Lifecycle Dynamics of a Thriving Greenfield City: Why, What, How?

May 29, 2019 — The Big Picture

Our team has developed a thriving integrated greenfield city from scratch in a 40 square kilometers area in the South of India. In ten years, we have brought 45,000 jobs, over 2.5 Billion (USD) of investment from businesses in 27 countries into this region, and delivered a growth of over 20 percent year over year in the last few years.

This article is to share the thought process and success factors of our journey starting with why before the what and how.


WHY was the city needed

India has a fast growing economy, but the fact that agriculture is growing slower than manufacturing and services is driving a shift towards urbanization in greenfield and existing cities.

A greenfield city close to rural and metropolitan areas but connected to logistics infrastructure can act as a cost effective growth engine for the region, facilitate manufacturing and logistics, and sustain an integrated city of a population of 200,000 citizens, creating between 100,000 and 120,000 jobs.


WHAT a city needs to deliver to people and businesses

Physical infrastructure needs to be built on top of connectivity to other urban centers and markets by road, rail, sea and air. Civic and social infrastructure should support businesses and population of all economic strata. Depending on main economic drivers, access and proximity to raw material, skills, human resources, as well as well as physical and digital markets needs to be addressed.

Above providing robust basic infrastructures for roads, public spaces, water, wastewater, solid waste management, power, information, and communication platform, a greenfield city needs to provide a cost effective and efficient platform for supporting and aggregating businesses and citizens who live and work in the city.

Cities needs to develop a physical/digital infrastructure and integrate systems to deliver economic competitiveness and sustainability, environmental sustainability, and quality of social life that helps citizens realize their full economic and social potential.

A greenfield city must ensure that it has an innovation friendly, scalable, flexible, and transparent governance model to facilitate physical and digital collaboration, and a platform for engaging businesses and citizens to further innovations and improvement. These initiatives will ensure a thriving and successful city.


HOW a greenfield city needs to be developed to support growth

First thing is to have a clear strategy. A governance structure and model is key to managing and sustaining growth of a greenfield city.

We must give priority and choice to main economic drivers, for example, manufacturing, logistics services, trade, tourism, and hospitality. These are critical because a greenfield city needs to focus on limited drivers before it becomes a more broad-based urban and economic center.

Strategic choice of location, availability of connectivity/logistics infrastructure, proximity to sustainable and trainable human resources is also key to sustainable and healthy growth of a greenfield City.

Greenfield City developers should solve a problem felt by those who live in their city and not be driven by an ambition to make a statement that flatters the ego. In past instances, cities have been built in the wrong location because developers focused on wrong economic drivers. Substituting planning for poor foresight on one or more of the economic, environmental, and social factors will result in a failed city.

Many city projects have failed to survive due to the wrong source of funding. Long term funding at sustainable cost and ability and permissions of raise generate right capital or debt is very critical to the survival of a greenfield city.

Having a healthy cash flow and an a IRR/RoI model, efficient billing and collection of fees, taxes and goods and services provided by the city is also critical. Having broad services portfolio and delivery model helps to generate healthy revenues and cash flows for the city, ensures economic sustainability of operations, and works as a backbone for the high quality of citizen services and citizen happiness.

Finally, a city will evolve and matures in a sustainable fashion throughout its life cycle.


To surmise: what to expect

In the first phase, a greenfield city should be driven by an overarching top-down master plan based on assumptions made by developers from organizations and local governments.

In the second phase, more and more citizen services & business growth enables services to become interconnected/integrated with each other. Often using the IT applications/IoT and the city’s communication..

And finally, the third phase the growth is driven by citizens and businesses co-creating and collaborating in development, and the roll out of citizen and business services. Through this process, innovation platforms become more inclusive and democratic.

By following these when, how, and why’s, a greenfield city can reach maturity and becomes a self-sustaining and environmental growth engine.

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