Monday, March 27, 2017

An Ohio Pejoratives Elegy

I confess.  I've not, yet, read the book.

I've heard "Rust Belt" used a bit too much to market the book.  I also fear the title "Hillbilly" could invoke stereotypes and cause a broad brush stroke on all of us in Ohio.

But I liked the messages J.D. Vance, the author, has sent recently with his highly-visible return to his home state of Ohio.  It's clear Elegy is the emphasis in the title.

For one, he's a homesick Ohioan who took the first opportunity to return to his home state when his circumstances permitted it.  At brief remarks he gave in Licking County Sunday night, he said he was hearing too many people where he lived in California who were disparaging Ohio to want to stay there.

Secondly, he gives a message of upward mobility.  His personal story is one of upward mobility, but it's also clear he intends to send a message for a wider audience with his personal story as example. He told a Licking County Republican Party audience on Sunday that the GOP should be "the party of working middle class people."

Perhaps, most of all, Vance is triggering an elegy for the phrases that have been used to disparage Ohio for decades.  It's time we mourn the death of the Ohio pejoratives like "Fly Over Country" and "Rust Belt."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Ohio's 'Burbs Bring Ohio Development Success, Again

Congratulations, Ohio!  Our state was #2 again in the annual economic development competition among states put on by Site Selection magazine.  For at least 25 years, Site Selection magazine's rankings have been the annual benchmark for economic development success and Ohio has, proudly, carried its weight in the competition.  2016 was no exception.

Site Selection's 2016 rankings
An especially big thanks goes to the manufacturing sector and Ohio's suburban areas for this win. A quick review of the results from 2016 prove the point that Ohio's success is owed to manufacturing and also to the state's suburban and rural areas. Here's why:
Of 498 projects submitted by the state in 2016, 48% (240 total) where investments by the manufacturing sector.  Manufacturing is Ohio's biggest GDP contributor. It's our state's legacy.  
Of those manufacturing projects, 95% of them came from outside of Ohio's most urban cities.   
Of all the 498 projects overall, two out of three happened in Ohio's less urban counties.
The message?  

Let's celebrate success!  However, as Ohio government ponders how it delivers economic development and job creation programs, Ohio needs to embrace her suburban areas as a key to development in the future.  It's important that outreach to manufacturing and suburban areas are key among the metrics of state-funded development programs.  These numbers prove they should be.

Let's face it.  Ohio's suburbs don't tend to carry the political clout that the state's biggest places do. However, as Ohio's General Assembly considers it's next two-year budget, investment in Ohio's suburban and rural areas deserves attention that political clout might otherwise not dictate.  Any policy debate that aims to cut off the 'burbs means cutting off Ohio's source of success.

Let's have reasons to celebrate in the future too.

More background
This analysis comes from nine years of reviewing the data that has been used to rank Ohio.  The trends are consistent.  

Let's start with what makes the list.

Site Selection magazine counts announcements of manufacturing, distribution, headquarters, and R&D projects that meet at least one of three criteria:
  • investment of $1 million or more
  • square footage of 20,000  sq. ft. or more
  • job creation of 20 or more

The 2016 version of the Ohio Private Investment Survey was recently published to share the list of projects Ohio's Development Services Agency used to help tip the scales in Ohio's favor.  Ohio submitted 498 projects fitting that criteria.  

Ohio's smaller communities brought the win, again.

The list shows Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati combined for 13 of the 240 manufacturing projects in the state.  That means 95% came from outside of Ohio's three largest cities.

Six years of data shows how that pace has played out since 2011 when this analysis was first performed:

2016: 95%
2015: 89%
2014: 95%
2013: 94%
2012: 94%
2011: 94%

Ohio's smaller counties brought two out of every three development projects to Ohio, again.

Of the total 498 projects, 329 occurred outside of Ohio's three largest counties--Cuyahoga, Franklin, and Hamilton.  That's 66% of the overall projects.

Nine years of data show, consistently, that Ohio's success it owed to it's less urban counties.

2016: 66%
2015: 70%
2014: 74%
2013: 72%
2012: 74%
2011: 68%
2010: 71%
2009: 73%
2008: 74%

Check it out yourself.  The analysis is easily reproduced.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Driverless Cars Favor Suburban Living

I listened to remarks presented about autonomous vehicles yesterday and how one urban planner organization views economic development in the future where these cars are prevalent.

It wasn't presented as a biased presentation, but it was.  The planners took an urban view, even though they didn't confess it.

The real debate is which density of living does the driverless car audience of the future favor.  

Many wish for urban.  I say it's suburban.

Suburban vs. Urban is a legitimate debate. Slate wrote a good piece presenting multiple viewpoints and helped to show where bias of some lies.

The issue is this:

Will I still want to own my own car?

Will I still want street parking and wide streets in front of my suburban-style house?

Will I still need to park my car at work?

The answer is "yes" in all three cases for me and, I contend, the vast majority of the general public. Thus, the nationally-favored choice of suburban living won't change.

The planners assume that Generation X and older generations won't matter in this choice.  They're wrong there too.

Yes, there is a growing audience who, in their early adult and childless years, prefer not owning a car, living in a dense neighborhood without streets, and who won't need to park a car at work.

That early adult audience grows up, though, and lives longer than previous generations.

Policy makers need to be aware when and where bias is entering.  Some are already being paid as consultants to try to steer policy.  The policy debate has already begun.