As I always said, forget downtown, Cleveland is also many neighborhoods which, on average, see high crime, poverty, low number of advanced degrees, and there are only four more cities in the USA that are worse than us. This is what I got from reading today’s piece in USA TODAY on the top 50 worst cities to reside in the nation. The fact that Detroit Michigan is number one on the list leaves little comfort, especially since Toledo, which is located at the other end of Lake Erie just south of the Michigan border, is ranked 35 while Canton gets a 33 ranking. Akron isn’t even on the list. What the piece says about Cleveland many of all already know but to have all written down together, after all the hype coming from the powers that be and City Hall after the 2016 Republican Convention shows a general picture of what the nation thinks about this place.
“Widespread poverty, a high crime rate, and a bleak jobs picture likely partially explain the declining population. In the last decade, Cleveland’s population fell by 2.4% even as the country’s population as a whole grew by 7.1%.”
As many locals can tell you, it’s not all bleak. The potential for this city on the North Coast is amazing and many of the problems it faces many cities in the nation’s Rust-Belt have to deal with as well. Then again, decades of following the same playbook in downtown investment at the expense of neighborhoods like North Shore Collinwood has paid off this dividend of bad publicity.
Some cities in this region, like Pittsburgh, managed to turn things around and that’s why I have been examining what they are doing down there to see what we up here in Cleveland can do differently. We also need inspired leadership, and an effort by City Hall not to just follow the mayor’s mantra of “it is what is” and improve public services for residents like they promised when we voted for that ! percent income tax hike in 2016. It’s time to stop doing just studies on what needs to be done and just do them. If Detroit area native Dan Gilbert wants to have money spent on the Quicken Loans Arena then he better spend some dollars in Slavic Village or St. Clair Superior. If we get another shot at landing an Amazon type headquarters here, think out of the box and come up with a really good plan and not just offer them a downtown landmark getting empty because Forest City Enterprises is closing up shop (after all the tax dollars and subsidies given to it for projects I must add) but something like what Pittsburgh did at Bakery Square which is in an East Side neighborhood miles from downtown.
The current way of doing things here in Cleveland is not working. Think of this story as a wake up call.