On Fixing Cleveland – Part 1: How Can It Be Done?

798px-Cleveland_from_Superior_ViaductWhy fix Cleveland? I live in the region and I have a personal interest in it. I can tell you that it was once a great city; of over 900,000 people. It has beautiful architecture, sports, lots of museums and other cultural institutions.   It has all the makings of a wonderful place to live.   Since 1950, Cleveland has imploded to barely 400,000 people. Now it is known as ‘the mistake on the lake’. If you can fix Cleveland you can fix any city, because Cleveland has nearly all the problems that any city faces. Even if we only partially fix it, it is worth doing for its own sake. Also any lessons learned can then be rolled out to other struggling cities across the country.   What does it take to bring Cleveland back?

  1. Think in terms of the larger metropolitan region, not just what is inside the city limits. The whole region needs to recognize what can be gained by fixing its urban centers and what will be lost if it doesn’t.
  2. Bring in more jobs, by making it a more attractive place for businesses to do business.  This is the old ‘if you build it they will come approach.’  It works; look at Plano, Texas.
  3. Bring in more people by reducing crime, improving schools, and cleaning up areas of urban blight.  If people are already moving here for a job, they just might choose to live in the city instead of the suburbs if the city is nice enough.
  4. Rebuild its image.  Most people think of crime, poverty, de-industrialization and decay when they think of Cleveland.  Cleveland needs to rebrand around the service, hi-tech, bio/medical and other indutries that have come in to replace steel, oil and other heavy industries in the previous half a century.  Cleveland needs to talk about its low cost cost of living relative to its middle-income level.  Cleveland needs to get the word out that its orchestra, its art museum, its playhouse, aren’t just as good as every other city – it needs to make it known that they are world class, and outclass those of many other American cities like Boston or Pittsburgh.

The larger metropolitan region is a great place to live. I consider the area to include all the towns and suburbs along the I-77: Cleveland, Akron, Canton and their suburbs and also, further out, Medina, Wooster, Youngstown and Warren and their suburbs. Individually, all of these cities, including Cleveland itself, are a bunch of nothing-little-places. Together, they are a multi-county region of about 4 million people within a maximum of 40 miles of either Cleveland or Akron. There is a lot of gain to fixing the greater Cleveland area.

  1. It would help many people who live in poverty and lack access to good jobs, education and so on
  2. It could make a lot of money for the businesses involved
  3. It would provide good jobs for the people working at those businesses (hopefully some of those people could be the people in bullet 1)
  4. It would help the surrounding suburbs and towns.
  5. Many people would want to live there – not just young handy people like me.

Some of the neighbors are in terrible shape, for example East Cleveland. It should be declared a federal disaster area and annexed. Assuming Cleveland gets fixed at some point in future, I would not be surprised if some of the other places around it would still see economic value in still being independent. A friend of mine suggests that, ultimately, Cleveland and Cuyahoga County should merge. How? Scenario 1: In 1970, Indianapolis, its county and most of the other suburbs and towns in the county merged into a ‘Unigov’  structure. Scenario 2: Columbus Oh was able to annex its neighbors by requiring annexation in exchange for city water and sewer services. Cleveland could insist on this in upcoming contracts. Notice that Columbus and Indianapolis are both thriving. We can all win together. In the next decades, as continuing sprawl connects the urban cores into a continuous blurb, it would be a good move to join them all together into 1 entity Why would anyone who went to all the trouble of moving to the suburbs want to be annexed?

  1. If the problems in the cities were fixed, the question becomes ‘why not?’
  2. If merger is a key way to bring resources to bear on fixing the problems, again, the question becomes ‘why not?’
  3. Pride – it’s nice to live in the same city as all the businesses, museums, culture, restaurants, sports, and so on that you patronize.
  4. OPPORTUNITY.   Regional integration has to provide a greater opportunity for everybody than what we currently have living factionally.

Coming up next I’ll be blog about creating OPPORTUNITY here for business and people: · Part 2: How to Bring Businesses and Jobs In? · Part 3: How to Bring People In?

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2 Comments on “On Fixing Cleveland – Part 1: How Can It Be Done?”

  1. eddiemill Says:

    In response to your comment:
    I believe that people will go to farming. It’s both a valid and practical social change. But radical in some places because of the disproportionate scale of change. Skewed younger, it’s what I’m talking about at BU.

    Next year valid plan starting up: http://eddiemill.wordpress.com/plan

  2. Alaina Says:

    Based on this post, I thought you might be interested in the Community Regeneration, Sustainability, and Innovation Act of 2009 (CRSI). This act is tailor made for older industrial cities like Cleveland and Youngstown and would provide them with the resources they need to address the array of issues brought on by de-industrialization. You can read more about the act, the act’s supporters, and what other older industrial cities are doing to rebuild at http://www.rebuildingcitiesthatbuiltamerica.com.


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