Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Update: Global Midwest Initiative

Thanks to an e-mail from Richard Herman, I have an update on Richard Longworth's Global Midwest Initiative:

In addition to the annual conference, the Global Midwest Initiative will publish a monograph series -- the Heartland Papers -- that will delve deeply into the challenges and opportunities of globalization and will be presented to local policymakers and leaders at seminars and conferences across the Midwest. A Global Midwest Web site also will provide a forum for sharing knowledge, making connections, and facilitating the growth of a virtual Midwest online community. The Initiative will tackle a variety of issues such as infrastructure, transportation and high speed rail, emerging industries, rural Internet access, energy, education, and immigration.

The list of issues to be discussed will interest most Rust Belt bloggers. By way of example, consider the growing competition between Michigan and Ohio. At the conference, Richard Longworth and others explored this mega-regional shortcoming:

Globalization presents the Midwest with regional challenges. All global problems – economic and social – affect all Midwestern states more or less equally. But each state tries to cope on its own – and each state is too small, weak and parochial to meet a challenge this big. Globalization sweeps across national and state borders as though they don’t exist. But in the Midwest, state border effectively block the regional cooperation that is key to success. State universities dominate all thinking: state governments dominate all policy. Academics and practitioners who are experts on their own states are often working in isolation of counterparts thinking through similar problems of neighboring states. Cities and states compete with each other for investment, when the real competition is 10,000 miles away. This session will sum up the challenges of globalization and ask how the Midwest can meet them on a regional basis.

The leaders in both Ohio and Michigan should pay close attention to this narrative. In particular, Ohio's misunderstanding of the challenges facing its citizens is most egregious. We need more open discussion about globalization and I expect bloggers to step up in order to fill that void (see GLUE).

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