“Cleveland won’t be reborn until it buries its dead,” a Cleveland Magazine article explains, and the ghosts haunting Cleveland are some 8,000 vacant and abandoned homes.
Photo by Billy Delfs via Cleveland Magazine.
They draw drug dealers and prostitutes while dragging down surrounding homes’ values. Mayor Frank Jackson has stepped up efforts to bring the problem under control in recent years. But annual foreclosure rates hovering around 14,000, means the city is aiming at a moving target.
“There’s a lot more supply than there is demand,” says Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis. “If there was huge demand for this housing, people would be moving into it.”
Why not Detroit? Or Cleveland? Or a more compact, less-sprawled out city like Pittsburgh?
This Reuters story says Houston, the “petro metro” is aiming to be the electric car capital of America.
Stories like this make me so mad.
A city in the Great Lakes region would be much better suited to this, yet some folks in Houston are showing more leadership on this issue. For instance, Houston has signed a deal to build public charging stations. “Such agreements are key to easing skeptical consumers’ fears of running out of juice if their car batteries run low before they can reach their garage charging stations,” the story explains.
Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institutional have released their long-awaited report, Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities for the Next Economy.
Among the findings, Ohio should consolidate local governments and school districts to reduce the local tax burden. The state should redirect manufacturing strength toward new technologies and maximize federal investment.
To compete, Ohio will need to reinvest in its metropolitan regions, which account for 81 percent of the state’s population and 87 percent of its GDP, the report states.
“Ohio’s seven largest metro areas concentrate slightly more than 75 percent of the state’s patenting activity, and 82 percent of the state’s knowledge jobs.”
“Ohio’s metros in the nation’s top 100 contain 81 percent of the state’s adults aged 25 or older with at least a bachelor’s degree.”
The report also calls for reinvestment in the state’s taxpayer financed Third Frontier Program, which is designed to incubate high-tech companies. Report authors recommend eliminating a third of the state’s school districts, as well.
Good Magazine is reporting that four Detroit High Schools will begin training students to work at Wal-Mart.
Students will receive 10 credits for 11 weeks of job readiness preparation with the retail giant.
Advocates say it’s a good opportunity for students, given the city’s staggering unemployment rate.
Advocates for the poor say the students are being trained for dead-end jobs and lives of subserviance.
The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the Obama administration has earmarked $400 million for Ohio’s plan to link Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Cleveland via high-speed rail.
From The Dispatch:
Ohio officials are banking on federal stimulus money for most or all of the estimated $517.6 million they say they need to improve existing freight rail to passenger standards and to buy trains.
“This is some of the best news we have had in a long time,” Senator Sherrod Brown said. “If I put my ear down to the rail I think I hear a train coming.”
This is good news for people who are from Columbus but live in Cleveland (like me!) and their families. Hooray!
The Associated Press has conducted an inventory of the 128 auto plants closed by the Big Three since 1980 and the results are discouraging.
Only about three in five has been repurposed for a new use. Those that have been reopened are employing far few workers at lower wages.
“The cost is going to be borne by the next generation,” said James Rubenstein, a professor at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, who has studied U.S. auto plant closings and openings. “It’s the children and grandchildren of the laid-off workers. They won’t have the opportunities in those communities.”
The problem is made worse by a slumping commercial real estate market and environmental hazards common at manufacturing sites.
We’ve all heard and read plenty about how Rust Belt cities can use their vacant lands as space for urban farms and community gardens.
This article from the Los Angeles Times says some folks believe they could even make a profitable investment. Michigan native and financier John Hantz has invested an initial $30 million of his own money toward purchasing equipment and land in Detroit, according to the article.