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Economic Evolution of the Rust Belt

Can Rust Belt cities evolve from low-skill factory jobs and paternal company town employers in to more diverse and dynamic entrepreneurial economies?
December 12, 2017, 11am PST | snewberg | @JoeUrbanist
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Donald Joski

A new Brookings Institution study looks at factors of successful Rust Belt communities, and how some have evolved from older identities. At work are a number of factors, including universities, the legacy of wise community investing in company towns, and capitalizing on place and history.

Cities and counties that are home to the University of Wisconsin and Notre Dame, for example, have incomes that are higher than their statewide average, as these and other institutions contribute heavily to their respective economies.

Smart economic developers are a boon to their communities. Green Bay, Wisconsin, is leveraging partnerships with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's new engineering school and local business start-ups, and also capitalizing on downtown redevelopment and a mixed-use development near legendary Lambeau Field.

Company towns have built-in characteristics that provide a leg up on the competition. Columbus, Indiana, is home of Cummins, whose corporate leadership has resulted in an advanced reputation for high-quality architecture and design. As well, the town is a leader in clean technology.  

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Published on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 in Brookings Institution
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