Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Calling All Rust Belt Shrinking Cities

Buffalo has responded, along with an ensuing debate. There is skepticism and cynicism about creating high skill immigration zones in Rust Belt cities. I think Mr. Herman makes a good case (without invoking the Creative Class) for pursuing this policy:

If Cleveland and similarly-situated cities in the U.S. were permitted to seek licensure as a “high skill immigration zone,” technology companies from all over the U.S. (and possibly the world) would consider in a heartbeat to co-locate in the zone: creating new jobs, innovation, tax dollars, etc., if it would ensure their freedom to hire international talent as it wishes. An influx of companies and immigrant tech workers would create a critical mass, and cluster of tech activity, that would begin to organically grow and create new businesses and jobs for American-born.

However, we Rust Belt bloggers could adopt other ventures given the generic interest in collaboration among the social media experts and the rest of us dilettantes. First, we should settle on the geographic scope of the project. I still think Erie is a great place to meet, but other shrinking cities outside of our industrial heartland might want to join the cause, whatever that cause may be. The links between Cleveland, Youngstown, Erie, and Pittsburgh are relatively well established. I think Buffalo is a good fit with this group, but I have a number of ties to Upstate New York.

Another consideration is the benefit for your city of the kind of immigration policy I'd like to advance. I'm confident that Pittsburgh would receive a substantial economic shot in the arm given the existing talent clusters and excellent sources of human capital (e.g. CMU). I'm curious as to what other bloggers think about
Mr. Herman's proposal. And if not high skill immigration zones, what else should we do?


ken thompson said...

hi jim et al.
i am really pleased to see the idea of a rustbelt bloggers conference. the idea of getting de-industrialized/shrinking/weak market/abandoned regions to find common interest in our shared historic plight and possible future has been a long time coming. when we were prosperous, we were all prosperous. its no surprise that older industrial regions are all struggling at the same time all over the word. (folks might want to take a look at
1 ) the core cities project in the uk
2) the brookings project on older industrial cities
3) the core cities project of policylinks
4) the forgotten cities project also at policylink
i am hopeful that ideas and action can be generated that will regenerate our cities and do it in a way that is less wasteful/more respectful of human potential then industrialization was. i also think that the way forward may easily just be found in sharing ang learning from each other,

i would love to see a network of visible hands help pick up what the invisible hand dropped


Frank said...

Very interesting ideas, and I think a rustbelt bloggers conference would be a great idea, especially if it included workshops and experts knowledgeable about the topic of taking ideas and making them happen.

The recent Kennywood flare-up in Pittsburgh (for those who haven't heard, see this Pittsblog article). If rustbelt cities were designated as high-skill immigration zones, I'm certain there would be a backlash from the local population.

Although rustbelt cities have a long history of immigration and backlash, what lessons can we draw that could help ease the transition?

The Blurgh