Publications by Barbara Ray

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

The Adventures (of quoting) Ozzie and Harriet

Monday, October 31st, 2011

10.31.11 | By Edward (Ned) Hill

Last week I was quoted in a New York Times article on poverty in suburban Cleveland that was widely distributed, including on the BRR blog.  What was fascinating was the response to the quote, which appeared as the “Quotation of the Day” in the Times, Chicago Tribune, and in columns in papers from Salt Lake’s Desert News to Winnipeg’s daily paper. It also showed up blogs that ranged from and the Maddow Blog to something called Balloon Juice. Sparkaction did the dailies one better by making it the quote of the week.  (more…)

Cluster Development as an Economic Driver for Inner Cities

Tuesday, October 25th, 2011

11.24.2011 |  “Latch on to any cluster you have and upgrade it. There is no bad cluster.”

—Michael Porter, professor, Harvard Business School, CEO ICIC.

When casting about for ways to spark innovation and economic growth, many metro areas opt to poach from neighboring states or court a certain industry with tax breaks and other incentives. Rather than looking at one’s neighbors as competitors, metros should look across state or local lines to their region’s strengths, legacy industries, and population, and band together instead.

At a recent conference of the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, founder and chairman of  Michael Porter, spoke of such cooperation in the form of clusters and their power to spark development.  (more…)

Regionalism is not the answer, it’s the question

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

“All roads to regionalism go through local governance,” Bill Barnes told a gathering at College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs at University of Illinois, Chicago, on October 10. Barnes is a Network member and director of Emerging Issues at the National League of Cities.

Yet it might be a tough road for regionalism, given the fiscal straits local governments face today. As the 26th annual City Fiscal Conditions report by the National League of Cities finds, the fiscal vise is squeezing municipal budgets, people are losing their jobs, road and bridge projects are being cancelled. Think your alley will be plowed by city workers this winter? Think again.

So what effect will this have on regionalism? (more…)

Adapting legacy industries and creating clusters of innovation

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

10.12.11 |  Today we reblog an article published in the May 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 pose the key question for regions: how do you innovate using the talent and tools developed in a legacy industry? (more…)

Chicago Foreclosure Program Targets Entire Neighborhoods

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

10.5.11 | Chicago is attacking the foreclosure crisis with a new approach. Rather than shoveling snow in a snowstorm, addressing one foreclosure at a time, the city is targeting subsections of nine of the hardest hit neighborhoods with a pool of money and support.

The foreclosure problem “needs a neighborhood approach,” Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in announcing the Micro-Market Recovery Program over the summer. “It needs a comprehensive, integrated approach rather than home-by-home because the system is too big and complicated for that alone.” (more…)

BRR researchers discuss the plight of cities in the recession on PBS Newshour

Friday, September 30th, 2011

A “vicious merry-go-round of bad news” –that’s the sentiment of three experts on the fiscal state of metropolitan America today after five straight years of declining city revenues.

BRR Network members Christopher Hoene and Howard Wial discussed their latest findings on the state of the nation’s cities on PBS News Hour (watch the video) on September 27. (more…)

Addressing the skills mismatch with regional planning

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Governments have few quick-fix tools in their arsenal to help their region rebound from an economic shock like a deep recession or an industry collapse. While we would all love a silver bullet for ailing economies, the reality is, there is no such thing. Economies take time and planning to reset their course. And key to plotting the new long-term course is an educated workforce–an area where government does play a role.

As a recent report by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce put it, “The days are long gone–and they’re aren’t coming back” when a high school grad could walk into a factory and land a good-paying job. The economy has shifted to higher-skilled jobs requiring more and more education, even in manufacturing. (more…)

Great Lakes region rebounds

Wednesday, September 21st, 2011

9.21.11 | The Great Lakes region, once a resiliency poster child for what-not-to-do is, according to a new report, among the most resilient regions emerging from the recession. Nate Berg, writing for the new Atlantic Cities project, reports that the Great Lakes is on a bit of a tear economically, largely thanks to manufacturing. Reporting on the latest Brookings Institution Metro Monitor report, he notes that, “The 21 metropolitan areas of the Great Lakes region are among the most resilient areas coming out of the recession.”

“In a bit of a surprise,” he continues, it is the metro areas with the strongest ties to auto manufacturing that are rebounding the fastest, including Detroit, Youngstown, Akron, Grand Rapids, Madison, and Toledo.  Detroit and Youngstown, which were hit extremely hard, and have been emblematic of the decline in U.S. manufacturing since the 1970s, enjoyed manufacturing job gains of 10 and 19 percent, respectively, between the second quarters of 2010 and 2011.  Of course, as Berg also notes, they remain still far in the hole, having recovered only about 16-30% of their original lost manufacturing jobs since the recession. (more…)

Keys to success for regional transit-oriented development

Tuesday, September 13th, 2011

Transit-oriented development by necessity brings a lot of people to the table, from state departments of transportation to metropolitan planning councils to business leaders, real estate developers,  nonprofit groups and community residents. But how does this collaboration jump beyond good intentions to effect real change? Two reports take on this question. (more…)

New book on a resilient New Orleans six years after Katrina

Tuesday, September 6th, 2011

In this summer of disasters, from Hurricane Irene to the devastating earthquake in Japan to the wildfires in Arizona, a new book looks back on how one area—New Orleans—rebuilt after the destruction of Hurricane Katrina. Resilience and Opportunity (Brookings Institution Press, 2011) draws on the lessons learned in the hurricane’s wake and chronicles the capacities needed to rebound.

We sat down with Amy Liu and Kathryn Foster to talk about resiliency and how New Orleans is capitalizing on its strong social ties in rebuilding a better New Orleans. BRR member Kathryn Foster wrote the introductory chapter framing the ideas of resilience and opportunity, and Amy Liu, BRR member and codirector and cofounder of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution, is the book’s editor, along with Roland V. Anglin, Richard M. Mizelle, Jr., and Allison Plyer. (more…)