Investing in Our Cities for Economic Growth and Opportunity

As Northeast Ohio’s economy continues to evolve, a recent study conducted by the Center for Population Dynamics at Cleveland State University looks at how areas within Cleveland’s core are showing positive signs of growth. The study, which was commissioned on behalf of the City of Cleveland, “…charts economic, demographic, and real estate trends to identify parts of the city that are beginning to reemerge,” as indicated in this article from The Atlantic CityLab.  As city leaders look to the future, the study provides several key insights that will help prepare Cleveland for ongoing economic growth and success.

While population growth is often viewed as a key measure to a city or region’s success, the study suggests that population is not necessarily indicative of true economic health. Other factors, such as per capita income, can help tell the full story. To that end, compared to other metro areas like Phoenix and Las Vegas, which have experienced widespread population growth, Cleveland fares much better in terms of per capita income. Out of 380 U.S. metros, Cleveland’s real per capita income ranks 27th whereas Phoenix and Las Vegas rank 250th and 271st, respectively. Ultimately, these findings help support the idea that while Cleveland’s population has declined, the city and region are still able to thrive. Often, cities with booming populations experience unequal growth, catering only to the more affluent segments. While this trend is not restricted to growing cities, Cleveland aims to take corrective steps to create greater economic equality across the city.

Already, as the CSU study indicated, Cleveland is starting to see parts of the city reemerge; with targeted investments, the ultimate goal is to spread this “reemergence” across the entire city and not just small pockets. As for the transformation already underway, research shows that “neighborhoods that were low income from 1970 to 2000 became more affluent over the last 10 years” (CityLab.com). Compared to peer cities like Cincinnati, Columbus, and Pittsburgh, Cleveland saw the highest increase in gentrifying neighborhoods over the first decade of the 2000s. City leaders hope to build upon this positive momentum in the years ahead.

As highlighted in this Cleveland.com article, the CSU study asserts that Cleveland should “find the pinch points between emerging markets – places where private investment is flowing – and give them a boost” through the city’s neighborhood development spending. While areas of the near-West Side have experienced positive growth, much work remains on the city’s East Side. Many believe, however, that it is still early enough “to craft a strategy that supports both newcomers and existing residents, creating opportunity without leaving anyone behind” (Cleveland.com). While much work remains, the progress made over the last decade is an encouraging sign for what is to come.

To learn more about the study’s findings and how Cleveland is working to ensure economic growth across the entire city, please follow the links below.


Further Reading