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Who Wants To Fund/Run Your Own City?

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Are you sick of the "rules" governing the place in which you currently live? Do you want to start a new land "free of old laws and practices," where you kind of get to be like a King and say what's what? You're in luck.

As you may have heard, economist Paul Romer has been looking for a country that will let him start a "charter city," like "William Penn did in Pennsylvania" and apparently Honduras is into it!

About a decade ago, Romer walked away from academia, started an online teaching company, sold it and then turned to his next big idea: To create jobs to lift millions out of poverty, take an uninhabited 1,000 square-kilometer tract (386 square miles), about the size of Hong Kong, preferably government-owned. Write a charter: the all-important rules. Allow anyone to move in or out. Invite foreign investors to build infrastructure for profit. And sign a treaty with a well-governed country, say Norway or Canada, to serve as "guarantor" to assure investors and residents that the charter will be respected, much as the British once did for Hong Kong, and—with some oversight from the Honduran Congress—govern the city.

Two weeks ago, with only one "no," its Congress voted to amend the constitution to allow for a ciudad modelo. "This is a country in which most people want to pursue the American Dream," says Octavio Sanchez Barrientos, chief of staff to Honduran President Porfirio Lobo. "And they have to leave the country and move to the U.S. This offers the possibility that, in the long run, they'll have that opportunity here."

All Romer needs is some deeply-pocketed people to pony up the dough. Supposedly "several major international investors have already expressed interest in the project" (Jorge Soros?) but no one's signed on any dotted lines. Get in while you still can.

The Quest For A Charter City [WSJ]
Charter Cities: A New Honduras [CC]


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