Monday, May 21, 2007

Good News From Brookings: Akron Economy Less Sucky than Other Ohio Cities.

The Plain Dealer covers a new Brookings Institute study about revitalizing old industrial cities. In the report Brookings spotlights the 65 "least prosperous" cities, eight of which are in Ohio.

    In a report to be released today, the Brookings Institution concludes that Cleveland, Canton, Cincinnati, Dayton, Mansfield, Springfield, Warren and Youngstown are among the nation's least-prosperous big cities.
The good news: Akron isn't on the list (and kudos to the PD for running this down).
    Jennifer S. Vey, a senior research associate, said Akron's economic performance improved enough to join 16 older cities that dropped off the list from 1990 to 2000. Lorain's overall economic performance was strong enough that it didn't make the list, Vey said by e-mail.
The study ranked cities on two criteria: Economic Condition and Residential Well-Being. For the record, of the 302 cities studies, Akron ranked 217 in economic condition and 183 in residential well-being.

I've been meaning to respond to Highland Square Gadfly Lady whom Village Green quoted at length trashing Akron city government.
    I discovered most of the federal HUD Community Development Block Grants have been spent on street and side walk improvements, land acquisition and demolition and administration. Only 5% is spent on programs like senior and youth services and a mere .73% on fair housing activities. Our streets are important, but only a fraction of the grants went to housing and social services. The city's economic development policies are not working and people are leaving Akron in droves, our population is just over 200,000.
I suspect that HSGL is wrong regarding much of her assessment of how Akron spends HUD money and she is certainly wrong in the implication that the road to economic prosperity is paved with more social service spending. But what really got me was the claim that Akron's economic difficulties prove the administration's development policies "are not working." Anyone paying attention knows that Akron is doing better than most similarly situated cities -- the only measure that comes close to making sense. The Brookings report confirms the impression.

Meanwhile, the Brookings Report has some interesting ideas that, according to the PD article, are consistent with how Strickland plans to move forward.


Jason Haas said...

Gee, wonder who HSGL is? And no, social services won't make us prosperous. And yes, Akron could easily be Flint. Funny how often people like HSGL don't recognize that truth.