Small Cities

Localism – What’s the Attraction?

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As I drive to work here in Wisconsin Rapids, I cross the bridge where the view of the river is stunningly peaceful, with the mystical morning mist rising off the calm water reflecting the warm early morning sunlight as it surrounds the pristine wooded islands. It takes me all of five minutes by car to make my journey to work – one of the beauties of living in a smaller community. I can get to most places in town within five minutes.  read more »

Turns Out There's Good News on Main St.

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As the financial crisis takes down Wall Street, the regular folks on Main Street are biting their nails, watching the toxic tsunami head their way. But for all our nightmares of drowning in a sea of bad mortgages, foreclosed homes and shrunken retirement plans, the truth is that the effects of this meltdown won't be all bad in the long run. In one regard, it could offer our society a net positive: Forced into belt-tightening, Americans are likely to strengthen our family and community ties and to center our lives more closely on the places where we live.  read more »

Beyond The Bailout: What’s Next in the Housing Market?

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The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (we’ll call it the “Bail Out”) was signed into law on October 3rd. This, combined with the new reality in capital markets and current economic conditions, will result in some major shifts in the outlook for housing over the next few years. It is always possible that the federal government will try to do even more to fix what will be an agonizing housing problem over the next few years, but seems unlikely even Bernake, Paulson or their appointed successors will be able to change the basic story line.  read more »

The Geography of Inequality

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The global financial crisis has drawn greater attention to the world of the super rich and to the astounding increases in inequality since 1980, returning the country to a degree of inequality last seen in 1929 or perhaps even 1913. In the year 2006 alone, Wall Street executives received bonuses of $62 billion. Financial services increased from 10 percent of all business profits in 1980 to 40 percent in 2007, an obscene and indefensible development that now threatens the rest of the ‘real economy’.

Here’s what happened to income and wealth between 1970 and 2005  read more »

Resources and Resourcefulness – Welcome to The Real Economy

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By Delore Zimmerman

The orchard-laden foothills of North Central Washington’s Wenatchee Valley are resplendent at this time of year. The apple and pear harvest is in full swing. The warm golden hues, the crisp mountain air and the bustle of trucks carrying produce to markets near and far provide a stark and welcome contrast to the daily barrage of bad news about the downward spiral of the nation’s financial markets.  read more »

Why Omaha?

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I lived in or near cities for 30 years because that’s where the jobs are. I left southwestern Pennsylvania in 1977 as the closing of coal mines and steel mills wrecked the local economy. It cost almost $1,000 per semester to attend the state college, many times that for the state university. There were no opportunities for a young person. I moved to California where residents received free tuition at state universities. I earned 2 college degrees in California and advanced my career from Prudential Insurance through the Federal Reserve Bank and to the Pacific Stock Exchange.  read more »

Restless Americans: Migration and Population Change, 2000-2007

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Americans may be less mobile than in the past, but millions since 2000 have continued to be on the move, reshaping the landscape and economy of the nation. Three maps will be briefly discussed: one of population change by county, 2000-2007, one of net internal migration by county, and one of net immigration from abroad. We will then focus on the “extremes”, unusually large levels or intensities of net internal migration and of immigration.

Overall population growth  read more »

A Grand Alliance: Fostering a North American Central Economic Region

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Given current economic trends, the time may be ripe to consider as a concept, an economic region straddling the middle of the North American continent – a North American Central Economic Region (NACER). These cross-border economic regions spanning Northwestern Ontario, Manitoba, North and South Dakota and Minnesota, already share infrastructure, production facilities and research and development capacity. A North American Central Economic Region (NACER) would build on these existing relationships, as well as historic patterns of cultural exchange, cross-border trade, and travel.  read more »

A Local Graduation: How Small Towns Can Come Back

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Pick anytown, USA. You were born there; went to school there; made your living there; had your children and grandchildren and ended your life there. Headstones, like many, tell the story of who came and who went and they helped make the town a unique place.

And so, for a moment, I lamented at how much of that we had lost in the changes we have witnessed over the decades. Here we are in the biggest financial crisis in history, or at least since the Great Depression. What do we do?  read more »

Time to Reinvent College Towns?

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By Joel Kotkin and Mark Schill

For much of their history college towns have been seen primarily as “pass through” communities servicing a young population that cycles in and out of the community. But more recently, certain college communities have grown into “knowledge-based” hot spots --- Raleigh-Durham, Madison, Cambridge and the area around Stanford University --- which have been able to not only retain some graduates but attract knowledge workers and investors from the rest of the country.

But a large proportion of college towns do not seem to be doing so well.  read more »