The Rust Belt Didn't Have to Happen

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I knew a number of things about J. Irwin Miller, the former Cummins Engine CEO who financed Columbus, Indiana’s world-renowned collection of modernist architectural masterpieces.  But when I read Nancy’s Kriplen’s recent short biography of him, I learned a lot I’d never suspected. Clearly one of the most distinguished Hoosiers of all time, among other things, Esquire magazine put him on its cover in 1967 saying that he should be the next President of the United States.  That was a pipe dream, of course.  read more »

Walking Around Downtown Brooklyn

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After having lost more than half a million residents between 1950 and 1980 New York’s borough of Brooklyn has regained more than two-thirds of its population loss. The renaissance of Brooklyn is rightfully cited as an urban success story. It initially attracted Millennials and others seeking an urban lifestyle at a lower cost than Manhattan, but now it has also become increasingly more expensive, evidenced by many new high rise luxury condominium buildings.  read more »

Is America About to Suffer Its Weimar Moment?

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Is America about to suffer its Weimar moment, culminating in the collapse of its republican institutions? Our democracy may be far more rooted than that of Germany’s first republic, which fell in 1933 to Adolf Hitler, but there are disturbing similarities.  read more »

Detroit: Rebranding, Resilience, and Redemption

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Detroit may have found something that could figure prominently in the city's long-term rebound.

Earlier this week I found this video, featuring the Detroit Academy of Arts and Sciences Choir and produced/sponsored by the Metro Detroit Convention and Visitors Bureau, and I was blown away by the quality and the message. In the week since its release the video has garnered nearly one million views. It's absolutely worth your five minutes to check it out:  read more »

How Trump Can Win Again

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By all rights, Donald Trump should be packing his bags and headed to the golf links and his favorite fast food restaurant. Never popular, he has done little to expand his base over the past three years. Unlike previous officeholders, many from more humble beginnings, he also demonstrably has failed to grow in the job.  read more »

A Walk Around Jersey City’s Exchange Place

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More than a quarter century ago, Joel Garreau’s classic Edge City; Life on the New Frontier described the rise of commercial centers outside the historic downtowns (central business districts or CBDs).  read more »

Amplified Advantage: Why Education is Not the Answer to Our Class Problems

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Thirty years ago, after having dropped out of college after just one term, unable to pay for my dorm room, I was unsure if I would ever leave the working class. Two years later I was a student at Barnard College, an elite small liberal arts college three thousand miles from my parents’ home. To this day, I am not sure how I made that leap, but it was smoothed over by significant financial assistance from the college. Unable to pay for my public university, I was able to graduate from one of the best private colleges in the country virtually debt-free.  read more »

Immigrant Entrepreneurs Drive Main Street's Growth

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In cities and towns in all reaches of America, businesses started by immigrants are critical pieces of the fabric of our economy and communities.

My children attend a Montessori preschool started by an Indian immigrant. Like many, she did not come to this country to start a business. But after multiple college degrees in the U.S. and some years working in corporate America, she opened her first Montessori school. Nearly 15 years later, she owns two schools, employs 100 women, and touches the lives of hundreds of students each day.  read more »

California's Low-wage Jobs Crisis

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Media, the political class and policy wonks have identified the “housing crisis” as California’s existential challenge.

Yet, in reality, more critical may be a “jobs crisis” that is condemning ever more Californians to permanent low-wage purgatory.

Viewed in aggregate, California employment growth in the past decade has outperformed the rest of the country, although the state lags its prime competitors Utah, Florida, Texas, Colorado, Nevada. In more recent years the state has remained ahead of the national average, although clearly losing momentum.  read more »

California Preening: Golden State on Path to High-Tech Feudalism

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“We are the modern equivalent of the ancient city-states of Athens and Sparta. California has the ideas of Athens and the power of Sparta,” declared then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2007. “Not only can we lead California into the future . . . we can show the nation and the world how to get there.” When a movie star who once played Hercules says so who’s to disagree?  read more »