This chapter discusses the importance of making strategic investments in information communication technologies (ICTs) in order to benefit from globalization and the benefits created by robust exportoriented business clusters. Examples of investments made by local governments in India, Jamaica, and Hong Kong will illustrate how an adept ICT strategy can position a city to grow local industries and encourage exports. The authors argue that a coherent and comprehensive city marketing plan can attract and retain investments and play an instrumental role in the city’s future prosperity. Intelligent investments in ICT infrastructure that address a city’s unique attributes, objectives, needs, and competitive advantages can open up new export markets, especially in the service industry where ICTs can make local labour globally accessible.
Wealthy trading city-states like Hong Kong have embraced them as a vehicle to spur growth, developing economies have claimed that they are an effective way to connect local merchants to international markets, and the United Nations believes that they are an important tool for municipalities in third world states in the fight against poverty (Business World, 2004). Indeed, information communications technologies are rapidly becoming an important element of many cities’ marketing strategies to grow local industries and encourage exports—especially given that ICTs are an important factor driving the institutional and organizational transformations occurring in public administration (Gascó, 2003). Developing an export oriented business community is a vital part of ensuring long-term survival and prosperity (Stough, Haynes & Salazar, 2005, p. 23). Regardless of whether a city aims to export services or manufactured goods, making strategic investments in relevant information communications technologies is a prerequisite.
Intelligent investments in ICTs are a critical element of a successful marketing plan, especially at the product design phase and product promotion phase of the marketing mix. Cities, as the product being marketed, can be moulded to attract and retain investment and export-oriented businesses. This entails designing and promoting the city to achieve the goals of policy makers and export intensive businesses. In other words, utilizing ICTs in a fashion that both works within local constraints and gives exporters a competitive advantage to locating in a certain municipality will spur the growth of an export-oriented business community.
Cities, in collaboration with national governments, in developed and developing nations can re-design themselves using ICTs to create an atmosphere that is conducive to attracting and retaining export-oriented businesses. Examples of success stories in the service sector will be used to illustrate how making critical investments in ICTs and other areas can spur economic growth and diversification. By investigating the best practices being used by cities, such as Hong Kong, Montego Bay, and Bangalore, this chapter will expose politicians and city planners to innovative city design and promotion projects that have been proven to be effective in attracting and retaining export-oriented businesses.
Arguably, making strategic investments in ICTs is an effective arsenal for any city that wishes to look beyond its borders and offer its wares to the world. Improved ICT infrastructures will open up service industry markets in a manner similar to how free trade has opened markets for tangible goods. Improvements in ICT systems and infrastructure will enable municipal economies to compete on the world stage as barriers to exporting services are removed (Graham & Marvin, 2001, p. 352), and cities will need to correctly position themselves to capitalize on the opportunities presented by ICTs in a globalized world.
This chapter will serve to elaborate a methodology on how cities can identify city design barriers and remedy them with ICT investments to encourage the development of export-oriented business communities. Examples of projects in less developed country (or “LDC”) cities such as Montego Bay, Jamaica and Bangalore, India and developed economies, such as Hong Kong, will illustrate how ICT investments can bridge gaps and help cities to meet the needs of potential investors (Black, 2002, p. 267). Further, examples of how these cities have used Internet based promotional tools to market these industries will be given.