Friday, September 05, 2008

Cleveburgh must wait

Several ways to look at this. Ohio has put out a long awaited new strategic plan to advance economic development in the state. Sounds like a good idea, but one goal is for Ohio to achieve job growth at a rate 25% above any of its neighboring states. Those would include Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia and ...... well, you know. In fact the lead measures (see page 6) are all defined by just doing better than those other 4 states and Pennsylvania.

Should those really be the goals for any state? I suppose Ohio could achieve that if things just went to hell in a handbasket in those bordering states, Pennsylvania included. Would that really be success? Not exactly a mega-regional view of economic development in that. It sounds a lot like something I once argued against, namely tax competition as we know it. There has to be a better way than what we do now and I am not sure what Ohio is thinking of is really anything different. It has a few different tactics in there, including greater emphasis on workforce, innovation zones and related things. That's good, but remember, the biggest flows of migration both into and out of Pittsburgh always include Cleveland and several other Ohio regions. That type of workforce integration works across all the metropolitan and micropolitan regions through out Ohio and its neighbors. So I am not quite sure what it means to aim for greater job growth than the neighbors you are most integrated with. Maybe the goal ought to be a strategy that improves conditions across the greater region. Anything less and it has to devolve into some form of Russian roulette. Why try to take economic growth away from.... yourself?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the Mehrabian report, where regions that we considered competitors didn't see us as competitors at all. Part of the reason for that view was that Pgh was not much of a factor at the time in site selection decisions. But it also had to do with other regions not having a scarcity mentality. Creating value builds a bigger pie; defining enemies may rouse the local troops, but it does little to open up new opporunities.

Friday, September 05, 2008 9:03:00 AM  
Blogger Burgher Jon said...

It seems to me that Cleveland should want Pittsburgh to exceed, but only to the point that it's success is necessary for their region. I'm sure Cleveland would rather see 130% growth and 100% in Pittsburgh. Is that not a good way of looking at things?

I agree that hoping for 0% growth and -20% in Pittsburgh is a bad thing, but I don't disagree with the strategy of trying to become a leader in the new megatropolis.

Friday, September 05, 2008 9:13:00 AM  
Blogger The Urbanophile said...

Mega-regionalism aside, this was a weak strategic plan. I realize it is a hybrid document: a plan for the development department and a plan for the state's economy, but most of the items were fairly generic and the recommendations very similar to what I've seen elsewhere. It wasn't clear to me, except in limited situations, how any of this moves the ball forward.

What's more, the number one recommendation is around perception. The plan seems to imply that Ohio's biggest problem is the way it is perceived. I'd say more likely that the rest of the world perceives Ohio pretty correctly. While marketing is all well and good, I did not see any indication here, or elsewhere, that the state's leadership is facing up to the challenge and speaking hard truths to the citizens of Ohio.

I think Strickland has it in him. He did a pretty good job with ODOT, for example. But on the economy, what's needed isn't a cheerleader, it is someone who can make the case for probably painful, disruptive structural change.

Friday, September 05, 2008 10:36:00 AM  

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