Rather than some comic-book version of a sleepy old south, the South’s dynamic metropolitan regions — not surprisingly, among the nation’s fastest growing — represent the real future of the region. They are becoming more diverse in every way. Houston and Dallas are already immigrant hotbeds; Nashville. Charlotte, Atlanta, Raleigh and Orlando all have among the nation’s fastest-growing foreign populations.

Growth in the South, as elsewhere, is concentrated in their suburban rings but there’s also been something of central city revivals in Houston, Raleigh, Atlanta and Charlotte. Increasingly these places boast the amenities to compete with the bastions of hipness in everything from medicine and banking to technology and movies. The new owners of the New York Stock Exchange are based in Atlanta and some financial professionals are moving to low-tax states such as Florida.

For its part New Orleans, where I am working as a consultant , is challenging New York and Los Angeles in the film and video effects industry. Houston boasts the country’s largest medical center. Raleigh, Austin, Houston and San Antonio rank as the largest gainers of STEM jobs over the past decade.

Over time, numbers like these will have consequences politically, as well as culturally and economically.