Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Geography Of Globalization In Youngstown

What does a local geography of globalization look like? One obvious example is evidence of an international workforce. One neighborhood park in the city of my residence has a cricket pitch, indicative of all the South Asians with jobs at companies throughout the region. But there is a more important pattern that reveals the lack of integration into the global economy:

Gene Krebs, co-director of the anti-sprawl group Greater Ohio, said Columbus' growth has created an illusion that everything is fine when the city's core continues to hollow out with vacant and abandoned houses.

This regional doughnut shape is a lousy interface with globalization and the dominant knowledge economy. Thus all the interest in revitalizing downtowns. I don't think greater numbers of urban dwellers is all that important. On the other hand, the more bodies in the central business district the better. This is why I think you should consider Eric Planey's vision for Youngstown:

The reason I want to discuss my quality of life position is twofold. The first of which is that it is important for many to understand that certain intangibles in a community matter for economic development. And this certainly includes a flourishing arts community and a pedestrian-emphasized downtown corridor. It includes items such as bike trails that can connect New Castle to Lowellville to downtown Youngstown to Mill Creek Park to Canfield. I am amazed that in New York City, a city of 15 million people in a closed-in space, there are more bike-only dedicated trails than there are in the Valley. Connecting YSU, downtown Youngstown, and Mill Creek Park would create a golden triangle that other cities could only dream of having. Having bike trails in place is the most cost-effective and immediate bridge to such a connection. How cool would it be to get on your bike in Austintown, hook a left into Mill Creek Park, and to work up a thirst for an ice latte that can be quenched at an outdoor cafe on Federal Street? It is possible.

Youngstown has a number of remarkable assets that predispose the city to take advantage of the opportunities that globalization offers. The university is a stone's throw away from a compact and surprisingly active downtown. Mill Creek Park is truly an urban treasure and only lacks connectivity with the central business district. What Eric is proposing would increase the concentration of brains in the city core and more effectively plug Youngstown into the international community, a gateway to the Mahoning Valley.

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