Friday, May 29th, 2009

Midwest Miscellany

Best Cities for a Fresh Start

Relocation Magazine recently released their rankings of “Best Cities for a Fresh Start“. The Midwest had several on the list:

  • #5 – Columbus (tie)
  • #5 – Indianapolis (tie)
  • #13 – Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • #17 – Cincinnati
  • #18 – Cleveland

More Miscellany

Richard Florida has been blogging a lot lately about Nashville, Tennessee. Check out this installment in the Nashville Effect as a sample. Which reminds me that Brendan Crain over at the Where blog recently had a great post on The New South.

Jim Russell’s Greater Youngstown 2.0 project has some interesting data on venture capital investments in the Midwest.

New York Magazine profiles transformational NYC transport commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan. One of her projects? Closing Broadway in Times Square and Herald Square to traffic.

Joel Kotkin says don’t count California out just yet.

An article on what we should do about the “uncreative class” (via Richard Florida)

An interesting contrarian take on Web 2.0.

Here’s something you don’t see every day. Detroit is looking to build a 3.4 mile, 12 stop light rail line that is privately funded. All of the money is from foundations and corporations. There’s one hiccup. The city wants to be able to county that private investment as a local match towards a federally funded extension of the system, but can’t unless it conducts an environment impact statement. (Hat tip The Overhead Wire)

A new score card from the Detroit Regional Chamber gives an updated on regional performance. The answer: not good. Also, Michigan seeks biotech future. Isn’t everybody?

The Wall Street Journal decided to compare and contrast Ann Arbor and Warren, Michigan. Also in the Journal, an article on high tech startups in the heartland. (Hat tip Brewed Fresh Daily).

As a sort of follow-up to my posting on the Future of the American Newspaper, I should note that the Chicago Tribune launched the site I alluded to in it. It is called Chicago Now, and is a Huffington Post like platform for local bloggers. It’s currently in beta. The idea is that they are luring prominent local bloggers to start using their site, with the idea that there will be a win-win, as the bloggers deliver an existing community, the synergy effects of multiple blogs on the same platform, and the Tribune’s marketing muscle. It’s pretty innovative and I think a great example of the type of low cost news gathering operations papers ought to be looking at. Low cost is imperative in the online world, so why not outsource to bloggers on a sort of profit share basis? Sounds like a plan.

I’m sure there will be kinks to work out. I noticed that they switched to teaser-only RSS feeds, which to me is a huge no-no for blogs. It comes close to violating an affordance. (Many other types of sites do this, but most blogs give full feeds). Especially since you can embed ads in RSS. With over 150 blogs in my reader, there is no way I can click to read them. Plus, registration is required, so will the commenters really come across? Will the site get infected by the typical newspaper message board crowd? We’ll see, but I’m sure they will be adjusting the model going forward based on real world results. This is definitely the type of experiment newspapers need to be trying.

Work on a $29 billion capital bill is working its way through the Illinois legislature. This includes $3 billion for roads and $2 billion for transit, with the CTA getting $910 million and $810 million. Yet again, on a per rider basis, Metra receives the lion’s share of the subsidies. It is easy to run a good system when you get all the money.

And the Chicago RTA wants to pilot paying fares with cell phones instead of tickets.

Sound familiar? Kansas City wants to subsidize construction of a 1,000 room downtown hotel to boost its convention business.

People in Columbus might be willing to pay for parks, but their police department is facing cuts of about 300 officers.


7 Responses to “Midwest Miscellany”

  1. the urban politician says:

    “Work on a $29 billion capital bill is working its way through the Illinois legislature. This includes $3 billion for roads and $2 billion for transit, with the CTA getting $910 million and $810 million. Yet again, on a per rider basis, Metra receives the lion’s share of the subsidies. It is easy to run a good system when you get all the money.”

    ^ I made a similar comment in the forums, Aaron, but it was explained to me that a good chunk of the money allocated to Metra will go towards projects that are a part of CREATE, the multi-billion dollar plan to reduce freight rail congestion in the Chicago area

  2. Alon Levy says:

    I’m skeptical of Kotkin’s attack on lavish pensions. If it were high taxes and spending that killed California, then you’d see the same problems crop up in New York and New Jersey, which the Tax Foundation has ranked the two worst in nation in business tax climate and as having the two highest state/local tax burdens. Both states have very high school expenditures, strong public sector unions, and lavish pensions. And yet, New Jersey is adding jobs faster than any other state, and New York ranks 6th (see here); the recession has hit them, but not nearly so hard as California, and they’re already in recovery mode.

  3. pete from baltimore says:

    I would just like to say that I enjoy your blog..And I appreciate the fact that you cover urban issues from a different standpoint than many journalists.

    Too often ,many journalists just cover New York City and forget about places like Cleveland and Pittsburgh .

    As a resident of Baltimore , the issue of de-industrialisation ,and the urban decay caused by it , is very important to me.

    I like to read about ways that our post industrial cities can survive and reinvent themselves.

    Thanks again for your time and hard work spent on this blog.

  4. Stephen Gross says:

    Your note about the Chicago-area collection-‘o-blogs is really interesting.

    I used to write a blog ( about midwest urbanism. I didn’t quite have enough content to keep it up on a regular basis, though. I’ve been wondering whether there’s room in the blogosphere for a website featuring midwest/urban-oriented bloggers. Do you think this would be possible?

  5. The Urbanophile says:

    pete – thank you so much for such a nice comment. I appreciate. I’ve never been to Baltimore but would love to see it one day.

    TUP, Metra has long received greater per ride subsidies than the CTA.

    Alon, NY does have serious fiscal problems, partially as a result of public sector employment considerations. What NY lacks is California’s initiative process for creating unfunded spending mandates.

    Stephen, if you are interested in talking further about this, please email me.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    New York had fiscal problems throughout 2008, but Paterson just kept slashing spending (unfortunately, he didn’t figure out the trick of selling overpriced highways to the private sector). Unlike in California, the state managed to pass a budget.

  7. books says:

    Thank you i just liked this blog and the information is good

The Urban State of Mind: Meditations on the City is the first Urbanophile e-book, featuring provocative essays on the key issues facing our cities, including innovation, talent attraction and brain drain, global soft power, sustainability, economic development, and localism. Included are 28 carefully curated essays out of nearly 1,200 posts in the first seven years of the Urbanophile, plus 9 original pieces. It's great for anyone who cares about our cities.

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Aaron M. Renn is an opinion-leading urban analyst, consultant, speaker, and writer on a mission to help America’s cities thrive and find sustainable success in the 21st century.

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