Metropolitan regions are led by their central cities. They want and need to grow, but the suburban sprawl and municipal fragmentation that growth produces stand in the way. Fragmentation handicaps the central city’s ability to effectively coordinate responses to regional issues. Mid-size regions are especially vulnerable to the effects of fragmentation, as they face unique economic development and sociological challenges. First, mid-size regions lack many of the assets necessary to compete globally for mobile capital. Second, social inequality plays out differently in mid-size regions, which are spatially constrained and have pervasive low-density land use patterns. Municipal boundaries reflect these divisions and determine who gets to participate in the redistribution of the community’s resources. Of the many urban policy options available for addressing these challenges, annexation is both the most potent and the most controversial. This article explores how the growth ambitions of mid-size central cities are affected by their respective state annexation regimes. The article examines annexation battles in Mississippi, Tennessee, and North Carolina to observe how different annexation regimes help or hinder midsize central cities. Ultimately the article finds that mid-size central cities need annexation regimes that help them to address social inequality while maximizing their economic competitiveness.


73 U. Pitt. L. Rev. 505 (2012)


Annexation (Municipal government), Capital -- United States, Economic development -- United States -- States, Metropolitan areas -- Economic conditions, Local government -- United States, Urban growth, Municipal government -- United States

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