Thursday, March 10, 2011

What Would Kotkin Say?

The U.S. Census Bureau has published its 2010 Census numbers for Ohio.  It made me think of Joel Kotkin and his book The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 and equally-compelling blog.

A year of reading Joel Kotkin does not qualify me to read his mind, but I think I could predict what he might read into it those Ohio numbers.

Validation.  For one, Joel Kotkin would look at the metro areas in Ohio and see the numbers validate that, despite a great focus on "return-to-the-inner-city" tax spending and policy in Ohio, that the suburbs are where it's at in Ohio.

The Census report validates the fact that the growing places in Ohio are the suburban areas of Ohio.  In particular, the counties one county removed from the largest metro counties are the ones seeing the greatest growth.  Is that surprising?  Ohioans are very much like a majority of the nation's population--we crave lower density living.

Affirmation.  Kotkin would also affirm the concept that the continual rise and importance of suburbs does not mean the total demise of cities.  Columbus proves that.  Though, certainly, parts of Columbus are in very bad shape, Columbus, at 10.6% population growth, fared pretty well.  That pace isn't far off the 14% growth rate for Central Ohio (as reported by The Dispatch).

Having an Aha Moment.  Kotkin would experience a moment of clarity about the continual change in ethnicity in Ohio.  According to The Dispatch, the Latino population grew 63% in Ohio in the past ten years.  The growing counties also saw growing ethnicity.  Ohio suburbs proved to be places that welcomed an immigrant population too.

A New Focus.  USA Today published a story on the Ohio Census results saying, "Places that prospered from making things -- steel, tires, cash registers, bikes -- continued a free-fall that started a half-century ago and might be getting worse, according to Census Bureau population numbers released Wednesday."  But they miss the point.  Ohio has a new focus.

Manufacturing is alive in Ohio.  It's just that the suburban growth Ohio is seeing does not depend on business growth in the urban center.

It's not just our people living in the suburbs.  The people have gone where the jobs went.  Ohio's business growth is in the suburbs too.

Ohio shouldn't resist that.  It's time to embrace it.

A paraphrasing from the book flap of The Next Hundred Million: America in 2050 would read like this:  Ohio's future rests on the success or failure of its suburbs.

Yep, sounds like something Kotkin would say.

1 comment:

  1. Rick,
    Thanks for this. Please see my coment form your Sept. posting.

    They are already spinning the census her ein Cleveland - that merging cities would somehow make them great again. It just papers over their problems, just as Cols. has lost the same percentage sin it old core neighborhoods as have Cleveland, etc. The annexations make it seem that the problems have been solved.

    I find it amusing that now the Columbus mayor is calling for regional cooperation on business growth. I guess the reach of the city water lines finally ran out! time for plan "b",