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Old 06-19-2015, 12:12 AM
chh chh started this thread
Location: West Michigan
418 posts, read 495,352 times
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Sorry if this is the wrong forum for this, but I'm just curious of what you think will end up happening to those smaller, steadily declining cities/towns? Especially cities that don't really have good/any suburbs for people to move to. Places like Saginaw, MI https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagina...n#Demographics , Johnstown, PA https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Johnst...a#Demographics , or Vicksburg, MS https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicksb...i#Demographics

Will they experience a revival of some sort? Will they just become forgotten wastelands, mostly depopulated with little economy left to sustain them? What do you see happening to these smaller, declining cities?
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Old 06-19-2015, 06:30 AM
Location: Pittsburgh, PA (Morningside)
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Small declining cities major issue is simple, and it's been discussed many times: No jobs. Most of these areas began declining when the bottom fell out on manufacturing. There's really no replacement available.

Let's go around what remains of a local economy, discounting manufacturing:

First, there's agriculture and extraction related jobs. These have obvious limits. Agriculture tends to either be very automated, or employ migrant labor these days, leading to few employment options in urban centers. Extraction-related industries (mining, logging, gas and oil) are even more automated, and tend to be very seasonal industries.

Then, there's what I think of as "local services." Most people are employed in these fields in small cities. This is basically anyone whose job it is meeting the needs of people local to the area. These can be low-paid jobs like retail, middle-class jobs like teachers, or high-paying jobs like doctors. But what they have in common is demand is only based upon the size (and wealth) of the local population. If the population continues to shrink, the demand for all of these industries will fall as well. None of them can sustain any real economic growth on their own.

Then there are "export-based services." This comprises any sort of service which can be offered to people on a national or global scale. Think things like graphic design, engineering, architecture, financial analysis, programming, etc. These jobs can really build a local economy. But the main issue here is these sorts of employers have steadily moved away from small metropolitan areas and into big cities, knowing that's where they have the widest selection of talent, and thus can get the best applicants. Young job seekers know this, and also seek to move to the bigger cities (or the suburbs of the bigger cities).

Without these options, what's left for smaller cities? Only a few things. None of which offer a dynamic, growing economy, but all of which offer some stability.

1. Have a local college/university as a job anchor.
2. Have another major, stable job anchor (state capitol, army base, state prison, etc).
3. Become a tourist destination.
4. Try and market the city as a location for artists/empty nesters/retirees.
5. Hope that a nearby metro sprawls enough that you have a chance of becoming a "walkable exurb."

Last edited by eschaton; 06-19-2015 at 07:48 AM..
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Old 06-19-2015, 07:42 AM
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
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eschaton sums it up pretty well. The most stable small and mid-size cities in Ohio are anchored by universities. The small and mid-sized Ohio cities that are being revitalized are also anchored by universities, are marketing themselves to artists/empty nesters, and/or are trying to develop specialty "export-based services" (often in partnership with the local university) such as polymer research/development in Akron, and b2b software development in Youngstown.
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Old 06-20-2015, 11:31 AM
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There must be thousands of ghost towns in the US. First mining towns that died when the mine played out or prices collapse. Next factory towns. Galena IL is a former mining town that was able to reinvent itself. Perhaps some can become retirement communities. Cheap housing and hospitals nearby.
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