National League of Cities & Internet Association Release Report on the Impact of Internet Sector on Cities, Future Innovation

February 6, 2018 - (3 min read)

WASHINGTON — Today, the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Internet Association (IA) released new research detailing the size and impact of the internet sector on cities throughout the U.S. The report also identifies opportunities and best practices for cities to better foster the internet economy citing four specific cities that punch above their weight: Columbus, Ohio; Kansas City, Missouri; Phoenix, Arizona; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

“City leaders know just how critical advances in technology are to the future of our cities,” said Clarence E. Anthony, CEO and executive director of the National League of Cities (NLC). “The internet is the foundation of these advances and this report shows the measurable impact that it has on local businesses, job opportunities and daily life in cities.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • The internet sector contributes an average 3.3 percent of total jobs and total number of businesses in America’s urban areas.
  • Cities with stronger internet economies are more likely to have lower unemployment and poverty levels.
  • An urban area’s median income level and GDP per capita correspond to the strength of its internet sector.

“Every single community in America benefits from the internet, and its importance to Americans in all cities will only continue to grow,” said IA President & CEO Michael Beckerman. “Smart policymaking at all levels of government — especially from cities — is essential to ensure the internet economy continues to grow and succeed in the 21st century.”

The report also offers advice for city leaders on how to develop their internet sector:

  • Design Smart Cities: Incorporate technologies into city infrastructure that increase efficiency and equitability in urban environments.
  • Support Open Data Systems: Cities that prioritize open data systems provide win-win opportunities for local businesses and government, both of which can leverage new insights to improve products and services for residents.
  • Facilitate Pilot Projects: Create procurement systems that encourage pilot projects to allow for more rapid development of innovative city services while minimizing risk from larger-scale implementations.
  • Invest in Public-Private Partnerships: Partnership programs allow governments to draw on the technical expertise of the private sector to find solutions that help their citizens.

“We have seen an incredible rise in the permeation of technology in cities over the past decade,” said Brooks Rainwater, senior executive and director of the Center for City Solutions at the National League of Cities (NLC). “We are thrilled to release this important research together with the Internet Association. It serves as a marker for where we are today, and offers insights on where cities will go next.”

“Our research offers a roadmap for city leaders to spark new innovation and jobs in the fastest-growing sector in the company,” said Internet Association Chief Economist Dr. Christopher Hooton. “These case studies across the country show that cities can leverage the internet economy to promote economic inclusion and build well-rounded labor markets.”

The New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles metro areas have the three largest internet sectors in the U.S. The average city has 600 internet businesses and 9,000 internet sector jobs.

To read the full report, click here.



The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.