USC Price Leads Metro Development Workshop in Brazil

USC Price Leads Metro Development Workshop in Brazil

By By Matthew Kredell

Price Leads Metro Development Workshop in Brazil From left, panelists Edson Aparecido, Eric Heikkila, Hasan Ikhrata and Richard Green
Photo courtesy of Diana Meirelles da Motta

A contingent of professors, researchers and alumni from the USC Price School of Public Policy visited Sao Paulo in August to participate in a two-day workshop on metropolitan development.

The group from USC Price shared experiences and research regarding land use, transportation planning, housing, economic development and infrastructure with local academics and officials from the state government.

The workshop was an outgrowth of Dean Jack H. Knott’s visit to Brazil in December, when he met with Edson Aparecido, secretary of metropolitan development for the State of San Paulo. This was the first step in exploring the potential for a jointly funded research agenda between USC Price and the University of Sao Paulo’s Department of Architecture and Urbanism that aims to inform and develop urban policies to promote metropolitan development. Aparecido plans to visit USC in November.

It’s all part of the growing international focus of USC Price and the university.

“At USC Price, we are determined to train future leaders in our professions,” said Eric Heikkila, professor and director of USC Price’s international initiatives, who led the excursion. “We know that future leaders must have a global perspective. So we infuse a global outlook into our curriculum, our research agenda, our community and professional outreach.”

In addition to Heikkila, USC Price was represented by Richard Green, director and chair of the Lusk Center for Real Estate; senior fellow Richard Little; Leonard Mitchell and Deepak Bahl, director and associate director, respectively, of the Center for Economic Development; and Hasan Ikhrata, executive director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG).

In his presentation, Heikkila looked at how urban development is influenced by global forces, comparing Los Angeles and Sao Paulo to other major cities around the world. He said Los Angeles is a nexus to the world and major node in the global network.

“I recounted for the group in Sao Paulo how these different things helped view ways global and local intersect here in Southern California, and related that to the case of Sao Paulo itself, encouraging them to think in a similar way in how global and local may intersect in Sao Paulo,” Heikkila said.

Sao Paulo is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, significantly larger than Los Angeles. Heikkila described it as having more industrial character than Los Angeles, though he said Los Angeles has a significantly greater economic presence and much larger cultural signification.

“Part of the challenge in Sao Paulo is to think about how to go beyond being a metropolitan area that is primarily industrial and develop more of a cultural and political dimension that registers on a global scale,” Heikkila said.

Little spoke about the options for public-private partnerships to finance infrastructure needs. For these partnerships to be effective, he said, they must be supported from the public side with sustainable revenue streams before the private sector will place significant capital at risk.

“Brazil’s challenge will be to create a financial environment where investors are comfortable leaving their money parked in Brazilian infrastructure for extended periods of time,” Little said.

In other presentations from USC Price faculty, Green spoke on lessons in housing policies for the State of Sao Paulo by drawing on illustrative cases from around the world; Ikhrata explained how the use of financial incentives enabled SCAG to influence and coordinate the policies of hundreds of local governments in Southern California toward common objectives on land use, transportation and housing; and Mitchell and Bahl used examples from the Center for Economic Development’s portfolio of projects to illustrate how local economic development is conducted.

“It was useful for each of us to see the conditions in Sao Paulo,” Heikkila said. “It’s not always easy to get a sense of what life is like in different places by judging from data. We were privileged to be hosted by people who have very important positions with respect to these areas. Being able to talk to them about their own experiences and what has worked and not worked for them certainly was very valuable for us.”