Legacy cities, like Detroit, Dayton, Cleveland, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo and Rochester, N.Y., have historically been America’s critical urban economic drivers, tied to the national interest. However, dealing with declining manufacturing trends, these places have suffered decades of population loss and are afflicted with varying levels of high unemployment, poverty, and vacancy rates, as well as low income levels.
Now, the COVID-19 pandemic is creating a whole new set of challenges for America’s legacy cities. Putting these places on the road to recovery and prosperity is key to mitigating harmful regional imbalances in the U.S. economy, and their demographic legacies make them linchpins in the country’s efforts to achieve greater racial equity. Ensuring prosperity in these cities will not only yield economic benefits for our nation but also advance social progress.
On Wednesday, October 7, the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program hosted an event focused on the unique opportunity to build on past momentum and forge a racially equitable recovery in America’s legacy cities. The event featured leaders who are spearheading innovative public-private collaborations, creating access to capital for small and minority-owned businesses, building workforce development pipelines, and fostering entrepreneurial ecosystems.