Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Don't Blame NAFTA

Blame Girard Mayor James Melfi. Blame the parochialism retarding economic development throughout the entire Rust Belt. If the Mahoning Valley continues to struggle, then the residents and leadership are at fault. If the region is to move forward, more cooperation between political entities is needed:

GSP is being paid $100,000 for the project, which is expected to be completed in early 2010, confirmed Chris Thompson, spokesman for Fund for Our Economic Future, a collaboration of foundations and individuals in the Cleveland region. Other supporters include the Youngstown-Warren Regional Chamber and Greater Cleveland Partnership, and the Allegheny Conference on Economic Development.

All are members of the Tech Belt Initiative, co-chaired by the Allegheny Conference, based Downtown, and the Raymond John Wean Foundation, based in Warren, Ohio. The initiative was formed last fall to reinvigorate the Cleveland to Pittsburgh region by building on collaborative efforts.

“We were hired to work with a number of technology organizations to identify a number of key areas the regions can come together around,” said Rich Overmoyer, GSP principal and director of its economic architecture practice.

The project GSP Consulting is working on is one to watch. But the Mahoning Valley seems unlikely to benefit, despite Congressman Tim Ryan's best efforts, as long as communities such as Girard continue to act out of fear. I am amazed how the status quo trumps a jump into an uncertain future at every turn.

A lot of lip-service is paid to various regional initiatives. Nothing seems to come of any of them. The Regional Visioning Project appears to be stillborn, flushing millions of dollars down the drain in the process. What can we do differently this time around?


  1. Granted we do not know the whole 'behind the door' facts, but you are spot on here. If Girard is holding out for an 11th hour deal for its City, great. But c'mon, lets not perpetuate the past view - wouldn't it be great if the V&M deal went through without a hiccup? Gee, maybe additional development would catch. A spark has been lit, let's fan the flame for continued develpoment in Mahoning Valley.

  2. I spent some time yesterday thinking about Melfi's rationale for his actions. The problem is that his version of events conflict with the material facts of the deal. Regardless, his brinkmanship is shortsighted. He's muddying the waters for future deals, which does his city no favors.