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monsoon

Selling the Rust Belt Short

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This is an interesting article concerning many Ohio & Michigan cities. Is it really that bad there?

Yes.

Michigan doesn't have many real vibrant, growing urban centers. Grand Rapids is growing, albeit very slowly. The city's borders cannot be expanded, so the population is pretty much stuck at 200,000. There is a significant amount of renewal downtown, with tons of warehouses being renovated into lofts. This contributes some to the city's population, but not much. Ann Arbor is also growing. In fact, Ann Arbor is the only city that I'd consider to be thriving.

Detroit, Flint, and Saginaw have all suffered from massive job loss and failure to diversify their economies. Decayed downtowns, horrible urban school systems, and very high crime rates only make things worse. New jobs are not coming to replace the jobs lost, leaving people unemployed, hence our higher than average unemployment rates.

If you looked at Michigan's current population growth by area, you'd notice that we are just shifting people from place to place (mostly from city to suburbs). There isn't any significant growth. In fact, it is so bad that the Detroit metro has seen only about 1.2% growth over 2000. That is just enough growth to account for the new babies born in the region.

Currently, what is happening is that Michigan is experiencing a massive brain drain because there are no new good paying jobs being created. Since 2000, Michigan has lost 30,000+ college educated young people.

The state is trying, without much sucess to retain manufacturing jobs here. At the same time, they are trying to attract high tech industries, but that has not been very sucessful either. The costs of doing business in Michigan are higher than other places in the U.S., especially southern cities. So Michigan continues to loose out to the sunbelt.

Similar situations are occuring throughout the rustbelt, especially in Ohio, where 40,000 college educated people have left since 2000.

I could go on and on...but I won't. I will say this: Without many significant changes, this will continue in the future.

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The final triumph of organized labor? Sad but all three states are "labor friendly", and good for them, but then bigAuto goes and opens Saturn plants in Kentucky and Alcoa and Heinz opens up plants across the oceans.

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Michigan doesn't have many real vibrant, growing urban centers. Grand Rapids is growing, albeit very slowly. The city's borders cannot be expanded, so the population is pretty much stuck at 200,000. There is a significant amount of renewal downtown, with tons of warehouses being renovated into lofts. This contributes some to the city's population, but not much. Ann Arbor is also growing. In fact, Ann Arbor is the only city that I'd consider to be thriving.

I would say that Grand Rapids is thriving. Sure the city is growing slowly, but it is locked and generally a small area. However, a recent DDA housing study calls for 350 new downtown housing units per year for the next five years - at least. That is a lot, they also call for 13,000 more for Grand Rapids.

However, the large growth area in Grand Rapids is not on the extreme fringe as it is in these dead cities. Many of the inner ring suburbs are still experiencing tremendous growth. Kentwood is adding thousands of homes, same for Wyoming and Grandville. Those suburbs are tied directly to Grand Rapids. I will be worried when I start to see a lot of internal decline and more movement away from the city, but it is not happening.

In terms of metro area, it cannot be argued that at 42% growth since 1970 Grand Rapids is doing just fine. Actually per population it is growing four times faster than metro Detroit.

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You know, you're right. I wonder what I was thinking when I wrote that bit, lol. BTW, Welcome to the forum!

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Interesting though that the Rust Belt--Western Pa., Ohio, West Virginia's mills in Morgantown and Wheeling and Wierton and Michigan are all "battleground states", all states which could go either way, so this region is definetly in "flux" positioning itself for something better i hope!

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