Midwest Memo: Illinois Residents Move Away, Columbus Seeks Revived Art Landscape, Pontiac Selling Its Assets

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Pontiac selling off properties. The financially troubled city of Pontiac, Michigan, is selling most of its assets. An emergency manager appointed in 2009 says the sales are necessary to help close a $12 million budget deficit. A three-page list of property available includes five fire stations, two cemeteries, two landfills, 11 water-pumping stations, two community centers, the public library and a police station, according to the Detroit Free Press. The city’s budget has already been cut by $20 million since the emergency manager took over.

2. Art scene in Columbus barren? The streets of Columbus aren’t devoid of eye-catching artwork, writes Robert Vitale of the Columbus Dispatch, but recent attempts to add art downtown have highlighted the fact the central Ohio city’s public landscape is “relatively barren.” Vitale notes that Columbus is the nation’s 15th-largest city, but the largest without a public-art program. In examining the state of public art in the city, he writes a 2007 economic development report called for better funding of public art, but Mayor Michael B. Coleman has made “no progress” over the past two years in making that a priority.

3. Study: Residents still flee Midwest. Illinois and New Jersey sat atop a list of states with the largest outbound migration this year, according to an annual study of interstate moving trends authored by United Van Lines. Although specific numbers were not available, a synopsis of the study said Americans continue to leave the Northeast and Midwest and migrate toward the South and West. Based in St. Louis, the company has tracked interstate moves since 1977 and says its study has reflected migration trends accurately enough that financial firms and real estate companies use the data. Despite the trend for Illinois, U.S. Census estimates say the state gained 38,625 residents over the past 15 months.

Midwest Grows At Slower Pace Than Slow-Growing United States

The Midwest is growing at a slower pace than any region in the United States, according to new population estimates released by the Census Bureau.

The region’s population measured 67,517,954 according to numbers from the 2010 U.S. Census. Fifteen months later, estimates put the region’s population at 67,669,140.

The increase for the nine-state region of 151,186 was smaller than individual increases for California, Texas and Florida, and only slightly higher than individual increases for Georgia (128,000) and North Carolina (121,000). No Midwestern states ranked among the Top 10 fastest-growing ones.

Michigan was one of three states across the country to lose population.

Continue reading “Midwest Grows At Slower Pace Than Slow-Growing United States”

Midwest Memo: Sears Spurned In Illinois And Courted By Ohio, Chrysler Sales Skyrocket, Dayton Seeks Immigrant Influx

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Dayton seeks immigrant influx. Among industrial Midwest cities seeking to stop a population hemorrhage, Dayton, Ohio hardly stands alone in its attempts to attract highly educated immigrants. What’s unusual in Dayton is that the city wants the rest of the immigrants too.  City Manager Tim Riordan tells our partner station WBEZ that welcome all immigrants regardless of skill or wealth will create “a vibrancy” in the city. Dayton’s population sank 14.8 percent over the past decade to 141,527 in the 2010 U.S. Census, a steep decline from its all-time high of 262,000 in the 1960s. Currently, foreign-born residents account for 3 percent of the city’s residents. But Riordan says newcomers are already building foundations in the western Ohio city.

2. Chrysler sales skyrocket. Driven by rising consumer confidence, Chrysler reported today that sales rose 45 percent in November year over year. Brand sales rose 92 percent thanks to increased demand for the 200 and 300 sedans, and Jeep sales increased 50 percent from November 2010. General Motors and Ford are both expected to release monthly sales numbers later today. “Consumer confidence is really what’s going to underpin us as we go into 2012, so we’re really pleased to see that showing up,” GM’s Don Johnson tells our partner Michigan Radio. Industry sales appear to be on pace for 13 million units in 2011.

3. Ohio courts Sears. Two days after Illinois lawmakers jilted Sears Holdings Corp. in its attempt to win tax incentives worth $100 million from the state, the Chicago-based company has a new suitor. Ohio has offered Sears incentives worth four times that amount to relocate its headquarters and 6,200 jobs to the Buckeye State. Texas is another state aggressively courting the company, according to the office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. His counterpart, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, declined to confirm or deny an offer to Sears, joking with The Columbus Dispatch that, “we are somewhere between $0 and $400 million.”

Even As City Populations Decline Overall, Some Urban Cores See Growth, And Detroit May Poised For Similar Uptick

For many urban planners and new urbanists, the U.S. census numbers released in 2010 were demoralizing.

They had anticipated that Americans, after decades of fleeing to suburbs, would reverse that trend in the 2000s and begin returning to rebuilt cities. Instead, suburban growth increased. According to New Geography, 91 percent of growth over the decade occurred in suburbs, an increase from the 1990-2000 timespan in which 85 percent occurred in suburbs.

But there is one kernel of optimism in the numbers for city lovers: some urban cores are growing.

Writing for New Geography last week, Aaron M. Renn says in some cities “we see that over the 2000s out-migration from the core to the suburban counties was relatively flat or even declined late in the decade as general mobility declined in the Great Recession. In contrast, migration from the suburban counties to the core stayed flat or actually increased.”

Continue reading “Even As City Populations Decline Overall, Some Urban Cores See Growth, And Detroit May Poised For Similar Uptick”

Midwest Memo: Illinois governor learns from Israel, plus Midwest home sales tick upward

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Illinois learns from Israel. In a collaborative effort to learn more about green technology, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is traveling to Israel this week for what his staff has called “an educational mission.” Our partner station WBEZ says the governor will visit a company that develops automotive battery chargers and sign a water pact that encourages Illinois and Israel to work jointly on clean-water issues.

2. Median income falls in Michigan. Numbers released from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey show the median income for Michigan households plunged by more than $9,000 over the past decade, according to partner station Michigan Radio. Adjusted for inflation, the median income in 2000 was $54,651. By 2009, the amount had fallen to $45,255.

3. Home sales inch upward. Existing home sales rose 1 percent across the Midwest in June, according to data released by the National Association of Realtors on Wednesday. Sales reached 1.04 million, but remain 14 percent below June 2010 levels. The median Midwest price fell to $147,700, down 5.3 percent, year over year.

Detroit Census Challenge

Hard to Count: The Barbara in Southwest Detroit

DETROIT — Imagine trying to prove that thousands of people exist, when you have no idea who they are.

That’s the dilemma facing officials who think their communities were undercounted in the 2010 Census.  But for Midwest cities preparing to challenge those numbers: How do you find people the Census Bureau missed?  We went looking for answers in Detroit. [display_podcast] Continue reading “Detroit Census Challenge”

Midwest Cities Consider Results of 2010 Census

Photo by Krissy Venosdale via Flickr

Census 2010 is painting a painfully clear picture of the Midwest: what were once major American cities have now shrunk to half their former size. Cleveland and Detroit are both at 100 year population lows. Detroit dropped to 713,777 – a 25 percent decrease in the last decade. Cleveland dropped just below 400,000 – a 17 percent decline since 2000. So what’s a Midwest City to do?

That’s the question the Sound of Ideas team posed recently. The Sound of Ideas is the local talk show out of Changing Gears partner station 90.3 WCPN in Cleveland.

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Here’s a look at some of the suggestions guests put forward.

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Detroit: A Boom Town Goes Bust

For almost a half century last century, Detroit was a boom town. Between 1910 and 1950, few cities grew faster, were wealthier, were more attractive to those seeking success than what became known as the Motor City.

Detroit in its heyday

But for the past 60 years, the decline has been long and relatively slow — until the year 2000. Since then, Detroit has lost one-quarter of its population, as the 2010 census figures released on Tuesday showed. The decline was equal to one departee every 22 minutes, according to PBS Newshour.

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Michigan Cities Join Others in Shedding Population

The U-S Census Bureau released the latest population count for Michigan this week. And, like other places in the Midwest, Michigan’s biggest cities shed population.

Downtown Detroit. Photo by David Tansey.

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Chicago’s population declined by almost seven percent in the 2010 census numbers, and Cleveland’s dropped by about 17 percent. But Detroit lost a quarter of its population over the last ten years.

It now has the same population that it had in 1910, before the auto industry boom. Robert Ficano, the Executive for Wayne County, home to Detroit, said, “now’s not the time to look in the rear view mirror, now’s the time to look in the future and say ‘ok, what do we do to recover and what do we do to stabilize ourselves here?’”

Continue reading “Michigan Cities Join Others in Shedding Population”