Chicago Caught In a “Brutal” Reordering Of Global Cities

We’ve heard a lot in the past few weeks about Chicago and its place among global cities. On Thursday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel set forth his proposal for a “new Chicago” that involves a wide variety of infrastructure improvements, private funding and more debt.

Photo by Simonds via flickr

All that is supposed to put the city back among the list of the world’s best cities. But there are suggestions that Chicago actually needn’t bother.

Urbanist Richard Florida looks at why some cities lose and others win in a sweeping piece today on The Atlantic Cities. He notes that the world’s biggest cities have been dramatically reordered since 1950, when Chicago was the second biggest in the U.S. and eighth largest in the world.

Now, Chicago ranks third largest among American cities and 25th in the world. Florida suggests it probably doesn’t stand a chance to become more important, because it’s now part of the world’s tier of second and third-level cities.  Continue reading “Chicago Caught In a “Brutal” Reordering Of Global Cities”

A Visual Guide To Midwest Migration During The Great Recession

Over the last few weeks, we have been hearing from people who have left the region to settle in other parts of the country and the world. We’ve been mapping the migration and documenting the experiences of these Midwestern exiles. We’ve heard from around 200 people. Now that the project is wrapping up, we wanted to know how these stories compare to regional trends.

See a larger version here

Midwestern Exiles: Where Are They Now — And Is It Better?

Generations of people came to the Midwest in hopes of finding a better life. But economic opportunity has been harder to find since the recession began. People left the region in record numbers in search of jobs or a better housing market.

Changing Gears is launching a project to document the stories of these Midwestern exiles. We’ll be mapping where these people ended up. And, they will be sharing their own stories about why they left and if it’s better where they are now.

If you or somebody you know has been a part of the Midwest Migration, add the story to the project.

Today, you’ll meet Andy Borchers. He and his wife moved to Nashville, Tennessee in July of 2011. You can also see his story on our map.

Andy and Becky Borchers, now of Nashville, TN

Name: Andy Borchers
Midwest home: Clarkston, MI
New home: Nashville, TN

Why did Becky and I move we after living for a combined 80 years in Michigan? The single biggest reason was a lifestyle choice. Our children are grown and moved out of state. Becky’s parents both passed away, We felt free to start a new phase of our life.

Leaving dear friends in Michigan and having to pack up and sell our home of 27 years was not easy to do.  Indeed, the move was very stressful for both of us, and we are glad to have this behind us. After five months in Nashville, however, we are thoroughly enjoying our new lives, friends and church family.

Looking towards retirement, we wanted to move to a warmer climate and an area with a lower cost of living.  My new employer, a Christian university, gives me tremendous opportunity for professional growth as a business professor. It’s twice the size and in a stronger position than my previous employer. Nashville has much more to offer, especially in service industries such as health care.

The economy in Nashville appears to be stronger and more diverse than Southeast Michigan. The center of auto manufacturing has seemingly moved from Detroit to southern states centered around Nashville,

Moving to Nashville allowed us to return to a town we came to love while when we spent the first ten months of our marriage here as I completed a graduate degree. Although I very much miss my university colleagues in Michigan, I am establishing new relationships in teaching and research. Becky and I are very optimistic for our future in Nashville. Living in a different place brings some sadness and loss but also new opportunities and growth.

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 Memo: Big Three Report Higher Sales, Toyota Will Export U.S.-Built Siena, Pittsburgh Woos New Residents

Three stories making news across the Midwest today:

1. Big Three sales rise. Detroit automakers posted gains in annual sales Tuesday, although some leaps were not as large as anticipated. Chrysler showed the most significant improvement. Sales of its light vehicles rose 27 percent in October, year over year. Ford sales rose 6 percent overall and General Motors increased 1.7 percent, under expectations of a 5-to-7-percent increase. According to the Detroit Free Press, sales of the 2012 Ford Focus were largely unchanged over the year, but sales fell below the model’s chief competitor, the Chevrolet Cruze.

2. Pittsburgh seeks incoming residents. Upon winning $100,000, reality-show contestant Matt Kennedy Gould once dissed Disney World and proudly declared, “I’m going to Pittsburgh!” He’ll have some company. A promotional arm of the city is offering a $100,000 prize in a contest that aims to woo potential Pittsburgh residents. Officials seek what they call “experienced dreamers,” a euphemism for people 45 and older who are seeking a fresh start in a new city to “realize their dreams.” In New York City, the contest has some appeal. The blog Brokelyn notes, Pittsburgh boasts an unemployment rate below the national average and “the beer is really cheap.”

3. Toyota will export Siena. For the first time, Toyota will begin exporting the Siena from its U.S. assembly plant in Princeton, Ind. Shipments to South Korea are scheduled to begin in November. “We hope to continue boosting exports from our North American operations,” said Yoshimi Inaba, president of Toyota’s North American operations. In a written release, the company said it has exported several models of U.S.-made vehicles since 1988, and that overall, those exports increased 30 percent in 2010 to approximately 100,000 units. Sienna exports to South Korea are forecast at 600 annual units.

Changing Gears Presents Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 1

Changing Gears is spending the next few years looking at ways to reinvent the Midwest economy. Today, we kick off our first week-long series: Reinventing Pittsburgh. Once, it was the Steel City, just as Detroit was the Motor City. But while Detroit struggles to find its new identity, Pittsburgh is undergoing an enormous transformation, shifting to an economy that includes technology, medicine, education and yes, steel.

Can Pittsburgh be a model for the Great Lakes region? Later this week, we’ll be looking at how Detroit and Gary, Indiana, are following Pittsburgh’s lead. But first, we look at where Pittsburgh was.

Continue reading “Changing Gears Presents Reinventing Pittsburgh: Part 1”