Friday, July 25, 2008

Rust Belt Rescaling

I'm tracking the diffusion of the PolicyLink report about the assets of smaller US industrial cities. Thus far, the news splash is minimal. Toledo hones in on the success of Youngtown's 2010 redevelopment plan. Scranton, like Youngstown, takes a bow for being one of the models for successful urban policy:

“To Be Strong Again: Renewing the Promise in Smaller Industrial Cities,” highlights Scranton’s parks, specifically how Mayor Chris Doherty financed recent improvements to Nay Aug Park.

Its author, Radhika Fox, is an associate director at PolicyLink, a research group based in Oakland, Calif.

Ms. Fox, an urban planner by trade, said the report isn’t meant to be scientific or quantitative. Its conclusions about Scranton are drawn solely from interviews with Mr. Doherty.

But she said the findings are useful for politicians, policy makers and community leaders.

“What we were trying to do with this report is lift up what is working in these cities,” Ms. Fox said.

Cumberland and Hagerstown, MD are also enjoying the positive spotlight. However, the hope for this report is to generate some inter-urban dialog:

The report goes on to tease out some quantitative and qualitative differences between small and large cities, and detail a number of promising, scale-appropriate development strategies, with case studies, that can lead to equitable (i.e. including everyone, not just a small slice of tech workers) renewal.

It is by no means a final word, but I (not surprisingly) think it's worth a read. I'd love to have the Capital Region join the conversation around it, here or over at PolicyLink's EquityBlog.

GlobalErie's Peter Panepento has done a great job turning his blog network into a nexus of public debate. Peter is asking readers how to apply the lesson articulated in the PolicyLink report to Erie. I think this is a promising forum for other city boosters of smaller industrial cities to chime in and generate a mega-regional conversation. We could do something similar over at Rust Belt Bloggers or EquityBlog, but I recommend taking advantage of the constructive exchange that Peter has engendered.

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