Monday, November 03, 2008

Cleveburgh: Regional Identity Update

EdPro has the scoop on a regional initiative for the area where three states come together: Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky:

The Summit will gather together community leaders from the 26 county region to address current economic issues, future opportunities for growth, and the transformations necessary to achieve vitality and prosperity. The focus for the anticipated 1,000 attendees is to inform, assess and envision what the future may hold for the Southwest Ohio River Valley Region.

Interstate regionalization appears to be gaining momentum in the Rust Belt. The Tech Belt (a.k.a. Chris Briem's "Cleveburgh") is now more than just an idea. Read more about the Tech Belt Initiative here. Also, be sure to check out the website for the Regional Learning Network.

The PNC buyout of National City is the mega-region's first major controversy, but more indicative of an even bigger conception of a coherent region that stretches far west of Cleveburgh:

Despite the controversy, the deal makes some sense for customers and employees of National City in Indiana, said Bart Narter, senior vice president of the banking group at San Francisco-based consulting firm Celent.

There is virtually zero branch overlap, since National City has 178 branches in the state, and PNC has only eight, in southern Indiana. National City has the second-most Indianapolis-area branches with 77, behind J.P. Morgan Chase’s 91. The bank has 1,400 employees locally. ...

... Despite speculation that another bank still might swoop in and offer more for National City, Narter doubts such a move. And other analysts, including those at Standard & Poor’s, agree that complications that could derail the deal are unlikely.

“Banks are not dying to get into the hot growth markets of Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana,” Narter said, sarcastically. “The world isn’t beating the door down to establish branch networks in the Rust Belt.”

Indiana is emerging as the battleground between the Rust Belt's big 3 urban centers: Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh. I don't see Chicago as a player for these economic table scraps. They have bigger fish to fry as a global city. Detroit and Michigan has John Austin as the center of gravity for a mega-regional initiative. But Southeast Michigan can't quite match the renaissance of Pittsburgh:

It’s been said that if our region is to grow and take its place among the great business environments, we must realize that Pittsburgh is competing, not just with other regions in the US, but with the whole world. To do that, business people need the tools and the voice. That’s why Pittsburgh Renaissance Radio is here.

I bring up Pittsburgh Renaissance Radio because it is indicative of the energy in the city that defies articulation. Whether or not Pittsburgh will embrace a mega-regional leadership role remains to be seen, but the potential is there. The city's ability to rally even Southwestern Pennsylvania is still in serious question. Regardless, I expect Pittsburgh to follow the Minneapolis trajectory. Alpha global city isn't in the cards, but the second tier of urban globalization is wide open.

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