Search

Wednesday, April 6th, 2011

Ohio’s Geographic Advantages

Ohio is a state that has been, let’s be honest here, walloped pretty hard. It’s a poster child for Rust Belt industrial decline, and frequently shows up near the bottom of the league tables along with Michigan on many measures.

But I think that Ohio is fortunate to have some structural factors from its geography that work in its favor. While clearly there are still issues to work through, longer term these might benefit an Ohio comeback.

One of them is that Ohio is on the trade routes. Many major transcontinental interstates pass through the place, along with tons of rails lines. This is a big contrast to Michigan, which is a peninsula. Other than Detroit and the trade links through Canada and its air hub, Michigan is almost always going to require a special trip. I noticed this when I drove to Grand Rapids for the first time. It’s a detour. You’re not going to pass through it unless you’re going somewhere else in Michigan. Whereas in Ohio, massive amounts of people and freight are simply passing through. All it has to do is convince some of it to stop.

Furthermore, Ohio is a state of many large cities. In addition to the “3C”s of Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, there’s also Dayton, Toledo, Akron, Youngstown, etc. Since metro areas are the driver of the new economy, it’s good to have lots of larger metros. This also gives Ohio a much more urban feel than other Midwest states. For example, contrast with Indiana. Indiana is mostly urban in population too, but because most of its metros are fairly small, it has a more rural and small town mindest. The Gary region of Indiana, the second largest urban area in the state, is about the same size as Akron, and it falls off quickly after that.

Finally, the metro areas of Ohio are diverse. Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland are radically different cities. This is a good thing. As research from CEOs for Cities and others has shown, distinctiveness is one of the keys to urban success, and Ohio has some very unique metros. Cincy is certainly one of the most unique in the country.

So while Ohio will continue to face challenges, there are actually a number of positive structural factors. It will be interesting to see how these play out over time.

100 Comments
Topics: Strategic Planning

100 Responses to “Ohio’s Geographic Advantages”

  1. west town ed says:

    Ohio and the rest of the country are economic colonies of lower Manhattan. Money flows into that pit hole but nothing comes back. Ohio (and the midwest in general) used to create wealth by combining finance, raw materials and labor to produce value-added products. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case for thirty years and there is nothing than anyone can do in the midwest but wave to the contails of private jets as they fly over, well, fly-over country.

  2. Wad says:

    John Morris wrote:

    Many of these cities are too close to each other to kick the train up to full speed. Wouldn’t just a good network of reasonable speed trains–say 80–100 MPH be a better bet?

    High-speed rail performance isn’t evaluated by its top speed; it’s evaluated by its cruising (average) speed.

    The 220 mph speed would be peak performance; the average speed really determines how long the journey takes. The train would have to slow down for curves or going through built-up urban areas, as well as acceleration and deceleration, so it’s not as if 220 would be the expected cruising speed.

    A 100 mph average would mean a Chicago-Nashville roundtrip day journey would be possible, and Indianapolis becomes a Chicago exurb. A 125 mph target would make Indianapolis a suburb. Manage 150 mph, Indianapolis would fall into Chicago’s commute shed and Louisville would be an exurb.

  3. John Morris says:

    Whatever, what I mean is that A, the distances are often too short to hit top cruising speeds and B) having a network of connected stops is likey more important than just top speeds to a few points. Also, the price/cost difference is likely to be significant.

    I know very few people who regularly take the Acela between NYC and Philly but a number who regularly take the regular train.

  4. John Morris says:

    “Manage 150 mph, Indianapolis would fall into Chicago’s commute shed and Louisville would be an exurb.”

    To whom? That’s the big question. For people with lear jets lots of trips are short jumps. The problem is if the cost of providing this service either limits the number of possible riders to a small number or hits the taxpayers with a huge overhead cost.

    I also am not thrilled with the idea for most routes because it places too many concentrated bets.

    The midwest is made up of a grab bag of cities with many different histories, economic possibilities and potentials.
    Saying for example that all the larger legacy cities like Detroit or Cleveland are worthy of high speed links while the Akrons and Youngstowns are bypassed isn’t wise.

    To be blunt, for a number of reasons(weather being the biggest), I’m not so bullish on Cleveland, but I see huge potential in Youngstown. A reasonable speed train making three stops spreads out the bets.

  5. marko says:

    High Speed Rail isnt feasible for one reason: Terrorism. The same TSA lines and screening you find at the airport will have to occur at the train station. Furthermore you need to now police and protect thousands of miles of rails in remote places, easily susceptible to sabotage. For all the hassles of flying, its still by far the best, easiest to protect, and mechanically safe way to travel. That day trip to Nashville wont be possible with 2 hour boarding times, and pat downs.

  6. Alon Levy says:

    Terrorists don’t target HSR. It doesn’t cause as much impact when there aren’t 10 km of potential energy waiting to be converted to kinetic. Last terrorist attack on HSR was in the early years of the TGV; it killed so few people – 2 if I remember correctly – that it was a major embarrassment to the terrorists, who have since focused their attention on tracks, stations, and of course planes. There’s still no security theater on HSR anywhere other than very short and trivial checks (i.e. no patdowns, taking off shoes, etc.) in just a few countries. The only one that takes more than 5 minutes is Eurostar, and that’s in order to protect the Chunnel, not the trains.

  7. John S. says:

    marko,

    Your train terrorism argument doesn’t hold up for the simple fact that terrorists could just as easily target and sabotage Interstate highways, to the tune of a larger payoff, particularly when you consider just how automobile-centric the USA of 2011 is. Further, the recent design issue with Southwest’s fleet of 737s casts a shadow of doubt over the structural and mechanical safety of airplanes. Not that people are going to suddenly stop flying tomorrow, of course. This just serves to illustrate that there is risk inherent in all forms of travel, as well as advantages.

  8. John S. says:

    Columbus is clearly the leading metro in Ohio today in terms of economic growth and development. Over the longer term (20 to 30 years), I expect that Columbus will continue to grow and gain respect as one of the nation’s larger metros and as a Midwestern hub for the young, creative, educated and ambitious.

    I am a little less certain about Cincinnati and Cleveland’s recovery prospects, however. In both cases, I suspect that these cities are going to need to move much further down the path towards some serious level of reorganization around regional cooperation and governance in order to have any chance of competing globally and remaining viable into the 21st century. Cincinnati to some extent is taking baby steps towards this end now by building on and promoting its relationship with Dayton and Northern Kentucky. Cleveland is doing the same with Akron, Canton and Youngstown, and there is even some very early discussion now of joining forces with Pittsburgh in a partnership of some kind that would extend across state lines. Perhaps Toledo and Detroit will pursue a similar arrangement?

    A regional approach to governing the state may be its best bet for the future, as well as a meaningful approach towards ensuring that Columbus isn’t hopelessly hindered in its own growth and development by the rest of the state. Ohio’s biggest problem right now, however, is that its government is dominated by suburban and rural resident Baby Boomers who view urban life and and development policy with contempt, as something to be starved and curtailed rather than nurtured and expanded. Until enough of a generational shift has occured that is likely to bring with it a progressive shift in thought and policy about Ohio’s urban areas, the state as a whole will likely continue to struggle.

  9. Wad says:

    John Morris wrote:

    I also am not thrilled with the idea for most routes because it places too many concentrated bets.

    The midwest is made up of a grab bag of cities with many different histories, economic possibilities and potentials.
    Saying for example that all the larger legacy cities like Detroit or Cleveland are worthy of high speed links while the Akrons and Youngstowns are bypassed isn’t wise.

    We don’t have an HSR plan in place, so any station siting is speculative.

    That being said, one scenario I see is stations planned at the MSA and CMSA level. This isn’t really such an ostentatious level, and planning and economics would work better if seen at the city region level.

    For HSR service, you would have Level A stations and Level B stations. Level A stations would be in the principal cities of MSAs with 1 million or more residents.

    If Chicago is the sun, MSAs in Chicago’s solar system within 500 miles of it are Minneapolis, Milwaukee, Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville, Memphis, Nashville, Pittsburgh and Buffalo.

    Smaller areas that could get Class A stations would be South Bend and Toledo, because they’d serve as junctions; South Bend if an I-94 route is chosen for Chicago-Detroit and Toledo if there is an I-90 route with a fork for Detroit and Cleveland service.

    A Level B station would be for a principal city of a metro area with 500,000 to 1 million residents.

    Also, Level B stations would be given to small cities of any size with a major stationary ridership generator, such as a large university, military installation or a state capital. Champaign-Urbana and both IL and IN Bloomingtons would be served. Jefferson City is close enough to Columbia (only about a half-hour drive) that the station could be designated Columbia-Jefferson City.

    Initially, the inaugural service would be all-local, serving A and B cities. If there is sufficient ridership, limited A-only train runs can be added later.

  10. Lisa says:

    It is extremely doubtful that Cincinnati will ever attract a large contingent of young, creative types due to the extremely conservative and repressive culture in Cincinnati. It is the bastion of extreme right-wing Republicans (Mean Jean Schmidt, Ken Blackwell, Bob Taft, John Boehner, Rob Portman, etc.) It is also a town fraught with a history of rampant racism, police brutality, homophobia and repression of the arts (see Robert Mapplethorpe exhibit). Then you have brilliant city leaders like the late Marge Schott, who claimed that Hitler got a bad rap and really wasn’t that bad of a guy. There is no way that progressive, creative YPs want to live in that kind of place. Just sayin’

  11. Anonymous says:

    John S:
    You stated you were less certain about Cleveland’s recovery prospects. I disagree. By far the lion’s share of Third Frontier money comes to Northeast Ohio. We have a lot of high quality of life treasures: Universities, Cultural institutions, fantastic park system, miles of shoreline and beaches. Don’t let a little bad press about foreclosures define the region. The Cleveland-Akron region (which should be considered a CMSA) is quite a bit larger than any other region in Ohio.

    John M:
    For trains to have an impact on a region they have to make daily commuting realistic. So if an 80 mph train were built between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, it would have to offer residents job opportunities in either metropolis. Which means we need train or bus connections from a central terminal in both cities AND these secondary buses and trains have to get to the jobs. My guess is that Pittsburgh is like Cleveland in that there are some job centers covered by the RTA but most are not. Unfortunately, a lot of the new jobs are popping up in the suburbs where point to point coverage is much less likely. We’ve had an excursion train between Akron and Cleveland for decades but no one has ever pursued it as a commuter train because we just don’t have transit oriented development in either city.

    I do like your plan for level A and level B stations, perhaps it will spur real transit oriented development. The problem will be the public funding that is needed and the patience for long term results.

  12. Paul Wittibschlager says:

    John S:
    You stated you were less certain about Cleveland’s recovery prospects. I disagree. By far the lion’s share of Third Frontier money comes to Northeast Ohio. We have a lot of high quality of life treasures: Universities, Cultural institutions, fantastic park system, miles of shoreline and beaches. Don’t let a little bad press about foreclosures define the region. The Cleveland-Akron region (which should be considered a CMSA) is quite a bit larger than any other region in Ohio.

    John M:
    For trains to have a significant economic impact on a region they have to make daily commuting realistic. So if an 80 mph train were built between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, it would have to offer residents job opportunities in either metropolis. Which means we need train or bus connections from a central terminal in both cities AND these secondary buses and trains have to get to the jobs. My guess is that Pittsburgh is like Cleveland in that there are some job centers covered by the RTA but most are not. Unfortunately, a lot of the new jobs are popping up in the suburbs where point to point coverage is much less likely. We’ve had an excursion train between Akron and Cleveland for decades but no one has ever pursued it as a commuter train because we just don’t have transit oriented development in either city.

    I do like your plan for level A and level B stations, perhaps it will spur transit oriented development. The problem will be the public funding that is needed and the patience for long term results.

  13. Paul Wittibschlager says:

    Sorry for the double post.
    I see that the level A and level B train station idea belongs to Wad, which I reiterate is a decent idea.

  14. John Morris says:

    I believe, I was also the one who said I was less bullish about Cleveland’s prospects.

    A) I don’t consider a pipeline of “third frontier” or any other supply of government money to be endlessly available.

    B) I am am pretty aware of Cleveland’s very large supply of first class, Eds, Meds and science assets and old money–which is why I’m generally bullish on the region. However, time is running out to make wise choices and create livable and workable synergies between the schools and the city/surrounding area.

    C) I do consider the extreme Cleveland weather and lake effect snows to be a very large liability in an age in which it’s old port location andd heavy industry is less important.

    D) I have the widely held view of most outsiders that the city administration is inept and corrupt.

    My personal guess is the city is sacrificing itself to create–perhaps regional assets at it’s own expense. I’ve noticed for example a number of small med/drug startups picking Akron as a location.

    Anyway, I don’t see the wisdom of placing all the bets on a few places–in the way that high speed rail seems to do, in a region in which the variety of towns and cities is so great.

  15. John Morris says:

    Yes, obviously is what I’m counting on, that this will spur more transit oriented development.

    Another reason, why I’m not bullish on Cleveland is I just don’t see a sincer commitment towards this. There’s some better thinking around the schools on the east side, but almost all the big investments in the downtown focus on Stadiums, tourist attractions and mega casino’s. To be blunt, the world is big and they just don’t deserve an investment they won’t use wisely. High Speed rail toa city thinking like Cleveland is as great an investment as building Pittsburgh’s North Shore connector.

    Youngstown, is worthy of a rail investment because they are already planning exactly the kind of tight downtown where it would be of great value.

  16. John Morris says:

    Paul Wittibschlager says:

    For trains to have a significant economic impact on a region they have to make daily commuting realistic.

    I don’t really buy that.

    A)Good connections allow a whole range of short stay trips, conferences, conventions and business interactions easier. In an age of freelancers, startups and consultants, this is very important.

    B)There’s also a huge crowd of young people and retired people who would benefit from being more connected and less car dependent.Allowing young people and students to explore nearby urban centers easily would help brain circulation. Too many people enter and leave the area without fully knowing their options.

    C)Tourism and shopping is also an awesome opportunity. Right now, I’m not thrilled about tourist oriented projects, because outside of 2 or 3 American cities this almost always means car oriented tourism.

    Nobody has addressed the other big issue with real high speed rail–can it come in at a cost that allows wide use?

  17. Paul Wittibschlager says:

    John M:
    The Cleveland-Akron region has been and will be a great place to have a career, raise a family, etc. The jobs are here, make no mistake about it. Just go to careerbuilder.com and enter “engineering” and “Cleveland, OH” and compare the numbers with other regions of interest like “Pittsburgh, PA”. I think you’ll see we stack up nicely. Do the same with “healthcare” jobs. So don’t write the region off and don’t think the Third Frontier money will go to waste, it is creating jobs, it has been renewed by vote, and independent review has said its working. Finally, like Allegheny County, we are in the process of cleaning house on our county government. So there’s a lot of hope.

    Cleveland has some serious problems to solve: we need to figure out how to educate the lower and middle class residents who live here, in Cleveland proper. We need to educate the region on the importance of regional government. We need to educate the State of Ohio on the importance of urban planning. These are big problems that all cities mentioned in this blog – have not come close to solving. Albeit there are plenty of smaller scale success stories.

    On the issue of trains – they are a big investment. I am more a fan of bus transit because it is flexible and costs much less. Cities like to think big and trains are a natural desire. But buses are less expensive and can solve the transit problems of nearly all big cities. The new bus service announced by Megabus.com is probably a better solution for transit between metropolitan areas like Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Train tracks are just too expensive for moving people unless you’re moving a lot of them like in NY or Eastern seaboard.

  18. Alon Levy says:

    John, your description of Cleveland reminds me of descriptions I’ve read of provincial French towns, which, with the exception of Lille, just sat there and kept waiting for the TGV to come and be the silver bullet that would develop them. The TGV came and succeeded, but those towns are as depressed as ever; only Lille, which has aggressively reformed and redeveloped and leveraged its location close to three major capitals, got better after HSR came.

  19. Paul Wittibschlager says:

    John, one other thing, the Cleveland winters are just not that bad. The snow is on the east side for the most part.

    I think you’re from the Pittsburgh region so let me give you the kudos you deserve. The region looks great. Downtown is beautiful. The hills and neighborhoods are fun places to visit. You’ve got the great cultural institutions, universities, healthcare, and quality of life that most other cities desire. As long as the region continues on its track it should continue to be the great metropolitan region it has been and is today. Oh yeah, you guys have a great football team too.

  20. John S. says:

    Paul,

    For the record, I have a major affinity for Cleveland and NE Ohio, and I would dearly love to see the entire city-region from Cleveland to Canton, and from Mansfield through Akron and Youngstown successfully reemerge and thrive again for a new generation of Clevelanders/NE Ohioans and all of those who are yet to come.

    At the same time, I don’t believe it is helpful for us to merely ignore or gloss over the genuine problems that do exist in Cleveland, such as the corruption in the county government and the politics of entitlement and self-interest that are rampant on Cleveland City Council. The citizens of Cleveland and NE Ohio must confront and adequately address these problems before the city can truly be reborn, regardless of the promise of Cleveland’s Meds & Eds, University Circle, Ohio City, Cuyahoga Valley National Park or the many other amenities that exist there. Promises can and do go unfulfilled and unrealized if the moral and ethical wherewithal is not present among local government leaders to support meaningful progress towards their realization.

    You have, for instance, Jimmy Dimora, a former Cuyahoga County Commissioner who the FBI recently busted for running what may arguably be the biggest pay-to-play political machine in local, urban US government since the heyday of Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall in NYC. That’s a pretty sobering fact. It is hopeful now, however, that some of the root causes and symptoms of the corruption are now being addressed by the recently elected County Executive, Ed FitzGerald, who has been running purges and reforms of county staff and policies since before he officially took office.

    The fact that Cleveland and Cuyahoga County even approved a county charter government in the first place, in light of Dimora’s machine being exposed, says that there is hope greater still for a regional approach to governance in a region that has long been a poster child for cumbersome local government parochialism on overdrive. The city and suburbs alike are finally realizing that they have a common destiny. That’s huge progress. But the real work has yet to be started. It won’t get very far if the infamous “Cleveland Cynicism” manages to retain its grip on the city’s atmosphere.

    The bad news for Cleveland/NE Ohio on this front is that there are a number of other regions that are farther ahead of it in the race for talent, ideas and investment. Look at Columbus for example. What is Ohio’s state capital doing to to attract, develop and retain so many educated young professionals that Cleveland could also do but isn’t? Why is Pittsburgh, a city that closely mirrors Cleveland in virtually every possible way, making more headway in its own rebirthing efforts? Cleveland is beginning to see some shifts and make some small steps forward, but will this progress continue? And will it be enough? What must Cleveland do to rediscover its competitive edge?

  21. John Morris says:

    “We need to educate the region on the importance of regional government.”

    I do think the desperate need for regional government in both Pittsburgh and Cleveland, comes from mismanagement of the space and resources each city has. Pittsburgh is the size of San Fransisco in square area and should had enough available land and legacy assets, schools, corporate headquarters etc..to have made for a bankable city. (Actually to crush most of these tiny marginal suburbs and make them beg to be part of Pittsburgh)

    Nobody put a gun to our head and told we had to hand some of the best land in the city out to a Football or Hockey team–or allow the schools themselves to go on binges grabbing up land and destroying neighborhoods. Allegheny Center was the city’s brilliant plan.

    Likewise, I’m not an expert on Cleveland, but I don’t think anyone forced the city to do the brilliant bone headed experiments it’s carried out on itself. Right now, it looks like Cleveland has already made the choice about what kind of city it wants to be. Three stadiums in the downtown, mega convention center, mega casino–none of this is compatable with high speed rail.

    Cleveland said kick me and the suburbs said–sure.

    One of the major criteria here has to be to focus on the places that are going to make rational use of the asset.

  22. John Morris says:

    Here’s what I mean by kick the crap out of it’s suburbs.

    Manhattan is a somewhat extreme example of dense, thriving, mixed use urbanism. If the other boroughs left the city, they would suffer a shocking drop in their tax base–since it’s Manhattan that pays the bulk of the bills. In fact, Nassau County residents might jump at a chance to join NYC in order to lower their tax bills.

    It’s very hard for even very wealthy bedroom dominated suburbs to keep reasonable tax rates.

    Here’s a story about Cleveland’s old line streetcar suburb of Shaker Heights thinking about beefing up office development–no doubt to try and beef up it’s tax base.

    http://blog.cleveland.com/sunpress/2011/04/shaker_heights_eyes_high-end_o.html

  23. John Morris says:

    So anyway, my guess as to the best rail investments would be a high speed line–Chicago–Indianapolis–Pittsburgh.

    Moderate speed lines then linking Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati and Pittsburgh–Youngstown–Akron-Cleveland.

    The straight shot landscape from along the Indi-Columbus-Pittsburgh route is too great to pass up.I also see a lot of value in a cohesive network and Pittsburgh is very close to D.C.

  24. John Morris says:

    I mean, Chicago- Indianapolis- Columbus- Pittsburgh.

  25. John S. says:

    I like the way you think, John M. It’s true that there is a certain unmistakable swagger about Manhattan and Chicago proper that is entirely or nearly absent in the core of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and other once flourishing Rust Belt cities. It it simply a matter of size? Or an inferiority complex of some kind?

    Perhaps, at least for these smaller cities, it has more to do with foresight—or the lack thereof—on the part of city leadership at critical historical junctures. Cleveland, for instance, years ago could have forced its then newly emerging suburbs to submit to annexation for access to the city’s water supply. It didn’t. Today, Cleveland is walled in by rings upon rings of incorporated suburbs and is completely unable to annex new land in order to expand its tax base. Compare this sorry predicament with Columbus, whose mayor in the early 1950s foresaw Cleveland’s current plight and swore that his city would not meet with the same fate. Columbus since then has proceeded to double its size and surpassed a declining Cleveland in population 20 years ago to become Ohio’s largest city. Clevelanders may scoff at Columbus’s ascent, but their city’s problems historically really do have more to do with poor self-image, missed opportunities and the shortsighted decisions of its leaders.

  26. John S. says:

    John M. — I thought I read somewhere that there is a group proposing a high speed line that would link Chicago to New York via Toledo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh? I don’t know how much progress this proposal has made, but it seems to be a reasonable alternative.

  27. John Morris says:

    There are so many possible options, however the term, “high speed” does tend towards the sraight shot routes on the flatest land.

    Remember another possible option is the I-80 corridor Chicago–Toledo–Akron–Youngstown–New York. This is a critical right of way straight to New York City.

    It seems somewhat far fetched in that, the amount of space around the road is very small. It’s tragic this route isn’t more exploited.

    “Today, Cleveland is walled in by rings upon rings of incorporated suburbs and is completely unable to annex new land in order to expand its tax base. Compare this sorry predicament with Columbus, whose mayor in the early 1950s foresaw Cleveland’s current plight and swore that his city would not meet with the same fate.”

    That wasn’t exactly my point. Columbus has I believe suffered a considerable amount of inner city population loss and has depended very much on expanding outward. If one excluded this outward march, I think it’s numbers would be not so good.

    My point was that I think in both the case of Pittsburgh and Cleveland, you had city governments that seemed both incompetent and heavy handed. Cities around them said–no way we going to let those guys dominate and destroy what we have.

    Pittsburgh, did make one very major forcable annexation of The Old City of Allegheny (Pittsburgh’s North Side) in 1910 or so. This should have been a wonderful opportunity for the city to exploit the area’s wonderful historic street grid and create dense mixed use development as industry left the riverfront. Instead, the city tore through the area with all kinds of highway, “urban renewal” and stadium plans which both destroyed the North Side and failed to contribute to the city tax base.

    Every surrounding community looked and said–no way are we letting this crowd do to us, what they did to Allegheny.

    http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07343/839995-53.stm

    Cleveland, needs to expand so desperately because it’s done such a poor job with the land it has.

  28. Wad says:

    Paul Wittibschlager wrote:
    I do like your plan for level A and level B stations, perhaps it will spur transit oriented development.

    Thanks on the A/B stations.

    Ironically, for a place like the Midwest, high-speed rail doesn’t need to serve as a catalyst for transit-oriented development. (Plus, you have to remember that a train station, and especially the trains, aren’t the most pleasant neighbors you can have.)

    All those Level A cities I mentioned, they are HSR-ready and have been for a long time. Those cities have the development in place, because they were able to leverage their former economic might into civic assets that lasted longer or couldn’t be moved.

    Cleveland has lost population, and especially jobs, over decades. Yet at the same time, Cleveland has the foundations for an urban renaissance. The Cleveland CMSA (which includes Akron) has more than 2.5 million residents; even without Akron, Cleveland and its suburbs are still the home of 2 million people.

    Cleveland’s Hopkins Airport still has more than 5 million boardings a year.

    Cleveland has three major-league sports teams. It has two universities. In terms of culture, it spans from the world-famous Rock & Roll Hall of Fame to the subculture flavor of the house used in “A Christmas Story”.

    Cleveland also has natural assets in a lake and a river, useful not only for commerce but also for civic adornment.

    These haven’t helped Cleveland lift itself on its own, but with the right catalyst, these assets would be rediscovered and renewed.

    You could make a similar case for many other regions that had seen better days. Now, it’s making the case that better days can come around again.

  29. Lisa says:

    John M. – Columbus did undergo the typical “flight to the suburbs” and lost a huge amount of population in its urban core after the major highways were built in the 1950′s and 1960′s; however, there has been a very concerted effort by Mayor Coleman and City Council to reverse that trend. They had a goal (I believe it was 10,000 new households in downtown by 2010, but am not positive of that.) Columbus offered developmnet incentives, tax abatements, etc. for building, converting and buying a home downtown. They were well on the way (I think maybe 3-4,000 households) whent he economy tanked and then the real estate market died, mortgage rules changed for condos, etc. But it is now starting to rebound a little and there are still considerable efforts and motivation to move/develop downtown. In addition, there are a number of thriving old neighborhoods in the city’s urban core (German Village, Italian Village, Victorian Village) that are helping reverse this trend.

  30. Chris Barnett says:

    Lisa, Columbus captured all that regional growth by sprawling out and annexing its suburbs.

    Re Cleveland and Pittsburgh: they are two of 4 (out of 51 1-million-plus) metros to lose population 2000-2010. Not just CITY population, but METRO population. There is no good way to spin shrinkage.

    Cincinnati will probably keep growing at some rate just because of the corporate climate. One of the world’s biggest consumer-products companies is located there, which provides a talent magnet for some talented young people with their newly minted degrees. A certain number will grow roots and stay.

  31. John Morris says:

    Paul, Cleveland has way more than two universities (remember, John Carroll is a University). One really shouldn’t dis the value of it’s smaller schools either since many like The Cleveland Institute Of Music, Oberlin College and the Cleveland Institute of Art have very strong brands.

    The overall regional college assets do make it hard to bet the area will fall off the map. My personal guess is that at least Akron will pick up loose balls, Cleveland drops.

    My overall negativity towards Cleveland, comes from this foolish obsession with it’s sports teams.,Get over it–and get on with being a convenient, livable place to live and work.

  32. John Morris says:

    Oh, I guess my last comment was in response to Wad.

  33. Lisa says:

    @Chris – I agree, Columbus has done a great job of sprawling. Not that I support sprawl – but it has been an effective strategy by the City. Interesting article in Sunday, April 10′s Dispatch comparing that to Detroit that shows a map of what you refer to. http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/insight/stories/2011/04/10/reversing-detroit.html
    Columbus still has many strong suburbs and some would say too many different municipalities and should continue to focus on regionalism, which I have started to see Mayor Coleman and Franklin Co. commissioners do.

  34. Lisa says:

    John M. – love your comment about Cleveland’s sports teams! Of course, the complaint about Cbus is that “it isn’t a real town” because it doesn’t have pro football, baseball or basketball. I agree – get over it! Who cares if your football team is pro or not? OSU football games draw in attendance that eclipses pro attendance in cities like Cinti and Cleveland.

  35. Matthew Hall says:

    As the economic and demographic center of gravity moves south in the U.S. Cincinnati will be most likely to take advantage of its location. Columbus’ eds and meds have and will continue to help it but Cleveland has locational disadvantages only modestly less than Detroit. Pittsburgh shows that even the most successful efforts in Cleveland will only slow down the decline in the region. The population gains over 150,000 that Cincinnati and Columbus experienced in the last ten years make clear how vastly worse of Cleveland and some part of that is location.

  36. John Morris says:

    Pittsburgh is a special case in that it has geographic issues rare in Ohio. It’s a very wierd range of communities, sprawled along river valleys, located for a very specific industrial purpose. Yes, it has wonderful brain power assets, but a difficulty taking full advantage for lack of good land.

    Add to this, mismanagement of the key areas it does have like the North Side make for problems.

    Ultimately I see Pittsburgh’s future tied to building a tech network involving Youngstown forming a Silicon Valley type grouping. hopefully linked by a rail line.

    Growth in the Cranberry/North hills tells you my thoughts are not too far off.

  37. John Morris says:

    Just google the words–Pittsburgh and flood or flash flood and you get an idea of what I’m taking about.

  38. Chris Barnett says:

    Lisa, give Columbus’ leaders from my childhood credit: they prevented the first-ring suburbs from encircling the city (as happened to Detroit, St. Louis, Chicago, Minneapolis Cleveland, etc.). So some of those ‘burbs I listed are surrounded by Columbus instead of the other way around. Columbus IS the regional entity.

    Indianapolis grabbed most of its first-ring suburbs, but can’t grow beyond county limits as part of the Unigov deal.

    Sprawl actually might provide Columbus with a unique advantage over the other Midwest cities: the ability to capture a steady share of population and job growth while planning that growth. And all that by application of “The Western Rule”: s/he who controls the (city) water supply, controls the growth.

  39. Chris Barnett says:

    Oops, meant to list Upper Arlington, Worthington, Westerville, New Albany, Bexley, Groveport, Dublin, and Canal Winchester as suburbs which have been or might soon be just enclaves within the Columbus boundaries.

  40. Lisa says:

    Chris – I do give Cbus leaders credit. I just didn’t want anyone to think I was a proponent of random sprawl gobbling up acres of cornfields. I agree it is what has made Cbus what it is today and has positioned it well for the future.

  41. Paul Wittibschlager says:

    Chris B:
    Columbus’ land grab may come back to bite it. One reason Detroit is in such dire straights – it has a larger area to distribute services, 139 sq mi. Columbus has a whopping 210 sq mi. Cleveland only 79 sq mi. The biggest problem is controlling suburbanization which even the most hungry cities like Houston (600 sq mi) cannot do. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_area for land area data.

    I think Columbus can look to Cleveland for some answers. Columbus should start some BIG land conservation efforts – particularly towards the West (Darby Creek area.) Cleveland has 33,000 acres preserved forever in the CVNP, another 15,000 or so in the Cleveland metroparks, and nothing north of the shoreline can be developed, because its underwater and protected. We also have efforts to expand the metroparks.

    There are things Cleveland needs to learn from Columbus. We need to improve our public school system. We need to pour money into our downtown state university (Cleveland St.) We are finally doing the latter.

    The point I want to make is this. Every metropolitan area should have large areas of conserved land for parks. It helps prevent suburbanization, makes a place where people want to live, preserves water quality in streams, encourages a youthful lifestyle.

  42. Lisa says:

    Paul – Columbus has more park land per capita than any other city in the u.s. And there is a huge difference between the total acres. See the article I posted earler about Detroit – shows a map of Cbus’ land mass vs. Detroit. Detroit is concentrated all in urban core that is boxed in by suburbs. Columbus is like a Rorschach test with tenticles all over the place. There are currently efforts underway (have been for a long time) to protect the Scioto watershed from development on the west side into Madison County.

  43. Paul Wittibschlager says:

    Lisa:
    The Columbus metropolitan park district protects about 26,000 acres in the 7 county region. That’s real good but still much less than what we have up here in the Cleveland area. Keep in mind we have extensive holdings in the metropark systems of Cuyahoga (>20,000), Summit (>10,000), Lake, Geauga, and Lorain. Add in the CVNP(>33,000) and you get the idea. More importantly though, the CVNP prevented suburbanization in much of the Cuyahoga Valley while the Lake prevents suburbanization to the North.

    I will say that I stand corrected though….26,000 is a very good number and I did not believe it to be that high. Keep up the great conservation efforts.

  44. John Morris says:

    “Columbus’ land grab may come back to bite it. One reason Detroit is in such dire straights – it has a larger area to distribute services, 139 sq mi. Columbus has a whopping 210 sq mi. Cleveland only 79 sq mi. The biggest problem is controlling suburbanization which even the most hungry cities like Houston (600 sq mi) cannot do. Check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_cities_by_area for land area data.”

    Right, to say Detroit is trapped by suburbs is absurd–the city has more land than it knows what to do with and the suburbs have the same issues with many of them also in dire economic condition. Planned shrinkage and rebalancing is needed throughout the region.

  45. John Morris says:

    LOL, poor Chicago with only 227.1 square miles of land area is “trapped” by it’s inner ring suburbs.

    I know different cities have different issues and histories–with Chicago having a significant heavy industrial past and legacy issues. Even so, it really doesn’t seen that the city should be short of land–more likely it’s been short of good government and good design and planning.

  46. John Morris says:

    To be blunt though, there’s something intangible one sees in many of the cities we think of as troubled. IMHO, a big factor is a history of repeated blunt force trauma in the way of huge scale urban renewal schemes.

    Newark, St. Louis, Cleveland and Detroit went through extreme trauma. Has anyone read the book, Root Shock?

  47. John S. says:

    On the issue of land area, this is where I don’t see the frequent comparisons between Cleveland and Detroit holding much weight. Cleveland’s 79 square miles are still fairly densely populated and used today compared to Detroit’s 139 square miles. Maybe you could demolish a couple of blocks of decaying houses here and there in Cleveland to create a series of small parks, but the city is still nowhere near the need for the type of vast restructuring that Detroit is currently facing. Cleveland just doesn’t have blocks upon blocks of vacant land that could be justifiably “returned to nature” in the same sense that Detroit does.

  48. Lisa says:

    John M – have not heard of Root Shock – who is the author, what is it about?

  49. John Morris says:

    Root Shock: How Tearing Up City Neighborhoods Hurts America, and What We Can Do About It

    Mindy Thompson Fullilove

    http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1958290

    I think that’s a decent NPR interview about it.

  50. Barron says:

    Consolidation is the key! Consolidation of city,county state government. Imagine a city that is also the state capital and single largest city in the state (in fact only largest major city in the state). I’m not talking about Indianapolis, but Boston, Massachusetts. The creation of city/state and federal lands within a given region equates to more city, state, or federal authority. Streamlining these functions produces a singular direction of development as opposed to many competing interests.

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.

Telestrian Data Terminal

about

A production of the Urbanophile, Telestrian is the fastest, easiest, and best way to access public data about cities and regions, with totally unique features like the ability to create thematic maps with no technical knowledge and easy to use place to place migration data. It's a great way to support the Urbanophile, but more importantly it can save you tons of time and deliver huge value and capabilities to you and your organization.

Try It For 30 Days Free!

About the Urbanophile

about

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.

Full Bio

Contact

Please email before connecting with me on LinkedIn if we don't already know each other.

 

Copyright © 2006-2014 Urbanophile, LLC, All Rights Reserved - Copyright Information