Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Can Cleveland Make a Comeback?

I love this article by Joel Kotkin and Richey Piiparinen. It puts into words some of the things I would like to say about this area, and about "the Rustbelt" in general, and it adds some things that I wasn't aware of. I've heard some things here and there from local news agencies about how Cleveland is trying to position itself as a leader in the health-care service and technology industry. The new Medical Mart is supposed to be a big key in this endeavor. However, as an almost life-long resident of the Cleveland area, I've heard lots of ideas that were supposed to help Cleveland that turned out to not really be all that exciting. One of the latest ones I remember was the new Horseshoe Casino in the Tower City building. Sure, it's providing jobs, but anything you could put in that spot would provide jobs. Is it bringing outside money into the city? I don't know, but I do know that the Avenue shopping center, also located in Tower City, seemed, to me, to be a shadow of its former self when I visited this year. If people are coming to the casino, I think the hope is that they will spend money elsewhere too. I'm not sure that is happening judging by outside appearances. I may be wrong; Mr. BTEG might be a better source, since he works downtown every day.

However many close tries and possibilities Cleveland has had, reading that the CEO of Siemens, USA described the city as a hub for the healthcare industry means that perhaps the city has done something right. I absolutely agree with the authors that trying to appeal to artsy hipsters is not enough to revitalize a large metropolitan area like Cleveland. I also like that they see manufacturing and engineering as keys to a city's growth, instead of concentrating solely on service-type jobs, as seems to have been a prevailing idea among some economists as our manufacturing base has disappeared. Rebuilding it in a twentieth-first century format would be a great way to provide income for people who would then have money to spend on retail and services.

I would like to point out that one thing the article cites as encouraging international investment, is cheap and abundant domestic energy, such as natural gas. Encouraging people to move more with things like unemployment benefits, as suggested by Berkeley-based economist Enrico Moretti, makes as much sense as Nancy Pelosi's assertion that unemployment cash makes the economy grow. Growth only comes about if people are *working.* And affordable energy makes starting or growing a business more affordable and more appealing. If the Rustbelt can come back by providing blue-collar jobs, it will help the very people government claims to care about the most.

Hat tip: Ace of Spades HQ