Published December 27, 2012
I was moved by the tragic effect of Hurricane Sandy. The effects were massive and hopefully not soon repeated. However, according to a report in the journal “Nature Climate Change”, weather trends indicate a high probability of mega storms hitting the northeastern US more often in the future. New York’s Mayor Bloomberg stated “Our climate is changing. – This week’s devastation – should compel all elected leaders to take immediate action. Given the entire “fiscal cliff” debacle being debated in Washington, Congress can’t balance a checkbook, let alone control the weather (I think). So, if storms repeat in the northeast, the price of property insurance will sky rocket. Federal assistance will dry up. A divestment will occur in coastal properties potentially creating investment in Midwest locations like the Mahoning Valley if we are ready for it. It is in our best interest to define, formalize, and advertise an incentive package to entice weather torn businesses or talented displaced storm victims. A targeted lifeline should be a cooperative effort amongst our entire region and well known to all.
According to US Census results, many regions in Ohio and throughout the Midwest have suffered extreme population decline due to lack of employment opportunities. Our urban centers and suburbs have numerous foreclosed and abandoned properties. Crime incident is high and drug usage is higher. Mahoning Valley leaders have been addressing this issue head on over the last three decades. This is evident by the resurgence in downtown Youngstown and the technology start-ups at the Youngstown Business Incubator in the midst of a global downturn. However, our urban and suburban neighborhoods are still in need of additional strategies to reutilize or eliminate abandoned properties.
A bright side to our regional economics is that we are experiencing resurgence on a number of commercial fronts. Our unemployment rate is now below the national average. But a recent article in the Youngstown Vindicator by Burton Speakman pointed out troubles experienced by the shale industry finding local qualified workers that can pass a drug test.
Traditionally the Mahoning Valley has had a low occurrence of advanced degrees. We should continue to provide training to the current valley residents, but we should also lure existing talent or investment capital into the mix. This will increase learning and productivity for all. In a sense, we are in constant competition with other regions for the nation’s most productive citizens.
Consider an incentive package that includes unilateral contributions to create the Mahoning Valley Welcome Wagon(MVWW). My initial outline is below:
1. Job placement/entrepreneurial assistance (starting at County One Stop)
- If we need you, then you and your family are in!
2. Pass a drug test
3. Volunteer transportation or mass transit fee to the valley if needed
4. Free or reduced price home from the county land banks
5. Property tax abatement
6. Volunteers like Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation and Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership might help get the home livable
7. Reduced tuition to YSU or some other local learning institution for the new employee or a family member
8. Reduced or free WRTA passes for a period of time
These are a few ideas of mine but it will be up to you all as productive citizens of the Mahoning Valley to help fill in the gaps. Contributions and critiques to the MVRC plan are welcomed on my blog!