Sunday, February 15, 2009

Urban Pairs: Cincinnati-Dayton

Continuing my dialog with Pittsblog, Chris Briem sees a lot of similarities between Cincinnati's Regional Action Plan and the visioning currently going on in Pittsburgh. Two of the geographic analogs are the multi-state influence of Cincinnati and a nearby urban partner for innovation:

Although Agenda 360 was designed to focus on the four counties of Southwest Ohio, its scope is by nature much broader reaching across the river into Kentucky and Indiana as well as north into Dayton. ...

... Population has exploded along the Interstate 75 corridor in the last decade. From 2002-2007, Butler County saw a 28 percent increase in its population and Warren County saw 17 percent growth. And businesses are following the people. The U.S. Census Bureau projects the 15-county Cincinnati/Middletown/Northern Kentucky metropolitan statistical area will merge with the Dayton MSA by 2013.

From this growth comes opportunity. The Cincinnati-Dayton region has the potential to be a nationwide leader in commercializing technology, due in large part to the state of Ohio's Third Frontier Program.

The work of Agenda 360 suggests that Cincinnati and Dayton create an "innovation hub" centered in Warren and Butler counties. Such a hub would accelerate the collaboration between Cincinnati and Dayton and foster technology-led economic development by attracting and retaining investment, entrepreneurs and innovative companies.

Before The Urbanophile accuses me of supporting the mating of two urban economic dinosaurs, I think Cincinnati's plan is lacking a clear connection to the world city network. At least, I didn't notice any express mention of such in the "expanding of the circle." Conceivably, Cincinnati-Dayton could connect to Chicago via Indianapolis or DC/NYC through Pittsburgh. I suspect that a direct link to a global urban power is unfeasible. An interesting debate would be figuring which second-tier Rust Belt city would be the better go-between.

Briem asks if Cincinnati is "a competitor, collaborator, both, or neither?" I'd say it is a kindred spirit, a place that could be studied in order to inform better policy for Cleveburgh. There are possible synergies to explore and any increasing connectivity between these two urban riparian treasures would benefit both regions.

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