Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Zero-Sum Thinking in Northeast Ohio

Cleveland is not the entirety of Northeast Ohio (NEO). A better definition of Cleveland is a cul-de-sac of globalization. Team NEO's recent Cleveland show-and-tell spells out the entrenchment of parochial politics and the lip service paid regionalization. Even more distressing is the following comment:

To distinguish its red-carpet tours, Team NEO crafts attention-grabbing invitations. For the tour during the Rock Hall's induction weekend, invitees received small guitar cases with invitations tucked inside.

"We are competing for these jobs against Indianapolis, Detroit, Pittsburgh," said Team NEO's Carin Rockind, vice president of marketing and communications. "We have to break through."

Does NEO include Youngstown or not? Is the Tech Belt Initiative dead on arrival? There is considerable overlap in talent and opportunities between Cleveland and Pittsburgh. Nowhere is that more evident than in Youngstown. But Cleveland-centric Team NEO fails to understand this geography. No wonder Richard Longworth characterized Cleveland as a hopeless casualty of globalization:

In all my travels through the Midwest, Cleveland was the only place, big or small, that seemed heedless of the global challenge. Only 4 percent of its population is foreign-born, in an era that demands new blood; the city government isn’t sure it wants more. One of its leading economists told me, ‘You can’t kill manufacturing–that’s stupid,’ but manufacturing is fleeing and cities need new ways to support themselves. In an era of global connectivity, only one non-stop per day, to England, links Cleveland to the world. The first-rate Cleveland Clinic is expanding, but every Midwestern city is building up its health industry: few expect it to carry the city’s economy.

Team NEO, like Cleveland, is heedless of the global challenge. It also seems ignorant of the challenges facing its regional satellite cities. At least, that's what the comment about Pittsburgh suggests. That kind of zero-sum thinking is what will continue to kill economic development in Northeast Ohio.

1 comment:

Scott Fullerton said...

It's posts like these that remind you of the gigantic failure of the Cleveland Plus PR machine. It was a valant idea but never had any teeth to it. As a business and marketing professional myself, I always thought that just maybe Cleveland would think of it's city to the East, but it's the continual land of forgotten toys, no one wants to come play.