Thursday, August 13, 2009

So we have all this cheap housing in Florida and green space

Interesting that these cities are trying to stem the flow of people leaving. In Florida there are record numbers of vacant homes and apartments now at prices that are way affordable thanks in part to the foreclosure process and the overbuilding that occurred here. We even have Aussies coming here to buy houses as they say that they cannot buy a home in Australia as cheaply. People are getting over the global warming thing so the threat of Florida flooding to oblivion is moving further from their minds. People are recognizing that Hurricanes provide warning so you can do something about it. Houses and condos that have been built are done so to Hurricane proof standards. With the drive to dividends companies will move headquarters to States that have no State tax like Florida. The flood from the northern cities I predict will not abate but increase as we have all this brand new infrastructure built here that is underutilized as well as great weather 12 months a year! The cities up North have old infrastructure that is crumbling and horrible weather at least 6 months a year.

'Fastest Dying Cities' Meet for a Lively Talk

DAYTON, Ohio -- Here's an idea for saving Rust Belt cities: Tell bloggers and radio stations to stop calling your town a basket case.

That was one suggestion from representatives of eight of the 10 cities labeled last year as America's fastest dying. They met at the Dayton Convention Center last weekend to swap ideas about how to halt the long skid that's turned cities like Detroit, Cleveland and Buffalo, N.Y., into shorthand for dystopia.

The city representatives lunched on $6 sloppy Joes and commiserated through Power Point strategy sessions: Lure back former residents, entice entrepreneurs and artists, convert blighted pockets into parkland.

What emerged was a sense of desperation over the difficulty of rebounding from both real problems -- declining populations, dwindling tax bases -- and perceived woes.

Valarie McCall expressed frustration at marketing a city that still echoed the image of the polluted Cuyahoga River catching fire. "That was 1969," said Ms. McCall, Cleveland's chief of governmental affairs. "Come on, I wasn't even born then."

Last year, used long-term trends of unemployment, population loss and economic output to devise a list of "America's Fastest Dying Cities." A few months later, Peter Benkendorf was eating chicken tacos when he hatched the idea for the symposium.

Mr. Benkendorf, a 47-year-old Dayton resident, said he was angry the article ignored efforts by the cities to attract small businesses and entrepreneurs. He thinks these cities are poised for reinvention.

"For a long time, people thought granddaddy was going to come back and make everything all right again," said Mr. Benkendorf, referring to the manufacturers that decades ago built the economies of cities like Dayton. "People have begun to realize that's not going to happen."

Mr. Benkendorf, who directs an arts program affiliated with the University of Dayton, named the symposium, "Ten Living Cities." Dayton skeptics called it "Deathfest."

One was college student Joe Sack, 22. "It's like a gambling addict [trying] to help an alcoholic," he said while at work in a coffee shop. "It's hard to see what they can learn from each other."

Dayton, which has a population of 155,000, has since 1970 has lost more than 1,000 manufacturing jobs a year and a third of its residents. NCR -- the cash-register and ATM maker -- once employed more than 20,000 here. This summer the company said it would move its headquarters and 1,000 jobs to Georgia.

The cities' meeting began Saturday with Forbes reporter Joshua Zumbrun telling the city representatives and about 100 visitors that his story was among his most popular. Then he apologized for any hurt feelings.

Representatives of Dayton, Detroit, Cleveland, Buffalo; Canton and Youngstown, Ohio; Flint, Mich.; and Charleston, W.Va., took turns talking about their plans. There was little discussion of how cities might pay for the initiatives.

Dayton Mayor Rhine McLin ran to the podium for her talk. "If you look under the surface, you will see that we are developing a boutique city," she said. She didn't elaborate on what she meant.

But the city is working with hospitals, universities and a U.S. Air Force base to rebuild neighborhoods. About 500 abandoned structures will be razed this year with $3.5 million in federal stimulus money. Neighbors can annex the empty lots or the city will plant prairie grass and call them parks, said John Gower, Dayton's director of planning and community development.

"We can't go back and recreate the neighborhoods of the 1950s and 1960s, but we have a huge opportunity to create a new form for our cities," Mr. Gower said. "People want to live in beautiful places near green space."

In a historic reversal, the cities are embracing plans that emphasize growing smaller. In Buffalo, where more than a third of the students drop out of high school, Michael Gainer, executive director of Buffalo ReUse, is putting young people to work dismantling some of the thousands of abandoned homes and selling the scrap materials.

A councilman from Charleston described how the city lured "The Worlds Strongest Man Competition." It was shown several times on ESPN, she said.

Matt Bach, public relations manager for Flint's convention and visitors bureau, said the image most closely linked to Flint was a scene from Michael Moore's 1989 documentary "Roger and Me": a woman skinning a rabbit to make a fur coat. The Dayton audience groaned in sympathy.

Mr. Bach described how he is fighting back. After a Canadian radio station aired a "This Ain't Flint" campaign to cheer up listeners depressed about Ottawa's economy, Mr. Bach orchestrated a letter-writing and email effort to stop the ads. The station awarded Flint more than $60,000 in free radio time that Flint used to air spots about vacationing in Michigan.

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams talked of helping startup companies. This month, his city was named by Entrepreneur Magazine as one of the 10 best in the U.S. to start a business.

Mr. Williams, a tall 37-year-old with a background in banking, argued that some who have moved out of Youngstown may consider moving back. A University of Pittsburgh demographer is tracking former residents with the idea of telling them about the city's new direction. "We don't want to force anything on them," said John Slanina, a Youngstown native working on the project. "But we want people to know, 'Hey, Youngstown is changing, take a look.'"

Mr. Slanina said he's optimistic about the future of his hometown. But for now he lives in Columbus, Ohio, and has no plans to move back


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So in the 90's in Aussie the unions lost power.Interesting what a crisis can do and growth stops

Seattle Frets as Boeing Looks South for Sites

Aircraft Maker's Search for a New Dreamliner Assembly Plant Poses a Threat to Big Machinists Union a

SEATTLE -- The 787 Dreamliner, Boeing Co.'s marquee project, is about two years behind schedule, but another big worry has emerged: Is the company expanding in the South, where unions are weaker, instead of here?

Boeing, the area's largest employer, has said in recent weeks that it would likely choose a site for a second 787 assembly line, possibly in South Carolina, by the end of the year. The current assembly line is in Everett, Wash., 30 minutes north of Seattle.

Associated Press

Boeing workers probe a 787 Dreamliner's front landing gear.Seattle Frets as Boeing Looks South for Sites

The prospect of a second site outside the state of Washington has spread anxiety throughout the state's aerospace industry. Boeing's largest union is galvanizing against the plan.

"Obviously, it would be a blow to the region if they go elsewhere," said Connie Kelliher, spokeswoman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers local union, which represents about 25,000 Boeing machinists in Washington.

Boeing's decadelong reliance on Seattle as its major manufacturing hub for commercial aircraft has allowed the union to retain its muscle, even as unions in sectors from steel to textiles have seen their power wane amid low-cost competition from Asia.

But the myriad problems associated with Boeing's 787, considered the most sophisticated commercial plane ever designed, have suddenly handed the company an opportunity to cut some ties with the union.

Design issues and difficulties in coordinating the 787's hundreds of suppliers have created massive delays for the new plane. Last fall, the machinists union -- partly because it was upset Boeing had farmed out significant parts of the 787 construction to contractors -- staged a debilitating 57-day strike at factories around Seattle. That set the project back even further. It was the union's fourth strike in 20 years.

Boeing is considering a second assembly site for the 787 in part because it must ramp up production to make up for the repeated delays. Some Southern states, where Boeing is said to be looking, are right-to-work states, which don't require employees to join a union if one exists at a company.

Last week, 400 people gathered in a convention center in Lynnwood, a suburb of Seattle, to listen to politicians and industry officials air their concerns about the prospect of Boeing establishing a commercial aircraft beachhead outside the state. "The industry brings in tens of thousands of jobs and serves as a magnet to draw in other aviation-related employers to the region," Michael Zubovic, chairman of the Aerospace Futures Alliance in Washington, said at last week's conference. "We're going to have to work hard to preserve our leadership position in this industry."

Associated Press

Workers paint the company's colors on a jet, right, in late April in Everett, Wash. The company delayed the first test flight of the plane once again in late June.Seattle Frets as Boeing Looks South for Sites

On the same day, Boeing's head of the 787 program, Scott Fancher, was in North Charleston, S.C., where Boeing recently acquired a factory from one of its Dreamliner suppliers, Vought Aircraft Industries Inc. The supplier was a struggling link in the 787 supply chain, and last month Boeing said it would pay nearly $1 billion to purchase the operation from Vought and convert it into a Boeing facility. Boeing could choose to build the second Dreamliner assembly site at that location.

Mr. Fancher told a local newspaper that Boeing was looking at sites in both Washington and South Carolina to house a new final assembly plant for its 787. Industry observers say the company is also looking at sites in Texas and elsewhere in the South. A Boeing spokeswoman said she couldn't confirm or deny that the additional sites were being considered.

Since 1916, when William Boeing launched his first seaplane in Seattle's Lake Union, the region has been the backbone of the nation's commercial airplane industry. Today, Boeing employs 74,000 people in Washington and is a major economic driver in the region.

But Boeing has been gradually creeping away from its Seattle roots. Its defense business is based near St. Louis, and in 2001 the company moved its headquarters to an office building in Chicago, in part to reshape its image away from primarily a commercial airplane company.

"We were once a Puget Sound-based company with customers all over the world," Fred Kiga, Boeing's vice president of state and local government relations, said last week at the aerospace conference. "Boeing today is a global company competing in a global marketplace."

But he said there is "an opportunity for conversation" with the machinists union. He added: "Let's not be lulled into thinking the future of our state's aerospace industry is simply a question of labor and management." He said Washington state, too, must keep itself competitive as other states try to lure Boeing's business away.