What is a market city?

08 Oct 2020

A market city should have seven key features…

It should recognize its wide variety of public markets operating as one market system; have diverse partners and stakeholders to take action together; measure value and understand how markets function; have regional distribution networks; regularly invest in its markets; help diverse types of vendors start and grow their businesses, and recognize that its markets are inclusive public spaces. These are the seven key characteristics of municipalities that operate highly-functioning public market systems. That’s what makes a Market City.

And yet, cartographers would have difficulty identifying towns like this on the map.

Few cities have yet to embrace markets as strategic institutions. Moreover, from mega-cities to small towns, few municipal decision makers can even identify the markets that flourish within their own city limits. For most markets, they operate almost outside of the norms of mainstream business development, public health or civic planning. And yet, they offer many clues to (and help shape) a region’s health and capacity for social cohesion.

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Wet markets, street peddlers and bazars (sic) are essential for most family’s daily shopping needs in Dhaka, Bangladesh (a city of 21 million). The COVID-19 lockdown provided an unprecedented pause to recalculate how these institutions may be reconfigured physically and strategically with local and national government priorities.

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