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Marketplace

Cities rethink their future by looking to the past

David Brancaccio Jun 26, 2015
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Places that used to be industrial powerhouses have lately shot for a tech angle in their branding, jockeying to be labeled the next Silicon Valley. But increasingly, regions are rethinking their futures by looking to their past.

Ariella Cohen, editor-in-chief of a nonprofit online publication called Next City, thinks it’s a good thing. A recent article on the site titled “Cleveland Wants to Make Sure the Next Wright Brothers Come From the Rust Belt” argues that moving forward can be about realizing what you’re not.

“I think people are beginning to recognize that they’re not Silicon Anything,” she says. Cohen points out that the legacy of manufacturing and the infrastructure that still exists in cities like Cleveland and Detroit make them more suitable for an industry that makes things.

“In all these cases, what’s really important is that the business community is talking with the universities,” she adds. Youngstown, Ohio, for example, has a community college that has built a makers’ studio. The studio, in turn, provides job opportunities and training.

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