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[29 Oct 2013 | No Comment | ]
Ten Lessons from Boulder, Colorado

 
I had the great pleasure of visiting Boulder, Colorado for the first time over an extended weekend. As an urban planner, I was able to take away many useful lessons for Rust Belt communities from the lovely city abutting the Front Range. Granted, not every place can be set aside majestic mountains, but every community does have unique attributes.
Here are what I would quantify as the top ten. Many of these are remarkably similar to the ten lessons from European industrial cities published earlier this month.

Cherish, protect, enhance, and enjoy …

Art, Brain Drain, Featured, Great Lakes »

[25 Jul 2013 | No Comment | ]
A Detroit Band with Staying Power

If you have’nt heard of Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers (JH+TRS), don’t worry, because you definitely will. Like a breezy breath of cool, fresh air blowing off of our lovely blue waters, this band brings to life a captivating musical style and awesome songwriting both on the stage and in its recordings. Their shows are filled with superb music and musicianship, tons of rollicking good fun, an eye-popping blizzard of floral/Hawaiian patterns, hilarious/zany eyewear, colorful balloons, and bouncing beach balls. It’s obvious that JH+TRS are having a great time …

Book Review, Brain Drain, Economic Development, Featured, Great Lakes, Headline, Labor, Politics, Race Relations, The Environment, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning, Urban Poverty »

[3 Jun 2013 | No Comment | ]
A literary triumph – “Nothing But Blue Skies” by Edward McClelland

It is difficult to describe how truly outstanding the book entitled Nothing But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America’s Industrial Heartland is to read. As a nearly lifelong Rust Belt resident, I can attest to the fact that Edward McClelland’s newly released book simply nails our industrial heritage, decline, and hopeful potential squarely on the head. From nationally known politicians like Dennis Kucinich or Coleman Young to the everyday blue-collar laborer toiling in our mills and factories, Mr. McClelland personifies the Rust Belt like no other book I have ever read on the subject. As a Lansing native, he has personally witnessed the dramatic (and sometimes catastrophic) changes just in his lifetime. In Nothing But Blue Skies, Mr. McClelland takes the reader on a quasi-chronological step-by-step sequence of events that shook the Rust Belt down it its very core.

Brain Drain, Economic Development, Editorial, Great Lakes, Headline, Politics, Real Estate, The Environment, U.S. Auto Industry, Urban Planning »

[24 Apr 2013 | No Comment | ]
Economic development soul-searching

The title of this post may be a bit controversial, but can also be sadly true. Far too often, it seems a blind eye is turned toward the sins of the past just to generate new economic investment. A perfect example is portrayed in the past week’s (April 17th edition) of City Pulse by an article entitled “A Tax Break Won’t Change This.” While tax breaks are being offered to GM for additional investment in Greater Lansing, a ginormous vacant parking lot blights the near south side of the city, not to mention additional deteriorated sites along Saginaw Highway on the west side of town.

Brain Drain, Education, Green Jobs, The Environment, Urban Planning »

[1 Mar 2013 | No Comment | ]

 
 
 
 
 
 
Published annually by Fourth Economy Consulting of Pittsburgh, the Fourth Economy Index identifies those counties that are “ideally positioned to attract modern investment and managed economic growth.” The index is broken down into micro (<25,000 population) small (25,000-49,999), mid-sized (50,000-149,999), and large (150,000-499,999) counties based on population.  The following five metrics are utilized as foundations for determining future economic success:
·         Investment
·         Talent
·         Sustainability
·         Place
·         Diversity
 
 
 
 
 
Below is a list of the Top 10 large counties as determined by the Fourth Economy Index – six of which are Rust Belt counties (shown …

Brain Drain, Crime, Featured »

[28 Jan 2013 | No Comment | ]
Returning to a More Hopeful Buffalo

After nearly three years in San Francisco, I threw in the towel and came home to Buffalo. I wasn’t proud of my decision to boomerang back to my parents’ house, but I had quit my job at an unnecessarily stressful and ineffective nonprofit to return to graduate school and travel, and had the better part of a year before school would start. Staying in my studio apartment was out of the question. Even if I were to start freelancing right away, it was costing me $1,400 a month, and I just couldn’t afford it.

Then there was the added fact that despite really liking the new friends I’d made, the many beautiful sights of San Francisco, and the cache of being in one of the coolest cities in the country, I was claustrophobic. City living just wasn’t working for me, and I longed for my parents’ forty acres north of Buffalo. Of course, I knew I was romanticizing the place, but that didn’t change the fact that I just wasn’t happy where I was.

Brain Drain, Economic Development, Featured »

[10 Dec 2012 | One Comment | ]
Cities: Rather Than Patronizing Young People, Give Them What They Ask For

Nothing makes me roll my eyes like a civic campaign aimed at attracting young people.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a worthy cause. It’s just that 90 percent of the time, the way they are executed ranges from cluelessly patronizing to counter productive to outright embarrassing.

In one example that really sticks in my mind the guilty party was Columbus, Ohio. Perhaps eight years ago the city got some kind of grant and they spent $30,000 to have some self-styled “Gen Y” expert come tell them how they could retain and attract young people. All I could think was why didn’t they just — I don’t know — ask they young people that live there what they want and maybe put the $30,000 toward that?

Brain Drain »

[14 Nov 2012 | One Comment | ]

The day I left, I stood at the door of my now- empty refrigerator and cried. “I don’t want to do this”. I said, out loud.
I felt as if I were breaking up with a beautiful, doomed, lovable f- up of a man, one who would serve as a benchmark for both the highest and lowest emotional keynotes in one’s life from that point forward.
I came to be with my brother, who had come to be with my sister, who had come for school—one of the …

Architecture, Art, Brain Drain, Economic Development, Featured »

[6 Nov 2012 | No Comment | ]
2012 Economic Study has Good News for Rust Belt Metros

According to the report “100 Leading Locations for 2012” by Area Development Online, 34 metropolitan areas of the Rust Belt made the Top 100, including the pre-eminent architectural showplace of Columbus, Indiana which was ranked number one.
Below is a list of those Rust Belt metropolitan areas that made the Top 100 in 2012. Congratulations to each of them, especially Columbus, Indiana.
1. Columbus, Indiana
9. Morgantown, West Virginia
12. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
16. Dubuque, Iowa
17. State College, Pennsylvania
20. Trenton-Ewing, New Jersey
24. Holland-Grand Haven, Michigan
29. Waterloo-Cedar Falls, Iowa
30. Ames, Iowa
33. Baltimore, Maryland
34. Williamsport, Pennsylvania
37. Sandusky, Ohio
38. Ann Arbor, …

Brain Drain, Economic Development, Education, Headline »

[26 Jul 2012 | No Comment | ]
Innovation Clusters of the Rust Belt

With the recently celebrated opening of the nation’s first satellite office of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in Detroit, I thought it might be fun to explore which metropolitan regions in the Rust Best are hotspots for new innovation as measured by the number of patents issued. The data provided is cumulative for the five year period of 2006 through 2010.

For Detroit and Buffalo, I also included patent data for adjacent areas in Ontario since they are a part of the metropolitan region. Needless to say, I was rather thrilled to find out which of the metropolitan regions came in first place (even without Windsor’s 376 American patents included). Buffalo’s ranking moved up two spots on the list either with the inclusion of 189 American patents from Niagara Falls and St. Catharines, Ontario.