Saturday, April 25th, 2009
The Christian Science Monitor running a piece on which cities will recover first from the recession (hat tip Return to Pittsburgh). Here is their map:
In tabular form, the cities I cover (by year of recovery, then alphabetic) and the year they are expected to reach their old peak employment levels:
- 2009-2010 – Indianapolis
- 2011 – Columbus
- 2012 – Chicago
- 2012 – Cincinnati
- 2012 – Kansas City
- 2012 – Twin Cities
- 2013-2014 – Louisville
- 2013-2014 – Milwaukee
- 2013-2014 – St. Louis
- Post 2014- Cleveland
- Post 2014 – Detroit
Charlotte debates whether newcomers are a burden or boon. In the short run, the influx of newcomers has really driven up unemployment. In the long term, it is probably good. Here’s an interesting quote:
“Two years ago, James and Cynthia Kwolyk put their Connecticut home on the market. Their goal: Move to Charlotte with its milder weather and nearby relatives.
“Then their house sat, waiting for a buyer. The family still moved – even though the house didn’t sell for 11/2 years, and they had to drop the price $100,000.
“Charlotte owes much of its prosperity to newcomers willing to pull up stakes and gamble on opportunity here.”
Again, how many people do you know that have pulled up stakes and moved to a Midwest city in search of opportunity? That’s the aspiration they should have, however. Until your town is seen as an opportunity city, a place people will decide to plant their flag and seek their fortune without some pre-existing connection, then it isn’t truly a healthy or thriving place.
It looks like Flint, Michigan is signing on to the shrinkage program. Big coverage in the New York Times. Thanks to a reader for sending me this one. “Dozens of proposals have been floated over the years to slow this city’s endless decline. Now another idea is gaining support: speed it up. Instead of waiting for houses to become abandoned and then pulling them down, local leaders are talking about demolishing entire blocks and even whole neighborhoods.”
This is adopting the Youngstown strategy. This has to be part of the equation for a number of struggling manufacturing cities, including some big ones like Detroit. I would love to see the federal government put some money behind this. Shrinking your fixed cost base is incredibly difficult and painful. Scale works miracles on the way up – and on the way down. I think in return for abandoning the pretense of renewed growth and signing onto an aggressive shrinkage program to put a city back on a sustainable path, the feds should be willing to help fund the change program.
On a related note, Richard Longworth speaks in Muncie of how small Midwestern cities are dying.
The Wall Street Journal had a great article this week called “Spain’s Bullet Trains Change a Nation – and Fast“. It is must reading. I am no fan of boondoggles. There are any number of projects I’ve argued against on this blog, including, for example, light rail in smaller cities. But I think we ought to take a hard look at high speed in the Midwest. For my thoughts, please see my “High Speed Rail” posting.
Can high speed rail be justified purely on an income statement basis? No. There is no way it will ever pay its capital and operating costs. But you know what, I think it is debatable whether or not passenger rail ever made money in the US, even back in the 19th century. Heck, rail period often had major government backing, such as federal land concessions. Would we have been better off as a country without it? I don’t think so. I think there are opportunities in the Midwest to link smaller cities with Chicago to potentially enable some game changing applications. There’s no slam dunk on it, but it certainly warrants serious study.
President Obama has made HSR a signature element of his transportation program. However, I have a big fear that a Midwest “high speed” system will in fact be just warmed over conventional rail at 110MPH. Amtrak on steroids if you will. It is certainly not the system in Spain, which I have personally ridden and which is fantastic. I am very concerned that an inferior system labeled as “high speed” will only end up ruining the high speed rail in the United States.
Travel dip slams midsized airports. This affects a number of Midwest cities.
Richard Morrill over at New Geography does some interesting graphs of tax burden by state.
Richard Layman talks about transit and travel demand management.
Rem Koolhaas calls this the “end of a period“.
Congrats to Renee over at Feed Me Drink Me for her profile in the Indianapolis Star. She urges diners to demand excellence. Forget food for a minute, there’s a huge lesson in her prescription for the whole Midwest.
The Atlantic Monthly runs an unflattering story about Kansas City’s new arena.
And here’s a hilarious fake sign (not in Chicago, but via the CTA Tattler):
Presumably a commentary on the MTA “doomsday” in New York.
Top CVG job vacant six months (Enquirer)
College of Creative Studies gambles $136 million on Argonaut Building (Detroit News)
Auto storms my sink Michigan (Nolan Finley @ Detroit News)
Is inadequate management Indiana’s problem? (Morton Marcus)
Long time director at Nelson-Atkins Museum to retire (KC Star)
No recession in Louisville (backstage.com)
Louisville plays waiting game for top retail stores (C-J)
Block ‘E’ might stand for ’emptier’ (Star-Tribune via a reader in Indianapolis)