints for the CCI, and constraints on charter cities more broadly.

•   Why the CCI strategy is focused on building ecosystems for charter cities rather than individual projects.

•   Building CCI in years one, two and three; hiring staff, and what the future holds.

•   What Mark is looking for in staff; entrepreneurship, regions of expertise, values, etc.

•   The different areas of work the CCI and charter cities will do in future, and ideal candidates to do it.

•   Peddling influence and why the CCI was founded in Washington.

•   What the CCI does in concrete terms as a think tank/advocacy organization.

•   How the CCI measures its impact; measuring outcomes rather than output.

•   Exciting projects and what the charter cities space will look like in the next few years.

•   The elevator pitch for the CCI and what they want to look like in ten years.

•   Where to find Mark and CCI online to learn more about what they do.

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Mark Lutter

Mark Lutter on Twitter

Mark Lutter Email

Charter Cities Institute

Charter Cities Institute on Facebook

Charter Cities Institute on Twitter

Kurtis Lockhart

Paul Romer

Wade Shepard on Twitter

Patri Friedman on Twitter

The Seasteading Institute

Francis Fukuama

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