West Michigan? Not anymore. Greater Chicagoland might be a better moniker in the global economy, Richard Longworth told the Economic Club of Grand Rapids Monday.
Besides, why claim the state's stigma?
"West Michigan has more to do with Chicago than it does with Detroit or even Lansing," said Longworth, a veteran journalist and senior fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.
"Globalization couldn't care less about state lines drawn two centuries ago.
"The Midwest states have everything in common, but they're trying to fight this battle on their own. We're basically one economy and we should be working together."
I'm still not convinced that a Great Lakes Economic Initiative could work or that there is a cohesive Midwestern identity that would pave the way for fruitful collaboration. But I buy the idea of Greater Chicagoland.
Greater Chicagoland, as I would define it, is the geographic extent that the global urban economy of Chicago generates enough trust to begin abating destructive competition (zero sum economic development). Civic Analytics puts it in more digestable terms:
Robert Denson and Paul Gregoire, co-chairs of the regional strategy in Central Iowa, hit the mark: "We just don't have the people and resources within our individual jurisdictions to compete. No single community or county in Iowa does."
Refocusing that perspective on the Tech Belt, each participating community should be asking what the greater region allows it to do that it otherwise could not. How could Pittsburgh benefit from better connectivity with Youngstown, Akron or Cleveland?