Monday, September 01, 2008

Yes Yo Can

A big problem facing the Rust Belt is each city spending a lot of resources fighting with other shrinking cities for the economic spoils leftover in this cul-de-sac of globalization. We hear too much about jobs going China and brains moving to the Sun Belt. Missing is all the action going on within the region. Consider this story about an alternative energy business located in Michigan:

The state's rejection led [Mariah Power founder and CEO Mike Hess] to consider other manufacturing options, including what he said was a $1.8 million zero-interest loan commitment from Youngstown, Ohio, officials. But he wants to keep the project in Manistee.

"I really like the community. (It) has impressed me to no end," he said. "But in the end, I still have to make the best economic choice for the company."

I speculate that Youngstown is ready to take a risk that Michigan is unwilling or unable to embrace. Mr. Hess may be trying to squeeze a better deal out of Michigan and I don't blame him for trying. But he's appealing to a state-centric jingoism that is counterproductive.

Cities within the region that are ready to take on certain risks should win the business. Corporations needn't pick up and move to another country or another region. There is enough geographic variation within the Rust Belt to support just about any economic niche. Right now, Youngstown has its ducks in a row and is ready to help you grow your own company.

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