Monday, June 29, 2009

Strategically Located: Youngstown

I've convinced that Pittsburgh is positioned for an economic boom. Part of the Pittsburgh advantage is its proximity to DC, along with the strong connectivity with that region. When talent leaves the Burgh, it tends to turn up in DC. Tyler Clark, one of Youngstown's urban pioneers, mentions the strategic geography of the Mahoning Valley:

Yesterday, however, was my favorite day. We host a semi-regular potluck at our house for friends and neighbors, and yesterday we welcomed a new couple to town. They bought a couple of duplexes (duplices?) on the West side and are fixing them up to rent out. They are coming from Berkeley, where they looked around the country for the most affordable and excellent places to live, picking Youngstown from their short list for its centrality to great locations like Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago and New York.

Shrinking cities need to do a better job of understanding their geographic assets. Locational advantages are, by definition, unique. Youngstown could better leverage its proximity and connectivity to Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

Congressman Tim Ryan articulates the opportunity for the Steel Valley:

The hope is that Forum participants recognize the talents and skills of the people in Youngstown and the Mahoning Valley, said Mayor Jay Williams. “There‘s no reason we can‘t play as prominent a role in the next emerging technology and this economy as we did prior, when it came to steel and manufacturing,” he said.

In his remarks, Williams envisioned a gathering of the Valley’s government, business and scientific community a hundred years ago, during which they discussed the industry that eventually came to define the area -- steel. A century later, leaders are gathering to discuss another industry, sustainable energy, that hopefully will come to define this area. “We know that we have the skill. We know that we have the talent,” the mayor said.

Ryan recalled a scene form one of his favorite movies, Apollo 13, when the contents of the damaged spacecraft are spilled onto a table and the head of mission control tells those assembled they must figure out “how to squeeze every ounce of energy out of that ship” so they can bring the astronauts home.

“That’s what areas like ours are doing, too,” Ryan said. “We are taking advantage of every ounce of energy that we have, from Cleveland to Akron to Youngstown to Pittsburgh, and we’re squeezing it out and we’re going to utilize it."

When I look at the map of the Greater Youngstown Diaspora, I see Cleveburgh. There is a lot of Youngstown energy in Akron, Cleveland, and Pittsburgh. Those communities are part of Greater Youngstown. Time to throw a downtown party and invite them to come.

1 comment:

  1. I think this is a great idea! Mnay people from the Valley head there for entertainment. Time to start putting our dollars here and pulling thiers here too!