Monday, October 23, 2006

Integration Pittsburgh

The Convergence blog spotlights a mega-region (25+ million people) development project that includes Pittsburgh. The Brookings Institution is spearheading the Great Lakes Economic Initiative. The centerpiece innovation is fostering a new geographic identity, the Great Lakes MegaRegion. The map to the right is the result of the debate to define the boundaries.

The defining characteristic of this mega-region is the industrial urban center struggling to transition to the emerging knowledge economy. Chicago is the glaring exception and serves as the gateway to other mega-regions around the world.

Excluded are the working class towns of Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse. The argument is that these cities are tied to the Northeast MegaRegion, with New York sitting atop the urban hierarchy. A line was also drawn at the Canadian border because of the incongruent data available. Toronto is a global city on par with Chicago and the surrounding Canadian hinterlands share the struggles of the Rust Belt. I would welcome a transnational conception of the Great Lakes mega-region.

Of interest to this blog are the number of diasporas emanating from this area. People from places such as Cleveland, Buffalo and Detroit are scattered all over the country seeking economic opportunity. The story should sound familiar to Pittsburgh, many cities facing the same plight. There is a wealth of human capital for this mega-region to tap and we have the technological means to do so.

I like the sound of it: The Great Lakes MegaRegion Diaspora Project.

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