Wednesday, August 27, 2008

grow home, youngstown

As the debate continues on the most successful policies to pursue entrepreneurs and human capital with ties to a geographic location, it seems a new initiative is afoot in Youngstown:

Grow Home

I stumbled upon the campaign over a weekend in the (nicely done, full-color, 60 page) YSU Magazine for the taking at Winslow's Cafe in the Butler Art Institute.

from the article:
"The Grow Home campaign is an effort to encourage successful YSU alumni to invest in their home community," said Rep. Ryan. "I can't tell you how often I run into people from Youngstown, now living in Miami, or Chicago, or Cleveland, who stop me and say, 'Yeah, I may live here, but Youngstown will always be my home.' This is an opportunity for those people to play an active role in our future economic success . . ."

A cooperative effort between Youngstown State University, U.S. Representative Ryan, and the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber, the Grow Home initiative intends to link entrepreneurs with information about technical assistance and grant opportunities, available commercial and industrial properties, state and local tax credit and capacity-building programs, low-interest project financing, as well as providing tours and access to consulting support.

Without spilling the beans on everything, go here to read more information about the Grow Home initiative.

But the central message is clear:

you may have left the Mahoning Valley to pursue your career or education (and we hope you found success and happiness), but opportunities exist today in the Youngstown region for additional success - and people here will listen to your ideas and support you.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

ongoing walmart debate illustrates zero-sum economic development

The staff at this blog is staying out of rendering an opinion on the latest city vs. township/suburb rumbling for the time being.

So while you can read more about this flip-flap in today's Youngstown Vindicator here, one line in particular got us here thinking about the varying definitions of what exactly economic development is in the first place:
“Wal-Mart could have actually hired more than 25 percent from the city, but by doing this and stopping this project, no one in Mahoning or Trumbull County will see any additional jobs,” Stoyak said. “We are starving for jobs in this area, and this project is being held up by the mayor. Unfortunately, I don’t think Mayor Williams realizes that Wal-Mart is not going to play games with him.”
aside from the ongoing verbal sparring and rhetoric...

Linking the construction of a Wal-Mart to regional (I guess Mahoning + Trumbull counties in this case) job growth is probably incorrect unless:

a) people from outside of Mahoning and Trumbull counties shop for Wal-Mart goods inside Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

b) people from inside of Mahoning or Trumbull counties who normally shop outside of their home counties now shop locally.

While either of these two options most probably fall under the "not bloody likely" category, this reminds me of some wise words on the subject of regional economic development from Ed Morrison:
Economic development involves three types of money.

"Good money" comes from businesses that trade outside your region. They generate wealth. (Michael Porter's work at Harvard suggests that wages for these traded businesses are about one-third higher than "sheltered" businesses.)

"Neutral money" comes from businesses that circulate revenues within an economy. You buy haircuts from me, and I buy lawn care from you.

"Bad money" comes from business transactions that export wealth from an economy. Many people think that Wal-Mart falls into this category. Except in relatively rare cases, casinos fall into this category as well.

Unless someone can help me understand this issue better, how does building a Wal-Mart push regional job growth as was claimed in the article?

How does a project like this help the entire region, as opposed to a single political entity, regardless of who exactly the immediate winners and losers within the region are?

Friday, August 15, 2008

beyond the valley

so my friend got one of these wonderful gadgets that allows you to surf thousands of radio channels from across the world.

here is a quick video of a recent search for ohio content.

Oddly, even though there were 173 stations for Poland, only 10 instantly appeared for the Buckeye State.

so switching from a favorite station from KoŇ°ice (featured in today's nytimes), this was found:

our signal stretches out far beyond the Mahoning Valley.

(a point driven home, given yesterday's article about Youngstown and its revitalization efforts in the Australian Financial Review found here)

speaking of beyond the valley . . .

incense and peppermints.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

the davis is almost done

Just a quick update on the renovation of the 2nd oldest building downtown.

You can follow the entire history of the Davis Building project by clicking on the "davis building" tag, or here.

here's looking down the hall from the architectural offices towards Dutton's Alley:

then into a consulting room:

looking out into the atrium:

here's a movie sweeping around the entrance to the architectural studios:

the bookshelves are being filled with awards and

many, many magazines and documents . . .

the stations for each architect:

taking the steps from floor to floor:

the texture of the bricks to the ceiling:

the nicest bathroom in the tri-county area:

and a whirl around to see the projector tv:


damn smooth.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

lebanese food back downtown at cedars

just got the word the Cafe component of Cedars (and their wonderful garden with wi-fi) is now open downtown.

Check out their revamped menu with Lebanese specialities here.

If you want a quick lunch or a dinner before a show, check em out. They really improved the interior/feel of the place.

I had the baked Kibbi B'zait (ground lamb with spices and pine nuts) last weekend, along with a spinach and feta pie served with some killer labne.

Next trip: the toasted pear, brie, and honey panini.

As I sat in the sun reading my book, St. Columba's Cathedral chimed in the distance - bit by bit - and the afternoon melted away.

one more step forward for the downtown . . .

Cedars Cafe hours:
Monday to Thursday, 11am to 9pm
Friday, 11am to 10pm
Saturday, 12pm to 10pm
closed Sundays

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Friday, August 08, 2008

mama mia! 40,000 downtown during fest


according to people affiliated with the Greater Youngstown Italian Fest, almost 40,000 visited downtown during the three-day festival.

stretching throughout downtown youngstown - the neighborhood the whole city shares - were people of all races enjoying the rides, the music, the food and the fellowship.

I mean, this place was really jumping. The biggest outdoor gathering in the downtown in a long, long time.

Three days of no rain and comfortable evenings helped push attendance I'm sure, but events like these makes one say:

"we're back, baby"

but while you're here to see the photos of the espresso and biscotti tent,

as well as the bands' uniforms,

the adoration of the blessed virgin,

and sculpture amid skyscrapers . . .

. . . here is a question to leave you with:

one of the discussions overheard during the weekend included if the festivals like this one should stay downtown, or move a few streets over to the Chevy Centre were there may be more space, less having to close streets, and not the immediate need to set up and take down right away.

What do you think about this?

Should these festivals stay downtown, even with the benefits of moving them to another spot? Why?

Leave a comment please . . .

after you watch this video (which at the end shows proof of the rehabilitation of the Realty Building into downtown housing)

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

vindicator and wfmj perpetuate errors by incorrectly assessing forbes article

and again, the cycle repeats itself.

national magazine produces "list" with no reference to research methodology;

which leads to some in local media to go nuts about the "list";

which leads to calls for responses from local leaders;

which leads to spreading of "list";

which leads to increased advertising revenues for creator of "list";

which leads to uptight blogger reacting to story;

which leads readers to think blogger sees his native city through sugar-coated, rose-colored lenses as problem-free shangri-la;

and repeat.

- - -

sure, there are good days and bad days in the reporting world.

Some days, you are the hero, bringing needed and accurate information to the public sphere.

Other days, the media gets beat up - sometimes unfairly - and spite is directed towards the messenger and not the message.

But sometimes, a reporter needs to step up his or her efforts when passing on a story.

- - -

Case in point: the local media reaction from a recent article in Forbes magazine (vindy story here, wfmj video here) with some top 10 list about fastest-dying cities. [this cycle is also being played in the Dayton and Cleveland local media as well]

According to the Vindicator piece:
"The article did not rank the cities in any particular order but did reference information collected by the U.S. Census Bureau for each city, including migration since 2000, total population change, unemployment rate for June 2008 and annualized gross domestic product growth."
This sentence from the reporter is both incorrect and misleading.

In all four metrics utilized in this sentence, the values refer not to the city of Youngstown, but to the region as a whole, specifically the Youngstown-Warren-Boardman Metropolitan Statistical Area, as defined by all of Mahoning and Trumbull counties on Ohio and Mercer county in Pennsylvania.

The Forbes article even uses the term "metropolitan statistical area" in its photo album of the top 10 list.

So instead of leading with the line "The city is among the top 10 fastest-dying cities in the U.S.", the story should more accurately read:

"The region is among the top 10 fastest-dying regions in the U.S."

that's right, dammit. If this ship is going down, we're taking everyone else down with us. (listen closely for evil laughter)

as if this blog entry couldn't make even more mountains out of molehills, here is some data to leave you with, the actual percent change in gross domestic product from 2001 to 2005 for selected regions from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis.

chained dollars indexed by inflation, ranked by percent change
(note: values below may change slighty as BLS continuously corrects data)

percent increase 2001-2005 GDP2005 GDP (in billions)metro area labeled by central city
12.6%$23.3 BAkron, OH
10.3%$3.7 BMansfield, OH
8.5%$82.4 BCincinnati, OH
8.4%$973.5 BNew York City, NY
7.8%$75.4 BColumbus, OH
7.1%$89.9 BCleveland, OH
6.6%$245.6 BSan Francisco, CA
5.9%$91.2 BPittsburgh, PA
5.8%$22.9 BToledo, OH
5.8%$2.7 BSandusky, OH
5.5%$3.7 BLima, OH
5.2%$242.9 BBoston, MA
5.0%$15.1 BYOUNGSTOWN metro
4.8%$29.9 BDayton, OH
3.0%$11.2 BCanton, OH
2.0%$198.6 BDetroit, MI
1.8%$7.4 BErie, PA
1.6%$11.5 BFlint, MI
-4.8%$3.1 BSpringfield, OH
-10.7%$9.0 BLafayette, LA

and finally, the newspaper story ends with the following from the Mayor:
“One list from someone who has not been to Youngstown and seen what is going on doesn’t have much credibility with me,” Williams said. “You can take data and have the data say anything you want.”

Monday, August 04, 2008

meet you at The Palm

I just got punk'd by Metro Monthly.

I ate lunch at The Palm Cafe on Steel Street this Saturday, my third time in four weekends.

You see, I needed to get one more photo of some slow-roasted ham for this week's post of one of Youngstown's best hidden restaurants.

And this morning, I found this absolutely wonderful video of a trip to The Palm Cafe and a conversation with the Dubic family:

nice work, Metro Monthy.

Such is the fast and furious lifestyle of Youngstown online storytelling and blogging.

Another case in point, just days after my recent story about the Japanese Youngstown 2010 references and ohio meaning "good morning" in Japanese, Sunday's edition of the Youngstown Vindicator featured a similar opinion piece with the exact same topic.

Amazing coincidence, that's all. Many of you emailed me complaining how the local paper stole the idea, but I doubt that is the case.

- - -

anyway, here is the stock footage of my past few weekends at The Palm.

from the outside along Steel Street on the west side of the city:

the spread of vegetables and bread:

the chickens come out from the smoke house:

a video of cutting through the chickens:

then the lamb and hams come out:

slicing through the lamb like butter:

on one plate, chicken with genesee on draft.

on the other, lamb with labatt's blue on draft.

the whole Palm saturday experience is a wonderful ritual I member as a grade schooler from when I used to come here with my grandpa.

The place slowly fills with people in the morning, taking numbers, and then is packed at about 12:15pm when the first chickens come out. Chickens are sold by the bird or half a bird, and later the lamb and ham comes out - to be purchased by the pound.

good taste. good people.

that's The Palm.

Friday, August 01, 2008

youngstown, Ohayo gozaimasu

I remember preparing for my first trip to Japan.

I put in the language CD, and pressed play.

"Today, you are going to learn Japanese." (in english)

"First phrase: Good Morning!"

" o - hi - o "

"Ohio," I said.

Wow, I thought, what an easy language to learn. Especially since their common, everyday phrases are named after the states I have lived in.

- - -

On that note, more international coverage of Youngstown and its planning efforts.

A story from the Nihon Keizai Shimbun this month (a.k.a. Nikkei), Japan’s leading daily business-oriented newspaper, can be found here.

And from our friends in Indonesia, another story.

This complements other international stories, from Italy and Sweden, from France and Finland, and from Germany and the Nederlands.

the schonere, kleinere, groenere youngstown

- - -

note: the second phrase on the Japanese language tape was not as easy.