Heartland

The Rust Belt Aesthetic

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Overseas competition. Automation replacing industrial labor. The inability to adapt to the global economy. Unions. Even the weather. Many reasons are given for why Rust Belt cities have lagged the rest of the nation in their recovery from their industrial heyday. But there’s one under-recognized but still consequential reason – the poor quality of the Rust Belt aesthetic. Rust Belt cities have never quite been known for their looks, and in an era when looks increasingly matter, they often fall short.  read more »

Red States Need to Be Citizen Friendly

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My latest column is now online in Governing magazine. It’s a very tough look at northern red state governments and how they have not delivered economic results. I specifically mention Kansas and Indiana.  read more »

A Very Curious Thing is Happening in Austin, Texas

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When the nation’s CEOs were being polled about state business climates earlier this year for Chief Executive’s annual rankings of the “Best and Worst States for Business,” there was a lot of concern about Austin, Texas, among the magazine’s conservative-leaning readership.  read more »

The Idaho Boom

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Idaho has recently been the fastest growing state in the country, with population growth of 2.1% last year. Of course it is easy to get high percentages on a small base, but the Idaho growth story is real. From 2018 to 2019, the most recent available data, Coeur d’Alene ranked 7th among all metro areas in population growth, Boise ranked 8th, and Idaho Falls ranked 18th.  read more »

Here's to Next GM Revolution in Spring Hill, Tennessee

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Remember how states and cities breathlessly pursued Tesla’s battery “gigafactory” in 2014 and Amazon’s “HQ2” in 2018? In the 1980s, localities went after General Motors’ Saturn project with much the same ardor before the “revolutionary” initiative landed in Spring Hill, Tennessee.  read more »

Could COVID Exodus Speed the Heartland Revival?

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Over the past two decades America’s largest urban areas enjoyed a heady renaissance, driven in large part by the in-migration of immigrants, minorities and young people. But even as a big-city dominated press corps continued to report on gentrification and displacement, those trends began to reverse themselves in recent years as all three of those populations started heading in ever larger numbers to suburbs, sprawling sunbelt boomtowns and smaller cities and out of the biggest ones.  read more »

Glad to See Home Team Win Kohl's Struggle with Activist Shareholders

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No, I’m not very happy that Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass ended up taking more home in total compensation for 2020 than she did for 2019, for a year in which the company furloughed about 85,000 employees and closed its more than 1,100 stores nationwide for several weeks.  read more »

Spend Federal Boon Wisely, and Flyover Country Can Win

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The mad dash for states, cities and other local units of government to spend the Biden-administration largess has begun. Once the floodgates are opened in a few weeks and the trillions of dollars in “Covid relief,” infrastructure “investment” and other sources of new federal bounty actually start flowing to jurisdictions across the country, America will see a government-spending spree the likes of which this nation has never experienced – not even in the midst of the Great Depression.  read more »

A Vision for Cleveland

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Part 1: Innovation and “the Next Silicon Valley”

It’s mayoral season in Cleveland and a number of viable candidates are lining up. With political candidacies inevitably comes political agendas. We will hear a lot about what a given candidate thinks has or hasn’t worked in Cleveland. We will also hear prognosticating about the future of Cleveland.  read more »

Reshoring America: Can the Heartland Lead the Way?

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The COVID-19 pandemic has had overwhelming impacts on our economy, not to mention the impact on lives and personal wellness.

The critical lack of medical equipment to treat and protect those affected highlights the over-reliance of United States manufacturing sector on overseas production. The offshoring issue extends beyond current pandemic concerns, however, reaching far larger and more permanent concerns over industrial supply chains, worker training and even national security.  read more »