Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Buffalo Urban Laboratory

Ed Morrison over at Brewed Fresh Daily posted links to a number of interesting stories. All of them are excellent blog fodder, but the article about Buffalo is most relevant to my own crusade:

The idea that Buffalo could become a national laboratory dedicated to solving the vacant-housing crisis has its roots in Blueprint Buffalo, a two-year-old report developed by a team of experts and now touted by City Hall and local leaders.

Schilling gave new life to the proposal last month with a published article, “Buffalo as the Nation’s First Living Laboratory for Reclaiming Vacant Properties.” ...

... Supporters say the creation of a one-of-a-kind living lab would bring with it national talent and expertise, the likes of which Buffalo is not likely to have access to otherwise.

This vision for Buffalo is what I have in mind for Youngstown. Instead of studying the vacant properties problem, Youngstown would be a living laboratory for dealing with economic globalization. Youngstown is already attracting scholars from domestic and foreign universities. Of all the struggling Rust Belt cities, Youngstown strikes me as the least risk averse and potential hotbed for urban policy innovation.

As for Pittsburgh, I'm hoping my favorite city will be a living laboratory managing brain drain. The presence of Rand places enough talent in the region to make it the center of talent migration research. Also, Pittsburgh's impressive Diaspora makes for a best case scenario for the success of an urban alumni initiative that takes advantage of increasing geographic mobility, instead of fighting the flow.

At the other end of Cleveburgh, Richard Herman is the center of gravity for a living laboratory designed to figure out how to attract more immigrants. Mr. Herman has already advanced a few policy innovations garnering national attention. However, both Cleveland and Pittsburgh are much more risk averse. Getting stakeholders in either city on board won't be easy.

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