Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Shrinking Future: Who Will Move to Youngstown?

Fastforwarding to 2025, Rust Belt population decline is projected to continue. The ranking drop will be steepest in Cleveland and the numbers look dire in Pittsburgh, as well. An aging demographic is a big part of the problem. But the biggest issue is the lack of people moving to shrinking cities:

NCR Corp., a Fortune 500 company, will move its corporate headquarters from Dayton, Ohio, to Duluth, Ga., adding clout to metro Atlanta’s technology reputation. ...

... Relocating to Atlanta — the commercial capital of the Southeast — makes sense for the company.

Four of the cities in Ohio — Youngstown, Canton, Dayton and Cleveland— are among the top 10 dying cities in America, according to an August 2008 report in Forbes.

“They [NCR] can’t recruit talent to move to Dayton, Ohio,” the source said.

It's not just Ohio cities. Ann Arbor, home to the University of Michigan, has trouble shaking the image of industrial wasteland. Companies are following the migration patterns of skilled labor and places like Dayton just aren't on the map.

Unless the Rust Belt can figure out a way to attract workers, the regional economy will continue to erode. In the short term, the best prospects are expatriates. These folks know that there is more to Youngstown than empty homes. But boomerang migration won't be nearly enough, unless the returnees help create jobs and evangelize the opportunities to their contacts.

1 comment:

  1. good post.

    a 15% drop in population in 20 years should be a wake-up call for many.