Reshaping Ohio for the Next Economy

Bruce Katz
Bruce Katz Founding Director of the Nowak Metro Finance Lab - Drexel University

February 22, 2010

On the release date of “Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities For the Next Economy,” Bruce Katz appeared in Columbus, the state’s capital, to deliver remarks on how Ohio can create jobs, boost innovation and build a sustainable economy.

Thank you Lavea for that concise overview of the Restoring Prosperity report and for the strong partnership with Greater Ohio over these past few years.

I also want to thank Senator Sherrod Brown, Lt. Governor Lee Fisher, Chief Justice Tom Moyer, and our distinguished panelists for being here today, as we come together to think about how to move Ohio forward.

As Ohioans know all too well, the “Great Recession” has been a wake up call.The housing sector is battered, and your communities are littered with foreclosures.  The manufacturing sector has lost almost 150,000 jobs over the duration of the recession.  Income tax receipts dropped 36 percent in the past one year.

It is time to get back on track and lay the foundation for a radically different kind of growth both in Ohio and in the nation.

In that spirit, this report makes the following propositions:

First, the shape of the next American economy must be export-oriented, low carbon, and innovation fueled.  This is a vision where we export more and waste less, innovate in what matters, produce and deploy more of what we invent.  This is the kind of productive and sustainable economy that must emerge from the rubble of this recession.

Second, Ohio has some strengths—both historic and emerging—that will help it find a stable footing in the next economy.  In many cases, these strengths have been nurtured and amplified by smart policy decisions at the state level and far-sighted collaborative efforts at the metropolitan level. 

Finally, to build the next economy, the state and its metros need to do three essential things:

  • Build on the assets in its metropolitan areas that will drive prosperity in the future
  • Catalyze transformative changes in governance at the state and metropolitan level
  • Engage and align with the federal government, to maximize new opportunities and tailor the federal response to the challenges that states like Ohio are facing now.

The agenda we propose is ambitious—and realizing it will not be easy. 

Ohio has been hit very hard.  Not only has the current recession been devastating, but the state never fully recovered from the last recession.  The broad restructuring of the economy, from the auto industry to manufacturing more generally, has presented brutal challenges to the state for decades. 

Your challenge, America’s challenge, is to convert the dynamism emerging in Ohio’s metropolitan areas into solutions that are pragmatic, far reaching and critical to this moment.  The most important action you take in the aftermath of this recession is to build for the future.  The stakes could not be higher.

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