Tag Archives: Education

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.

Min 250 patents (or 50/year) between 2006-2010

  1. Detroit-Ann Arbor-Windsor, MI-ON  – 13,121
  2. Chicago-Naperville-Kenosha, IL-IN-WI – 12,526
  3. Twin Cities Region, MN-WI – 11,554
  4. Philadelphia-Trenton-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE – 10,345
  5. Rochester, NY – 5,227
  6. Cleveland-Akron-Canton, OH – 4,540
  7. Cincinnati-Hamilton-Wilmington, OH-KY-IN – 3,446
  8. Baltimore, MD – 2,950
  9. Pittsburgh, PA – 2,968
  10. Albany-Glens Falls, NY – 2,952
  11. St. Louis, MO-IL – 2,750
  12. Milwaukee-Racine, WI – 2,551
  13. Indianapolis-Anderson-Columbus, IN  – 2,423
  14. Worcester, MA – 2,037
  15. Providence-Fall River, RI-MA – 1,884
  16. Madison-Beaver Dam, WI  – 1,864
  17. Rochester, MN – 1,789
  18. Columbus-Newark-Lancaster, OH – 1,612
  19. Allentown-Bethlehem, PA-NJ – 1,404
  20. Grand Rapids-Holland-Muskegon, MI – 1,385
  21. Des Moines-Ames, IA  – 1,351
  22. Buffalo-Niagara Falls-St. Catharines, NY-ON – 1,268
  23. Lake Winnebego (Appleton-Oshkosh-Fond du Lac), WI – 1,187
  24. Dayton-Springfield, OH – 1,079
  25. Fort Wayne-Warsaw-Van Wert,  IN-OH – 894
  26. Cedar Rapids-Iowa City, IA – 881
  27. Peoria-Canton, IL – 872
  28. St. Joseph Valley (South Bend-Elkhart-Niles), IN-MI – 800
  29. Syracuse, NY – 796
  30. Lafayette-Kokomo, IN – 723
  31. Binghamton-Oneonta, NY-PA – 720
  32. Rock Valley, IL-WI – 671
  33. Harrisburg-Gettysburg, PA – 663
  34. Elmira-Corning-Sayre, NY-PA – 644
  35. Toledo- Findlay-Fremont, OH – 638
  36. Springfield, MA – 555
  37. Kalamazoo Valley, MI – 550
  38. Champaign-Urbana, IL – 523
  39. Lancaster, PA – 509
  40. Ithaca-Cortland, NY – 503
  41. Lansing-Jackson, MI – 490
  42. Saginaw Bay, MI – 448
  43. York, PA – 428
  44. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Poconos, PA  – 347
  45. Youngstown-Warren-Salem, OH-PA – 342
  46. Quad Cities, IA-IL – 309
  47. Erie, PA – 306
  48. Reading-Pottsville, PA – 301
  49. Evansville, IN-KY-IL – 293
  50. State College-Lewistown, PA – 258

– Rick Brown

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Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Education, Headline

'Smartest' US Cities Have a Rusty Tint

SOURCE: contentrules.com

According to a June 6, 2012 piece by Richard Florida published by The Atlantic Cities, a recent analysis by Lumosity shows that more than half of the 25 smartest cities in the United States are situated in the Rust Belt. In order to calculate the smartest metropolitan areas, the article indicates that the following research methodology was utilized:

“…scientists at Lumosity tracked the cognitive performance of more than one million users in the United States on their games, mapping them across U.S. metros using IP geolocation software. Individual scores were recorded in five key cognitive areas: memory, processing speed, flexibility, attention, and problem solving.The data was normalized into a basic brain performance index controlling for age and gender. Only metros with more than 500 observations were included. The data cover 169 metros.”

Based on the research, below is the list of America’s 25 brainiest metros, according to Lumosity’s metrics, with the city’s ranking in parentheses:

  • Lafayette, Indiana (2)
  • Madison, Wisconsin (4)
  • Cedar Rapids-Waterloo-Iowa City & Dubuque, Iowa (6)
  • Johnstown-Altoona, Pennsylvania (8)
  • Champaign & Springfield-Decatur, Illinois (9)
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota/Wisconsin (10)
  • Rochester, New York (13)
  • Lansing, Michigan (16)
  • Burlington-Plattsburgh, Vermont/New York (18)
  • Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (19)
  • Syracuse, New York (20)
  • La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wisconsin (23)
  • Harrisburg-Lancaster-Lebanon-York Pennsylvania (24)
  • Springfield-Holyoke, Massachusetts (25)

According to Daniel Sternberg, who developed the brain performance measure,

“The result is not driven principally by college students. “Since our analysis controlled for age, the reason they score well is not simply that they have a lot of young people,” said Sternberg. “Instead, our analysis seems to show that users living in university communities tend to perform better than users of the same age in other locations.”

An informative map (see below) prepared by the University of Toronto’s Martin Prosperity Institute depicts the results of the Lumosity study graphically. It clear shows concentrated strength throughout much of the Northeast, Great Lakes, and Midwest, with other areas scoring well along the Pacific Coast, Alaska and Hawaii, the I-35 corridor of Texas, and those larger metropolitan areas of the Rocky Mountain region.


The good news that could be derived from this report is that the “brain drain” may not be quite as bad as first thought. However, this represents a snapshot over one period of time. A more reliable long-term measure will be when this data is spread out further so trends can be observed.

The results also present an excellent marketing and public relations tool for many economic development agencies in the Rust Belt. Here’s is a weblink to one such press release from Greater Lansing’s LEAP (Lansing Economic Area Partnership).

Congratulations to all those cities who scored well in this report. As a graduate of Purdue University in Greater Lafayette, Indiana and a resident of Greater Lansing, Michigan, I was very pleased to see the data show what I already knew about these two terrific cities of the Rust Belt.

More details about the report and the story itself are available at Atlantic Cities.

Rick Brown

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Filed under Brain Drain, Economic Development, Education, Headline, Public Education, The Media, Urban Planning

Midwestern Universities Wooing Chinese Students


Source: lonelyplanet.com

Michigan State University in East Lansing has been a steady leader among public universities in the United States for sending its students abroad for a portion of their academic studies. On the flipside, the university along with seven other Big Ten universities has been the lucky recipients of a growing influx of international students, particularly undergraduates from China in the past five years. According to the Open Doors 2011 report from the Institute of International Education, of the 25 universities in the United States with the largest international student population, eight are from the Big Ten (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan. Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, and Wisconsin).

China has become the primary source of new international students since 2005, as the nation’s economy has boomed and its citizen’s wealth has grown. Part of the reason for this influx beyond increased wealth is due to the fact that only 18 percent of students are admitted to Chinese universities. The growth from China alone has been substantial enough to warrant Michigan State to open a satellite office in Beijing, China in 2008.

For Michigan State University, the rise in the international student population is fortuitous because it’s taking place at a time where the pool of potential Michigan resident students is starting to decline. As a result, the international students are filling a void and not squeezing out home state students. Below is a chart based on annual data from Michigan State’s Office for International Students and Scholars which shows the meteoric growth in the Chinese student population (undergraduate and graduate) at Michigan State. The greatest proportion of the growth in recent years has been in undergraduate students, rising from just 92 in 2006 to 2,217 in 2011.

Source: MSU Office for International Students & Scholars

In the communities around Michigan State’s campus, there has been a noticeable influx of new residents from China, many arriving with a great deal of disposable income. While the university requires all freshmen to live on campus, students are free to live where they choose after that first year. Based on cursory observations and reports from area property owners, the largest concentration of students from China appears to be occurring just to the northeast of campus along the Grand River Avenue (M-43) corridor. However, they are not alone, as a substantial number of relatively recent newcomers to the United States now reside in many parts of Greater Lansing from India and several other Asian nations.

Recognizing the growing and fairly concentrated Chinese student population, a number of commercial businesses along an approximate two-mile stretch of Grand River Avenue (M-43) now include Mandarin lettering in addition to English on their signs. Furthermore, some of the international students themselves are opening new businesses along this commercial corridor and in nearby areas. Automatic teller machines on campus and in the surrounding community now offer transactions in numerous languages (in some cases more than eight), including Mandarin. In an effort to reach out to the area’s growing Chinese community, Meridian Township, which borders the campus, recently appointed a Michigan State University student-local resident with family ties to China to a seat on the community’s Economic Development Corporation.

According to a report from the Association of International Educators, foreign students attending Michigan State University contributed nearly $185 million to the Greater Lansing economy in 2010, of which almost $90 million was spent on living expenses and dependents. Needless to say, spending like that gets noticed quickly.

Public school districts near Michigan State’s campus have also benefited from the growth in the international student population, as many of these students bring their spouses and/or children with them to the United States. Since Michigan’s funding formula for school districts is based on student head counts, any increase in class attendance is important to a school district’s bottom line.

This author can personally attest to the substantial benefits derived from a more diverse and inclusive community. It can be observed in new friendships, more cultural and religious offerings, dining  and recreational options, educational opportunities, travel options, architectural influences, and in the area’s enhanced entrepreneurial spirit. Freshman year at Michigan State, my son’s dormitory roommate was from South Korea. As a result, my son was afforded an amazing opportunity to befriend someone from the opposite side of the planet and learn more about his culture,while sharing the same about America.

Source: chicagochinatown.org

Will this student population boomlet from China continue into the foreseeable future? One would imagine so, barring any international disputes or incidents taking place that might sour relations. As a result, collegiate communities throughout the Rust Belt could and should be able to reap the cultural, societal, and economic benefits from Chinese and other international student population growth for some time to come. I cannot think of a better way to build friendships, improved understanding, and trust between the amazing array of societies and cultures on this planet.

— Rick Brown

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Filed under architecture, Art, Economic Development, Education, Featured, Public Education

Incentives and Jobs

Though we often hear that manufacturing in this country is “dead” or “dying,” this article from the Harrisburg (Pa) Patriot-News shows the lengths some states and counties still go to — offering millions in tax incentives — to land manufacturing jobs.

The author spoke to folks who said these kinds of incentives are needed to woo businesses, and others who said their time has past, that pitting one region against another means everybody loses.

What do you think?

Is this a game states, counties and cities have to play? Or should they opt out and focus resources on things like workforce training or education?


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Filed under Economic Development, regionalism, The Media