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Cleveland Population Trends

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While our population trends is alarming, I would argue that that change in mindset, from corporate hierarchy (which I think might be an even more imporant legacy in Cleveland than its blue-collar tradition) to inclusive and progressive, is occurring, albeit slower than many of us would like:

- Dedicated bike lanes have increased five fold in Cuyahoga County in the last five years.
- Land conservation in Northeast Ohio has increased dramatically in the last two years, thanks in part to the merger of several conservation organizations.
- There has been a very public dialogue about lakefront access, including creation of an urban nature preserve at Dike 14 and relocation of the Port Authority to aid lakefront development opportunities.
- The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is making slow but steady improvements in educational outcomes and has launched a number of interesting new specialty schools to better serve the needs of a variety of different students with different learning needs.
- The city has made its top transportation infrastructure priority conversion of a highway into a moderate-speed boulevard. Really, could we look back even 10 years and say that the city would launch a fight with ODOT to decrease highway access into the city? 
- Connectivity to the lake, the river and the national park are increasingly showing up in the public dialogue.
- The Euclid Corridor Project will shortly be the largest bus-rapid transit corridor in the country.
- The community development sector is channelling its resources to strategically bring big projects like Gordon Square and St. Lukes online.
- Community organizations are working to leverage our city's exceptional fiberoptic network to increase connectivity between nonprofits, government agencies and the people they serve.
- We're largely recognized as being leaders in redevelopment, particularly as relates to land banking and brownfield revitalization strategies.
- There has been a dramatic increase in public and foundation investments in economic development the last several years, as indicated by the emergence of The Fund for Our Economic Future, TeamNEO, JumpStart and BioEnterprise.
- Cleveland is one of the few cities in the country having really robust conversations about creative reuse of surplus and abandoned space.
- The county now has the largest per capita public investment in arts and culture in the country.
- Civic support of investing in alternative energy is pretty staggering at the moment.
- While it's mainly just conversation right now, there are finally discussions about recruiting and retaining immigrants, students and artists.
- Again, while we have a long way to go, Cleveland is leading the state in historic preservation efforts ... 20 projects recently approved for preservation tax credits are taking place within the city of Cleveland ... that's more than half of 37 projects approved statewide.
- Even the traditional, old guard "silver bullets" are taking on a progressive flavor; in the early 2000s, the corporate leadership pushed a generic convention center, despite evidence that such centers were failing elsewhere. Today, they've repositioned the discussion to link the convention center to our vibrant medical sector and to attract not only conventions but also medical supply companies into the region.

Perhaps most importantly, and something that doesn't generally show up in the Plain Dealer's dour coverage of population trends, we've seen an incredible demographic shift downtown and the Near West Side since the 2000 census. Downtown, Tremont and Ohio City, while they still have a ways to go, have seen a sizable in-migration of residents, and arguably this is an in-migration of some of the most highly educated and progressive residents of Northeast Ohio. At the same time, the city has been able to maintain the stability of some of its more established neighborhoods, like Edgewater, Shaker Square and Old Brooklyn, and is seeing increasing opportunities for in-migration in Asiatown, Midtown and University Circle.

Don't get me wrong ... there are definitely a lot of negative trends opposite our advancements. But it seems to me strategies to address these challenges have taken on a considerably more progressive flavor even in the short six years that I've lived here. And it seems like the in-migration into the core of the city is really starting to reposition what the city looks like.

To jpop's point, we're still doing FAR too little in the promotions department ... I would not anticipate that many people outside of our peers in the Midwest and the Mid-Atlantic are very aware of this transition; likely, most people still associate us with gritty industry and stuffy boardrooms.

And while I hate to overgeneralize, I think a lot of this shift in strategy is occurring because of a generational shift in leadership. For whatever reason, it seems like the Generation Xers and Yers sticking around in Cleveland are far more concerned about progressive planning, inclusiveness and tolerance, and far more likely to want to live in the city proper (yes, even when they have kids), than are our counterparts among the Baby Boomers.

I wonder if the poor real estate market could actually result in people staying put for a while. Just watching the evening (national news) it appears migration has really slowed down nationwide b/c people feel they cannot sell their homes. So maybe we can slow the exodus this way  :oops: . I know our wandering eye for other pastures has been tempered by this reality. I do believe the rebirth of Cleveland is more about the seemingly intangible, life-long,slow return, high yield investments that 8shades brings up as opposed to the much touted heavily subsidized urban lifestyle malls and office parks that so many believe will save the city. Especially concerning that so many eggs are in a few developer baskets given nationwide, these deals are falling apart left and right.  I agree there are leadership issues...so many people are stuck in continual loop executing the same plays over and over . Problem is the game changed a long time ago.

I really think that we can all blame the companies that shut down and moved operations to the south. In some area they moved to area's where they have to pay higher wages to employee's like in some area's of  Florida and California. If some of these companies stayed put they would be in better shape than they already are now.

Nice summary 8Shades

Cleveland has been hit harder than most by trends affecting the entire Midwest.  The foreclosure crisis is the latest blow.  One thing I can say, and it is clearly in evidence in this thread, is that the people of Cleveland still have a fighting spirit about their town.  That's certainly a positive.

The most important change that is needed in Cleveland is a mindset change that sees the region as linked and a reciprocal view of city-suburb relations.  That doesn't mean what you think it does.  Today, most "regionalism" concepts seem to be about forcing outlying areas to pay tribute to Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.  Until Clevelanders wake up to understanding that a great city needs great suburbs, and their prosperity can't be achieved by choking off outlying growth, I don't see a material change.

The mention of Chicago is very appropriate.  Neither Cleveland nor any other Midwest city has experienced anything like the Chicago condo boom, which is arguably the biggest in the United States, with literally thousands of units constructed every year.  Yet despite this, the city of Chicago as a whole is flat to declining in population.  The influx of the "creative class" can't make up for the exodus of everyone else.  Any city vision that is founded on a monolithic appeal to upper classes is doomed to fail.


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