Factory of dreams

I seem to have a strange fascination with local economic development. I’m not an economist. I’m not a politican. I just want the community that I live in to be vibrant, safe and offer opportunity.

I have been following Fortune’s coverage of activities in Detroit. David Whitford wrote a piece about the Russell Industrial Center in Detroit. It reminds of the great work being done in Toronto at 401 Richmond and 215 Spadina by the Urban Space Property Group. And 720 Bathurst now that the Centre for Social Innovation has purchased a building. While the challenges in Toronto were never as large as New York City in the 1970s or Detroit now, I was just shocked listening about the state of a suburb in Pittsburgh.

“We are not a poor town, we are experimental because we’re not a town that’s down on it’s luck” – John Fetterma

John Fetterman, talked about his challenges as the Mayor of Braddock, PA at PopTech 2009. I went to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University and I remember some of the communities. I was fortunate to live in Squirrel Hill, but I remember the first night I spent in Pittsburgh in 1996. But I am more shocked by the economic conditions encountered in Braddock including .

I was just shocked at some of the data:

  • 90% of the population has moved away
  • 90% of the buildings in the community have been lost
  • Median price of a home: US$5,250
  • Median household income: US$17,518

I’m curious about the ongoing impact of the closure of UPMC Braddock post January 31, 2010. This is a story to follow.