Thursday, October 23, 2008

Economic Corridor Diaspora

The Urbanophile offers another one of his tour de force blog posts about Indianapolis (and Indiana) economic development. There is almost too much to unpack in his rich narrative, but I hone in on his proposed geography:

In that regard, Indiana needs to adopt metro-centric thinking in how it develops economic development strategies. Conveniently, there is already an organizational concept that more or less maps this out. It is called the BEA economic area, and it is effectively the extended economic “solar system” of a city. This would map the state into seven regions, each of which should create a regional economic development strategy and look to stimulate economic growth in the periphery through closer linkages to the core. In that geography, Indiana would be made up of seven basic regions:
  • Chicago (Northwest Indiana)
  • South Bend/Mishawaka/Elkhart (extends into Michigan)
  • Fort Wayne (includes a Michigan County, but should probably also be expanded to Ohio)
  • Indianapolis (which includes part of east central Illinois). This is clearly the largest and most important in Indiana, and includes half the state’s population, including Richmond, Terre Haute, Marion, Kokomo, Bloomington, Lafayette, Anderson, Muncie, and Columbus.
  • Evansville (includes part of Kentucky and Illinois)
  • Louisville (Southern Indiana)
  • Cincinnati (Southeastern Indiana)

I don't know enough about the economic geography of Indiana to comment, but there are remarkable similarities to my Cleveburgh project. The goal is to figure and then cultivate the optimal region for development, thereby overcoming the drag of the Rust Belt legacy. Via Janko, you can track the progress of the Tech Belt:

Northeast Ohio and Western Pennsylvania together constitute one of the 20 megapolitans. Nelson and Lang call it the “Steel Corridor,” a name which evokes the region’s proud past but unfortunately does not point to a promising future. Congressman Tim Ryan and his colleague in Western Pennsylvania, Jason Altmire of Aliquippa, have coined a more future-oriented name, the “Tech Belt.”

The Steel Corridor/Tech Belt is home to 7.1 million people. It is larger that Ohio’s other megapolitan, the “Ohio Valley,” anchored by Columbus and Cincinnati (5.3 million) and is the same scale as the “Carolina Piedmont,” anchored by Charlotte and Raleigh (7.0 million), the “Georgia Piedmont,” surrounding Atlanta (6.9 million), the “Florida Corridor” linking Tampa and Orlando (7.8 million), and the “Greater Metroplex” of Dallas-Ft. Worth and Oklahoma City (7.9 million)

Despite its impressive scale, the Steel Corridor/Tech Belt is projected to remain the nation’s slowest growing megapolitan and the least likely to benefit from the nation’s projected population growth.

Go here for more information on the work of Nelson and Lang.

Still surfing the impressive wake of PodCamp Pittsburgh, I want the social media wonks in the Tech Belt to help breathe life into this interstate mega-region. I think the links between the social media communities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh could easily plug into to what is going on in Youngstown.

Concerning economic development, the Cleveland+Pittsburgh+Youngstown Regional Learning Network appears ready to serve as the center of gravity for our new geography. I can get my belly behind Beer to Bikeways. I envision regional bloggers championing a project, using their expertise to make the initiative a success. Making these megapolitan links will give our area a first mover advantage and attract talent from other cities interested in breaking new ground.

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