Sunday, August 30, 2009

Youngstown Diaspora: View From Evansville, Indiana

Reading the missive of president and CEO of the Regional Chamber Tom Humphries about relegating James Traficant to the past, I can see how far the Mahoning Valley has come over the last five years. Concerning the expatriate perspective, Youngstown still has a lot of work to do:

Allentown has largely rebounded through private investment, nurturing entrepeneurship and diversifying its economy. Youngstown is showing some signs of rebirth, but it is largely driven by public — not private — investment. A visit to the city in July showed that it still has a long way to go to recover the vibrance I saw there as a child.

I realize that Sean Safford's book, referenced in the opinion piece, is a sore point. Furthermore, the Youngstown native is asking Evansville, Indiana to choose between the paths of his hometown and that of Allentown, PA. However, the thread tying all the narratives together is the burying of the past. That includes the "vibrance" of yesteryear.

There are a number of Rust Belt communities, such as Evansville, that are well behind Youngstown. What Safford celebrates in Allentown is now happening in Youngstown. This is what congressman Tim Ryan represents and why Traficant is now an amusing anachronism.

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