Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cleveland Envy in Pittsburgh

The greatest beneficiary of increased connectivity between Cleveland and Pittsburgh is the Mahoning Valley. That's why the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber is promoting high-speed rail between the two big cities. That's why the driving force behind the Tech Belt Initiative is Congressman Tim Ryan. Youngstown is the capital of Cleveburgh.

But I would caution against highlighting all the similarities of the cities in this urban corridor as a way to breathe life into this economic region. Better to think of how they compliment each other:

I have a confession to make: I like Cleveland. Take it back, I love Cleveland. Maybe it's the New Girl in me and the inherent immunity to old rivalries with Pittsburgh, but I find the city by the lake to be charming and happening at the same time. Granted, some of Cleveland's assets do meet their equals in Pittsburgh: they have the Rock Hall, a terrific single-subject museum, but we have the Warhol, arguably one of the best single-artist museums in the world. While the Cleveland Botanical Garden has more colorful butterflies than we can shake a stick at, our butterflies at the Phipps flitted about the G-20 heads of state just last month and whereas the Ritz-Carlton Cleveland has received an impressive face-lift and is loveliness defined, we will debut a sleek Fairmont in a glass-walled tower come springtime. And while we best them in many areas, they have the Cavs with LeBron and Shaq, not to menton a Great Lake. Nothing we can do about that. So where is Cleveland really eating our lunch?

The point of the article is for Pittsburgh to learn from what Cleveland does well. I say just drive north and sample the delights. There is a lot of talk about emulating Pittsburgh's renaissance. But Cleveland must reinvent itself in its own way, leveraging its unique assets. I appreciate that I can get a different flavor in each of the Tech Belt cities.

What is the Cleveland model of revitalization?

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