Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, Dayton, Canton and Youngstown have been the drivers of Ohio’s economy for most of the 20th century. Today, however, these “Big Eight” cities are experiencing sustained, long-term population loss, turning them into Ohio’s “shrinking cities” and prompting city and state officials to ask: How will they reshape and reinvent themselves?
Ohio’s Cities At A Turning Point: Finding the Way Forward attempts to answer just that question. The white paper released today by the Greater Ohio Policy Center and the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program lists 10 policy recommendations to guide leaders as the cities undergo a physical transformation. Lavea Brachman, co-director for Greater Ohio and a non-resident senior fellow for the Brookings Institution, co-authored the paper along with Alan Mallach, non-resident senior fellow for the Brookings Institution.
According to the white paper, the following seven premises must frame any vision for recreating the physical footprint of Ohio’s largest cities:
- These cities contain significant assets for future rebuilding.
- These cities will not regain their peak population.
- These cities have a surplus of housing.
- These cities have far more vacant land than can be absorbed by redevelopment.
- Impoverishment threatens the viability of these cities more than population loss.
- Local resources are severely limited.
- The fate of cities and their metropolitan areas are inextricably inter-connected.
Specific recommendations from Ohio’s Cities At A Turning Point include the call for joint regional planning and economical development; targeted, strategic investment of resources; prioritization of state funding to cities adopting proactive plans that address their population loss and need for land reconfiguration; and local government consolidation where appropriate.
We are proud to release this white paper, whose research also helped inform the Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities for the Next Economy Report released in February.