Over the last decade, numerous studies have emerged that attempt to articulate the links between economic development, social inclusion and democratic politics at the level of the city‐region. One very significant set of articles comprised the Debate on City‐Regions in this journal in 2007, propounding the arguments for an interpretation of the politics of city‐regions as necessarily involving tensions between economic development and social inclusion, and requiring empirical investigation to determine the precise patterns of interrelations between wealth creation, social reproduction, democratization and citizenship. This article addresses these issues in the context of a study of the city‐region of Ottawa, Canada. It examines the public policies put in place to promote the regional economy and build the structure of the city‐region, the role of actors in building institutional infrastructure to support the regional economy and address social exclusions, and also the development of associative modes of governance at different scales within the city‐region. The article ascertains how the politics of the Ottawa city‐region succeed, or do not succeed, in bringing together economic development and social inclusion.