As posted at Convergence, the Brookings Institution has released the report on revitalizing the economy in the Rust Belt. The region is broadly defined, save including Canada, which presents a data mismatch (at least that is the rationale offered). I support the expanded conceptualization of the mega-region:
The Great Lakes region of the United States is a unique economic, social, and cultural area made up of all or part of 12 states, including the western portions of New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia; northern Kentucky; all of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin; and eastern Minnesota, Iowa, and Missouri. Home to 97 million people, this region is defined by a shared geography and natural resources, a dynamic political and economic history, and strong principles of social organization that together have shaped its growth and development. One of the largest industrial production centers and consumer marketplaces in the world, this highly urbanized “mega-region” is a vital global hub of economic activity and growth.
The report buys into the understanding of 10 mega-regions in the United States. The Great Lakes area is culturally Midwest with economic activity along the corridors of I-70 and I-80. The Brookings report indicates that a transmegapolitan identity could be cultivated thanks to a shared geography.
Lagging behind the apparent economic integration and cultural affinity is the political infrastructure. Brookings is calling for political cooperation among the many regions with ties to the Great Lakes. I'm not optimistic that the interregional cooperation is forthcoming given the lack of intraregional consolidation in the Rust Belt. "Merely" coordinating the large number of political entities of Allegheny County looks like mission impossible.