Tag Archives: Akron

Rust Belt Wunderkind Akron Develops Land Use and Transportation Plan

Akron is a smart city. I just want to get that out of the way.

I was just browsing Green City Blue Lake Today and I stumbled across this: Akron Maps Out Sustainable Land Use and Transportation. Writes GCBL’s Mark Lefkowitz:

Connecting Communities: A Guide to Integrating Land Use and Transportation is a good read on the Akron/Summit region’s development patterns with an eye toward “increasing transportation choices, improving connectivity and reducing environmental impact.”


The article continues that Akron will be inventorying parking, sidewalks, transit stops, bikeways and landuse to explore gaps in the transportation system. The goal is to create — get this — a vibrant urban environment.

Akron, hat tip to you: a progressive, smart Rust Belt city.

I am a little frustrated by this news. As a resident of the much larger, nearby Cleveland metro region, our regional planning agency NOACA still treats land use like a dirty word, even as sprawl decimates the central city and impoverishes the region.

Let’s make this interesting, shall we? Make lemonade out of regional planning lemons, so to say.

I am taking bets on how long it will take Cleveland to catch up to Akron. 10 years? 15?

Does anyone have an insight? Just curious.



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Filed under Public Transportation, sprawl

The New, Suburban, Face of Poverty

Between 2000 and 2008, large metropolitan areas saw their suburban poverty rates grow at twice the rate of inner cities, according to a new report by the Brookings Institution.

For example, in 2008, 23 percent more people were living in poverty outside the city of Cleveland’s borders than inside it. That’s a 44 percent jump since 2000, for a total of 9 percent of the suburban population. Meanwhile the number of poor in the city of Cleveland decreased, WCPN Ideastream reports.

Similar trends were reported in Akron and Youngstown.

Also of note:

-Social service providers are ill equipped to serve the decentralized population of the new suburban poor.

-Sun Belt cities like Miami, Phoenix and Los Angeles, hard hit by the housing crisis, have seen significant increases in poverty over the last two years.



Filed under Featured, sprawl, The Housing Crisis, Urban Poverty

Tapping the Economic Potential of African American Men

Are African American males our greatest untapped resource?

The answer is yes, according to a study by Policy Bridge, Cleveland-based, minority-focused think tank.


“No single resource in Northeast Ohio is as underutilized as African-American males,” reports the agency in its study, Untapped Potential, African-American Males in Northeast Ohio.

• In Cleveland, roughly 65 percent of all males living in poverty are

• Roughly a third of African-American men in Northeast Ohio cities never completed high school.

• African-American men are unemployed at twice the rate of the total male
population in nearly every Northeast Ohio county and remain so for
longer periods.

“The loss of African-American male potential is, in fact, a loss of income
that is crippling the regional and state economies,” study authors report.

I never thought of the situation this way, but this is a very interesting argument.

Do the math. In 2003, workers who did not complete high school earned less than $21,000 a year on average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Are high drop-out rates and discriminatory hiring practices ensuring a future of poverty in Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown?

What about Detroit? Gary? St. Louis?

What can be done to reverse course?

Policy Bridge has these recommendations:

“By investing in better educating, fully employing, and fairly compensating the African-American male population, the area is investing in its own well-being. The return on investment will come in the form of increased consumer buying power, increased income and property taxes, increased civic engagement, and renewed economic growth.

“Before this reward can be realized, however, the community must undergo a
change in viewpoint: The African-American male population must no longer be seen as a potential drain on community resources, but as an untapped well of economic potential and a key ingredient to Northeast Ohio’s economic recovery.”



Filed under Education, Featured, Race Relations

Rust Belt Road Trip: Photographer David Zaitz


Los Angeles-based photographer David Zaitz took a six day road trip through the Rust Belt in July 2009.  Zaitz drove over 1,900 miles in seven days, visiting legendary Rust Belt cities such as Gary, South Bend, Elkhardt, Youngstown, Wheeling, Canton, Akron, Detroit and Flint.


Zaitz will be posting additional images and commentary from his trip in the coming weeks.

Intermission in Toledo, Ohio

Intermission in Toledo, Ohio

A selection of his photographic essay can be seen here.



Filed under Art, The Big Urban Photography Project

Akron Mayor Under Fire

    Akron’s long-time mayor Don Plusquellic, a pioneer in regional economic development who has been credited with helping double the size of the downtown workforce, is facing a recall.

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic

Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic

    Former Akron City Councilman Warner Mendenhall, a political rival of the mayor, has gathered the 3,179 signatures needed to hold a special election this summer to recall Plusquellic, The Plain Dealer reports.

    The special election will cost Akron taxpayers $175,000. Worse, The Plain Dealer reports that the special election favors Plusquellic opponents and few people in Akron are even aware of the recall effort.

    Plusquellic has the endorsement of state senator Tom Sawyer, the Pretender’s Chrissie Hynde (an Akron native) and the county Democratic Party.

    Mendenhall, meanwhile, is not eligible to run for mayor because he owes the federal government $169,000.

    In a second story titled “At Center of Plusquellic Recall, No Burning Issue” The PD reports that the anti-Plusquellic group’s complaints are relatively mundane. Mendenhall says the mayor has not paid enough attention to city services.

    “There’s a principle that, if you are a strong leader, every day you are making difficult decisions that make people upset,” said Stephen Brooks, assistant director of the University of Akron’s Bliss Institute of Applied Politics. “The longer you are in office, the likelihood is the more people you will make upset. . . . After a time, you can collect enough of those folks.”

    Robert Stein, an urban-politics scholar at Rice University said, “It’s much easier to defeat an incumbent in a recall than to elect an opponent.”

    Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner was subject to similar recall effort this year that was backed by a group of suburban businessmen. The recall effort, named “Take Back Toledo,” would oust the mayor three months before his term ends.

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Filed under Featured, Politics

Welcome To Rust Wire

This site is intended to consolidate and develop news and information about post-industrial Great Lakes cities. It was developed by two former newspaper reporters with ties to Cleveland, Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio and Erie and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We’ve noted that there is a lot of good information about Rust Belt issues coming from blogs and the mainstream media. We hope to sort out the good stuff and summarize it for problem solvers and concerned citizens from Buffalo to St. Louis.

We also intend to develop some original stories and photography. Any writers, videographers or photographers that are willing to contribute please contact us at rustbeltnews@gmail.com. Also, if there’s any thing we’ve overlooked, or any exciting initiatives that might be worth featuring, please let us know.



Angie Schmitt & Kate Giammarise

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