Index > Briefing
Thursday, July 15, 2021
Midwest: America's New Space for Development
Chan Kung

It has been many years since spatial theory was proposed, and applied in the analysis of geopolitical situation. This paper will analyze the spatial differences between the American East (the East) and the American Midwest (the Midwest) from a spatial perspective. The stereotype of the United States is generally the East Coast of the United States, such as Washington, New York, Florida, or the West Coast, such as Los Angeles, California, San Francisco, Seattle, and so on. These places are indeed the most economically developed states of the United States, where capital and industry gather. To a certain extent, they do represent classic America.

Still, the liberal, tech-savvy, entrepreneurial California of classic America is very different from the East Coast. On the West Coast of America, property prices have soared and capital has gathered as talent has poured in. The West Coast, where people are accustomed to wearing Steve Jobs T-shirts, is a far cry from the prim but contentious East Coast. This kind of difference, is the difference that has the structural characteristic in terms of the space. Not only is such difference hard to change, but it will also become more intense. The same goes for politics. Even during the time of Trump administration, California was an unshakable Democratic territory, and those liberal intellectuals in California supported the Democrats unwaveringly in accordance with local cultural traditions, and Trump could do nothing to change this status quo.

Interestingly, once the concept of space exhibits structural characteristics is identified and defined, many issues will become clearer, as is the case in the Midwest. This vast region, located east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the Appalachians, is actually showing increasing diversity. It is influenced by both the east and the west, with pressures, crises, and opportunities to rise again. One thing is certain, at least, that this vast region is showing increasing diversification, or its distinctive relative independence.

Contrary to a common perception, this vast Midwest is just a bunch of rednecks, because that's not what the real Midwest is all about.

If you drive through the vast desert of Arizona, you will find, and feel, that you have entered a sea of red sandstone, canyons, wilderness, and forests. These are all valuable untapped resources, and Arizona is the most important part of the Midwest, the country's leading copper producing region. Copper production in the Midwest accounts for 50% of the total copper production in the U.S., and the Midwest produces 5 million grams of gold and 35 million grams of silver annually. Besides, it also has oil, energy, and other resources. Arizona's energy industry, much more than just supplying the state's needs, is gradually becoming the most important energy hub in the American West. Among other things, it has a thriving tourism industry and important gem deposits where Tucson's Gem Show is one of the world's leading exhibitions in this industry. It also contributes 47% of America's cotton output. Of course, Arizona also has those conventional American industries, such as the electronic information industry. In recent years, Salt Lake City has developed into a manufacturing center for artificial hearts, computers, and robots. Arizona is also a hub for the U.S. Air Force, where 95% of the nation's fighter pilots are trained.

Utah is one of the first U.S. states to have commercial relations with China, it has had dealings with China since as early as 1986. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or more commonly known as Mormon, is headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah. Mormon population makes up 60% to 70% of the state's population. As traditional Mormon rules encourage early marriage and childbearing, the state has a very young population, which is unique in the aging U.S., giving it a demographic advantage. Although the size of Utah's economy is not significant in the U.S., it is extremely rich in mineral resources, with more than 200 types of mineral deposits, and 38 of which have been exploited on a large scale. Copper production in Utah accounts for one-fifth of the total copper production in the U.S., and the Bingham Canyon Mine in Utah is one of the world's most famous copper mines, with its output value accounting for more than half of the state's total. Utah is also the largest producer of beryllium in the United States, and it also produces large amounts of gold, silver, lead, molybdenum, and other resources. It has 115 billion tons of coal reserves and an estimated 410 million barrels of oil reserves.

In terms of the high-tech sector, Utah is located at the crossroads of fiber optics in the Western United States, so all the major data and information networks needed large data centers to converge in Utah. In addition, the state has a research and development department for the defense industry and military materials. It is well-known that the places where house prices are rising are the places where the economy is performing well. The ratio of house prices to household income in Salt Lake City is 1:5.3, higher than the national average, meaning households there would need more than five years of income to buy a house. The same is true in Denver, Colorado, and this is an important trend sign.

In fact, a visit to Denver, Colorado, would leave the visitor deeply impressed. At first, Denver sought to become the "Great Denver", but later realized that it might be better to become a regional center, so the city's development goal became the Mile High City with regional characteristics. In fact, Denver is the cultural and artistic center of the Midwest. Driving from the Arizona desert over the seemingly endless hills to the towns on the Colorado border, one can feel that the design of the towns here shows a very different taste here. Many people who come to Denver will visit the so-called business district such as 16th Street Mall, but the most worthwhile place to visit should be the Denver history museums and the surrounding neighborhood, because that is where the culture of Denver and the West is represented. Denver, in particular, is the only city in the United States with free bus service, which reflects the city's ambitions.

There is a lot of information about Denver's economy and industries available online, so they will not be repeated here, but among Denver's industries, spacecraft manufacturing is one of the most important industries in Denver. Colorado has the second highest aerospace employment rate in the United States. With four military command bases (U.S. Air Force Space Command, Army Air Force Command, North American Aerospace Defense Command [NORAD], and U.S. Northern Command) and several air force bases closely linked to the aerospace industry, Colorado is the nation's most important strategic development base for the aerospace industry. Florida is actually just a place to launch rockets; the real center of rocket production in the United States is Denver, Colorado. In addition, Denver's attractiveness to capital and high-tech companies is also growing rapidly. Other than its headquarter, Google's largest regional center is located in Denver; Tesla's development department is also based in Denver. In fact, many of the administrative centers of the United States federal government related to the Midwest are set up in Denver, which itself indicates Denver's special status.

The Midwest is actually a relatively independent space. Although the GDP ranking of the states in the Western United States is not high, the statistics of GDP cannot represent the whole, because the places that manage money in the U.S. are the major cities on the east and west coasts, the same places where the cost is high. Therefore, the GDP calculated by the amount of money must be the highest in those places. If GDP data is excluded for comprehensive consideration, then the rankings published by USA Today for 2020 are more valuable. If taking into account GDP growth, unemployment rate, poverty rate, and other data, the top 5 states with the best economic conditions in the U.S. are Utah, Idaho, Washington, Colorado, and Maryland. Of those, three and a half (Washington counts as half) are in the Midwest. Colorado and Arizona also rank among the top 10 states for net population growth between 2011 and 2016.

The four criteria of resources, large markets, young population, and boldness, actually define the new space for the future of the United States. Eastern cities often face a number of thorny institutional problems in their development, which, to some extent, is a first-mover disadvantage. Among other things, strong labor unions in the Eastern United States and "political correctness" from all sides will consume a lot of time, resources, and costs. Midwestern cities are admired for their boldness in development. Federico Peña, who led the demolition and development in Denver, went on to become America's Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Energy, even Denver has a road is named after him. However, the leaders who led the demolition and development in New York at the time, like Robert Moses, were the targets of criticism. In terms of politics, Texas also stands in contrast to the obscurity of East Coast for George W. Bush, once ranked as the sixth-best President in American history, was also one who decisively launched two wars.

The United States is a country with a vast expanse of land and there are huge amounts of untapped resources and space in the Midwest. The Midwest’s urbanization and industrial transformation are well under way, at least smoothly than cities like Detroit and Chicago, which are heavily influenced by the Eastern United States. If nothing goes wrong, America's Midwest will be much more influential in the future. From spatial perspective, the United States will have three "capitals" in the future, each located in the three major spatial zones of the United States: One is Washington, D.C., the capital of the Eastern United States, which is now the capital of the federal government; there is also a de facto "capital" in California on the Pacific coast, which is Los Angeles; then there will also be a "capital" of the Midwest, which may actually be in Denver, a real potential capital that represents and reflects the spirit of the United States.


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