Three lessons from the Rust Belt on growing a healthy city

Armando Carbonell and Torey Hollingsworth for Next City:

“The loss of major industries also hurt cities in more subtle ways, by depriving them of a broad cohort of civic leaders that were once woven into their communities’ social fabric. Today, as smaller legacy cities take steps to regenerate, their continued success depends on rebuilding civic capacity and talent across the public and private sectors. They can do that best with a sustained commitment of resources by states, which need to recognize the importance of smaller cities to their future.

These are the conclusions of a new report by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy and the Greater Ohio Policy Center, “Revitalizing America’s Smaller Legacy Cities: Strategies for Postindustrial Success from Gary to Lowell,” which tracks the progress of 24 smaller postindustrial cities in Michigan, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts.

The cities range in population from 30,000 to 200,000 and face unique challenges, but they have more in common than they differ. They each rose to prosperity amid a wave of international and domestic migration, and many continue to recognize the role of immigrants in their resurgence a century later. They all want to attract young professionals and startups while nurturing their existing residents and businesses. And unlike their larger counterparts, they lack many of the big anchor institutions — corporations, universities, hospitals and philanthropies — that that might otherwise lead their regeneration.

Some cities have already begun to rebuild the civic capacity needed to improve the local economy and quality of life. We will release a toolkit with strategies in early 2018, building on a few core approaches that have worked thus far…”

Read the rest of this op-ed in Next City. Also, check out the report by our partner Greater Ohio Policy Center!


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