The good news, he said, is that most small cities are no longer in denial; they have stopped thinking that the industrial era will last forever.
Longworth offered some answers: new technology, including green energy like wind, solar and biofuels; community colleges that teach 21st century skills; communities like Steubenville, Ohio, that are willing to link to big cities, even those like Pittsburgh that are in other states; embracing immigrants and public transportation like high-speed and light rail.
"I'd like to see this Midwest region take a truly regional approach to its problems and solutions," Longworth said. "Some of the Midwest's tired old towns and cities may not survive in any real sense. But those that do won't do it by relying on their own dwindling resources, by staying proud and independent, by refusing cooperation with other towns and cities.
"The Midwest today remains not a singular coherent region but a Balkanized collection of political and economic fiefdoms based on the states. These Midwestern states have everything in common but they are trying to fight this battle on their own, and they are simply too small, too outdated and too parochial to do the job."
Cleveland leadership is still stuck in the industrial era and the surrounding region is being punished as a result of this shortsightedness. On its current track, Cleveland will fail. The stubborn parochial rivalries will make sure of that.