Pennsylvania – Far from supporting CoolTowns (so far)

This new report from the Brookings Institution, Back to Prosperity: A Competitive Agenda for Renewing Pennsylvania, December 2003 can be summed up in this excerpt:

“Pennsylvania’s cities, boroughs, and older townships possess centrality and convenience. They marshal numerous health centers and educational institutions, strong business traditions, and abundant transportation links. And equally important, they offer in abundance the charming town centers, distinctive neighborhoods, and clusters of shops, restaurants, and urban cultural institutions the state requires if it hopes to retain and attract the skilled workers it badly needs.”

Based on these findings, it should be doing well in attracting/retaining graduates and young adults right?

The collective evidence:
– ranks 1st on absolute loss of young workers 1990-2000
– ranks 47th in employment growth and 49th on wage growth
– ranks 30th in residents with a bachelor’s degree
– ranks 2nd for percentage of residents over 65
– 9th largest percentage loss of people 25-34 in 2000
– consumed more land per added resident than all states but Wyoming

The report offers comprehensive government solutions, but what’s really missing (up until when the study was completed) is leadership at the very top with a commitment to investing in its cities and town centers and building ‘CoolTowns’. Once you Pennsylvania’s cities have that, the most innovative policies will write themselves, better than even those suggested in this report.

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