Monday, December 17, 2007

"Yo, Cleveburgh!" . . . listen up.

The rust belt region's blogosphere has been heating up with a discussion about how the region's cities - Erie, Buffalo, Youngstown, Pittsburgh and Cleveland - can come together to promote the region and grow economically.

Probably the best blog covering this drive (and one you should bookmark and read often) is Burgh Diaspora. Check out one of Burgh Diaspora's most recent posts, titled Benchmarking the Real Pittsburgh.
"Former U.S. Treasury Secretary and retired Alcoa CEO Paul O'Neill and former Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editor John G. Craig Jr., among the founders of the Pittsburgh Regional Indicators Consortium, will give a detailed presentation on the need for area business and government decision-makers to better understand the dynamics of an expansively defined metropolitan Pittsburgh.

The PRI's Web site ( features detailed and continuously updated decision-support statistics on nine key components -- called "indicators" -- of the region's life: Arts, Demographics, Economy, Education, Environment, Government, Health, Safety and Transportation.

The group defines the metropolitan Pittsburgh region as the twenty-two counties surrounding the city, including those in West Virginia and Ohio."
Under this new initiative, here is how the Pittsburgh region will be defined and monitored:

The area in green runs to less than a mile from the city limits of Youngstown.

Not the Youngstown exurbs, the Youngstown city limits.

Lawrence County is a hop (not even a skip and a jump) away, and many would consider this county as both a part of the Youngstown region and the Pittsburgh region.

This is further proof of the region's continuing integration. People commute from Youngstown to Twinsburg . . . people commute from Youngstown to Akron . . . people commute from Youngstown to Cranberry Township.

So as Ed Morrison asked recently in BFD for us to compare how we are measuring ourselves, should the Cleveland, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh regions all be collecting the same data?

Should the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber be replicating the exact model that Pittsburgh is now instituting?

Guided by the style and ease of the PRI website, maybe tracking the Arts, Demographics, Economy, Education, Environment, Government, Health, Safety and Transportation as a mega-region can be a component of the Ryan/Altmire Tech Belt initiative?

Again, from the RPI's website:
"This project’s goal is to spark a more informed civic dialog. By providing a timely and accurate statistical picture of regional life, we hope to stimulate a discussion of where we are and where we hope to go.

This project is closely coordinated with the Key National Indicators Initiative, centered at the National Academies in Washington, D.C. That initiative was begun as one response to a 2004 General Accounting Office (GAO) report recommending the establishment of a national indicator system as a way to help people and organizations answer vital questions about their communities, as well as to give all the people a report card on the nature of life in the United States."
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The Burgh Diaspora blog has even been picked up by Richard Florida's blog recently, for its discussion on a geographically targeted high-skill immigration policy for revitalizing our rustbelt cities.

I'm still eager to see what develops from the first Tech Belt meeting held at Youngstown State University in October.

In the meantime, my new tag for Youngstown, Cleveland Pittburgh posts on regionalism will be:

"Yo, Cleveburgh!"


Debra Weaver said...

Once again your blog has provided a great deal of food for thought! THANKS!

Jim Russell said...

I should clarify the suggested immigration policy. What I'm advocating is an increase in the number of H1-B visas granted. The visas above and beyond the current quota would be tied to Rust Belt cities.

So, if Google wants to bring to the United States more overseas talent than currently allowed, they would have to do so in a Rust Belt city (e.g. Youngstown).

H-1B visas are tied to employers, who already restrict the geographic options for these immigrants (a key point that Dr. Florida completely overlooks). The policy I'm advocating would encourage employers to locate jobs in the Rust Belt, not force immigrants to move to Pittsburgh or other Rust Belt cities.