Youngstown, like Allentown, is close in proximity to major cities. “But unlike Philadelphia and D.C., Cleveland and Pittsburgh are also [depressed] rust belt cities,” [Bill Lawson, the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s executive director,] says. “They just don’t have the economic power to influence Youngstown.”
I don't entirely agree with Mr. Lawson's assessment, but I understand his point. There isn't enough economic development in either Cleveland or Pittsburgh to spillover into the Mahoning Valley. I think this shortcoming highlights the need for inter-regional cooperation. If Cleveburgh cities could act in concert, instead of competing, then Youngstown could make the economic transition more quickly.
Youngstown State University (YSU) is the keystone to economic connectivity between Cleveland and Pittsburgh:
YSU is constantly looking for ways to offer added value to products made by local manufacturers, he said, pointing to ties with the local aluminum extrusion business, one of the largest in the country, as an example.
The university is also looking to step into the “tech belt” between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, a goal being pushed by U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th, Humphries said.
YSU opened its College of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics last fall, developing the STEM program as a way to address the future economic well-being of the region, state and nation. School officials said at the time that it was important to align academic programs to address those growing fields.
If the fortunes do indeed flip for the Cleveburgh Corridor, the Allentown lesson teaches us that cities such as Johnstown, Erie, and Buffalo would benefit. And what NYC and Philadelphia are doing for Rust Belt cities in Eastern Pennsylvania, Chicago is not doing for Rust Belt cities in Eastern Ohio. In fact, I suspect that Washington, DC asserts a greater positive influence. I recommend splitting the Great Lakes Union into two mega-regions: Upper Great Lakes and Lower Great Lakes. I believe Cleveburgh could be the center of the Lower Great Lakes Economic Initiative. Chicago is the obvious center for the Upper Great Lakes Economic Initiative. But that's merely my Cleveburgh-centric perspective.