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From Balkanized Cleveland to Global Cleveland

In a paper funded by Ohio City, Inc. authors Piiparinen and Russell of Strategic Urban Solutions propose a theory on how to revitalize Cleveland’s economy and their answer stems from two main ideas – migration and neighborhood development. Contrary to popular belief, Cleveland ranks low in terms of residents leaving the area, currently 34th in the country. Cities such as New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles all rank ahead of Cleveland in this category. However, Cleveland lacks immigration as well, coming in at 47th in the country. The lack of immigration and emigration from Cleveland creates a unique scenario in which social mobility becomes almost impossible, where the rich close themselves off to the working and middle classes, and ethnic groups close themselves off to the community as well.

Piiparinen and Russell provide a solution: migration “churn,” or demographic dynamism. With an influx of immigrants, both foreign and domestic, comes new knowledge and information, which in turn drive the modern economy. However, the stress is not on consumptive capacity, but rather the city’s global interconnectivity. Piiparinen and Russell claim the Cleveland has a unique opportunity to become an example of a diverse and emerging city due to its recent gentrification trends citing increased diversity. However, this diversity does not necessarily equate to integration. The authors point to the community and social capital leaders, and state that these leaders must ensure that the “creative class” enclaves do not lead to negative economic outcomes for the lower classes. Nevertheless, Piiparinen and Russell show the importance of immigration to Cleveland, and how it will fuel its economic growth and success