Great Lakes Economy May Rest With Investments From Immigrants And Millennials

Jun 23, 2017

Rolf Pendall says flat population hurts the gross regional product and other measures of the economy. But growth for the Great Lakes region may rest with investing in millennials and immigrants who chose to call the region home.
Credit Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

The industrial heartland continues to struggle with the legacy of lost jobs and population. But whether it continues to be known as a rust belt or for its renewal depends on whether Ohio invests in immigrants and young people. 

Rolf Pendall of the Urban Institute acknowledges birth rates are expected to fall behind death rates in the Great Lakes region by 2030.

But he notes that 600,000 babies are born each year in the six states including Ohio. And their parents are the millennials and immigrants their communities often disparage or ignore.

“Welcoming, nurturing and encouraging and accommodating the people who are born here and who decide to come here has to be part of the recipe instead of just longing for those who have gone," Pendall said at the national Federal Reserve summit in Cleveland on Thursday." Longing for the factories that are gone, longing for the millennials who have moved from Columbus to Washington, D.C.”

Pendall says that means investing in pre-K education and other efforts to ensure the health and education of the entire community. The two-day conference is focusing on how education, workforce development and entrepreneurship can benefit low- and moderate-income communities.