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[Editorial] Business Cities without Businesses, Innovative Cities without Innovation

[Editorial] Business Cities without Businesses, Innovative Cities without Innovation

Posted March. 13, 2005 22:46,   


The government has decided to designate 11 innovative cities and two to four business cities next month. Also, it plans to develop seven knowledge-based satellite cities such as Changwon and Gumi. Successful and efficient promotion of these city projects may contribute to the revitalization of the regional economy and balanced national development. However, incoherent project implementation by several ministries, project distribution based on political ends, and poor participation by private enterprises in the process may slow the performance and cause side and after effects, including an increase in real estate speculation and disorderly development.

The business city projects will be managed by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, knowledge-based satellite city construction by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Energy, and innovative city plans by the Presidential Commission on Balanced National Development under Cheong Wa Dae. With the Fourth National Comprehensive Territorial Plan finalized in 2000 still up in the air, the project to build an administrative city in Yeongi-Gongju area in Chungnam is being promoted as the government’s “fatal” plan. Funding plans or sophisticated designs to prevent wasteful duplicative investment are nowhere to be seen. Against this backdrop, land speculation and speculators going after large-sum land compensation money have reared their ugly heads again.

Meanwhile, private companies that can determine the success of the business city construction are not willing to participate in the plan. They have turned their back as suspicions over preferential distribution of development gains have been raised even before the incentives to encourage business participation took place. The Federation of Korean Industries and a few firms are considering engaging in a tourism and leisure-type business city project off the southwestern coast, but this is far from the business city that the government originally had in mind.

Regional conflicts are growing to win the bid for the innovative city project. The government said that it would evenly place the public agencies currently in the metropolitan area in 11 provinces and cities, excluding Seoul and the metropolitan area, Daejeon, and Chungcheong Province, but the question remains whether this would actually relieve the regional conflict and enhance the efficiency of land usage. Selection of regions must be based on economic principles to promote regional economies and pursue balanced national development. It is also urgent to head off duplicative and disorderly development by integrating the agencies in charge of these projects.