Publications by Barbara Ray

As owner of HiredPen, Barbara specializes in social media and strategic communications for nonprofits and research organizations.

How Resilient to Shocks are the Top 10 “Eds and Meds” Metros?

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

12.23.2011 | Our prior blog post examined the top ten metros for “eds and meds” (education and health care) concentration. Increasing a metro area’s meds and eds industries can boost all residents’ earnings, the study found—and meds more so than eds. I was curious after reading the study how the top-10 “eds and meds” metros fare on BRR’s Resilience Capacity Index (RCI)—another tool in the economic development arsenal. The RCI captures a metro region’s ability or capacity to respond to a future stress, like a major economic shift or a natural disaster.

Overall, the metro areas with high concentrations of eds and meds didn’t fare so well, with a few exceptions. (more…)

Eds and Meds as a metropolitan economic development strategy

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

12.21.11 | Brown University recently opened a $45 million medical school in downtown Providence, RI, in an old jewelry factor three miles from its campus headquarters—a very telling and smart move. It’s telling because the medical school is filling the space of a declining industry (manufacturing) with two growth sectors—education and health care, or “eds and meds.” It’s a smart move because both have been shown to spark larger economic development for a metro area.

How smart? (more…)

Service Workers Can’t Find Affordable Housing in Most Metro Areas

Friday, December 16th, 2011

12.15.2011 | As you buy that latest gadget at Best Buy this holiday season, or wait for the new flat screen tv to be delivered, or as the department store elf helps your five-year-old onto Santa’s lap, know this: the person who delivered your tv or stocked the shelf or rang up the sale most likely can’t find a place to live that doesn’t eat up more than about 30% of their take-home pay. Ho-ho-ho. (more…)

Gerrymandering nixes opportunity for regional collaboration

Friday, December 9th, 2011

12. 9. 2011 |  ”It used to be that the idea was, once every two years voters elected their representatives, and now, instead, it’s every ten years the representatives choose their constituents.” Ah, gerrymandering. That quote by Stanford Law Professor Pamela Karlan pretty much sums it up. And it’s time once again.

Unfortunately, gerrymandering–or the more polite “redistricting”– seldom serves the best interests of the constituents. It does, however, offer a lesson of why metropolitan regionalism struggles to take root. (more…)

Walking the Walk: How Messy Regionalism Offers Opportunity for Change

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

12.7.2011 | The Rockefeller Brothers Fund and The Citistates Group hosted an important discussion on regionalism in Tarrytown, New York, last month, where business and nonprofit leaders, academics, writers, and former mayors gathered at the Pocantico Center to discuss the role of states in promoting or obstructing regional governance.

Luckily for those of us who were not there, several attendees posted their impressions of discussions with blog posts at  Their ideas provide a helpful reminder of what options for regional action might look like on the ground, especially if we can look beyond the day-to-day struggles of planning and governance to a longer-term vision. (more…)

St. Louis County’s Billion-Dollar Problem: Foreclosures

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011

11.29.2011 | This afternoon, the Center for Housing Policy is hosting a webinar on “resilience in the face of foreclosures,” which draws on the work of BRR member Todd Swanstrom and others. We encourage you to check it out. In the meantime, in this post, Swanstrom calculates the losses from foreclosures in one of the case study sites, St. Louis (not featured in today’s webinar), and makes the case for mediation.   (more…)

Sustainable living + regionalism = ecodistricts?

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2011

Attempting to move beyond the “one building at a time” model of building sustainable communities, ecodistricts–sustainability at the neighborhood scale– are gaining ground.  Makes me wonder if ecodistricts could be a new driver for regional sustainability planning. (more…)

Can housing vouchers break up concentrated poverty?

Monday, November 14th, 2011

11.14.2011  | Two recent reports on efforts to break up concentrated poverty prompted me to pull out my copy of William Julius Wilson’s seminal read, “The Truly Disadvantaged.” Dipping into it again makes me realize just how prescient that book, published in 1987, was. The recent efforts to move families out of neighborhoods with high poverty and nearer jobs are in some respects a test of his theories–and those theories hold up pretty well.   (more…)

Concentrated poverty is increasingly a regional issue

Friday, November 4th, 2011

suburban Aurora, IL, sees rising concentrated poverty

11.4.11 Concentrated poverty is on the rise in many parts of the country–particularly in the suburbs–and as a new report by the Brookings Institution says, its challenges of are becoming more regional in scope.

The report, by Elizabeth Kneebone, compares concentrated poverty (census tracts where at least 40% of the population live in poverty) from 2000 and a five-year average of 2005-2009. Essentially, what progress we made as a nation in the 1990s of “de-concentrating” poverty has been largely erased. (more…)

Bringing production back home

Tuesday, November 1st, 2011

11.01.11 | Today we reblog an article published in the July 2011 issue of the “Neoeconomist“ by Network member Ned Hill and John R. Brandt, CEO and founder of The MPI Group, a Cleveland-based research firm. The Neoeconomist Magazine is a forum for the Northeast Ohio region’s business and thought leaders.

The authors look at the trend of manufacturing returning to the United States from offshore and which fields in Northeast, Ohio, are best positioned to capitalize on this encouraging trend. (more…)