The Transatlantic Cities Network (TCN), an initiative of the Urban and Regional Policy Program, met in Brussels Belgium from October 20-22 for the network’s seventh annual meeting. Hosted in partnership with the Brussels Capital Region, the meeting brought together the 23 representatives of the TCN’s participating cities to explore the many layers of the city’s social and economic complexity, including skilled and unskilled immigration to the region, the emergence of Brussels as a global city, and the impact of the region’s unique governance.
Highlights from the visit included a detailed look at the city’s immigrant communities, and especially those in the Schaarbeek neighborhood, and the economic contributions of the city’s large Moroccan and Turkish communities. It also featured a panel on demographic change in five TCN cities (Brussels, Birmingham, Torino, Atlanta, and Providence), and a roundtable with young professionals in Brussels that featured a discussion on local quality of life and talent retention. For a look at regionalism in Brussels, the delegation heard from the organizers of Brussels Metropolitan, an innovative bottom-up attempt coming largely from the private sector to spark regional collaboration and partnership. The group also investigated the delicate relationship the city has with EU institutions and workers.
To explore development in the city, the delegation visited several sites along the city’s Canal Zone, by far the city’s largest urban regeneration project. This included a look at Abattoir, a historic market area that will soon be transformed into a center of urban agriculture and food and that will form the backbone of a new continuous urban square in the area. The group also had lunch at Heksenketel, a social enterprise restaurant near by the Canal Zone with a strong workforce development component.
Founded in September 2008 and supported by the Compagnia di San Paolo and Bank of America, the TCN provides a framework for sustained policy exchange among a diverse network of policymakers, practitioners, and civic leaders, who are well-positioned to put new ideas into practice in their home cities. Participating cities in network were selected for their regional and economic significance, and are cities whose successes and challenges in urban policy present the potential for valuable exchange and learning.
Through the TCN and its other initiatives, the Urban and Regional Policy Program facilitates a sustainable network of globally aware and locally engaged leaders by promoting the transatlantic exchange of knowledge and the incubation of innovative solutions for current urban and regional challenges. For more information on the TCN and its activities, click here.