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Tracking Dollars Spent, New Map Shows a Divided Pennsylvania

Brockmann effective boundries
Brockmann effective boundries

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Pennsylvania is as diverse a state as you'll find, with large metropolises flanked by mid-sized cities and rural small towns, all home to populations that are getting younger and more international. 

But when it comes to tracking how we spend our money, the actual geographic flow of Pennsylvania's dollars splits the commonwealth right down the middle. Theoretical physicist Dirk Brockmann used data that tracked how our dollar bills travel and utilized network theory to replace state boundary lines with lines drawn to reflect where dollar bills are less likely to cross. The resulting map, published in a recent Fast Company story, shows that often those re-drawn lines mimic state borders, but many do not.
 
According to the Fast Company piece, the map illustrates how "effective communities" are not bound by official state lines. Missouri was the only other state divided into East and West, and given Pittsburgh and Western Pa.'s Rust Belt heritage and Philadelphia's connectivity with other major East Coast cities like New York and Washington D.C., the split down the middle in Pennsylvania makes a lot of sense. 

But it does make one wonder if these re-drawn boundaries somehow can help lead to greater efficiencies when it comes to planning and implementing strategies for economic success. For example, the Power of 32 initiative in Western Pa. coralled 32 counties from four states to focus on one vision -- to improve the region's economy, environment, education and community.

In what ways can we use the flow of dollars spent to create efficiencies or opportunities across the state?

JOE PETRUCCI is managing editor of Keystone Edge. Send feedback here.
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