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Greater Ohio Partners with German Marshall Fund in Transatlantic Shrinking Cities Project

Greater Ohio Policy Center announced it has entered into a partnership with the German Marshall Fund (GMF) of the United States in Washington, D.C. and will play a leadership role in a new three-year GMF project, Cities in Transition: Shrinking Cities. The project will provide unique opportunities for Ohio’s local and state leaders to learn from European cities’ rebuilding practices. “This initiative aligns directly with Greater Ohio’s ongoing work to address challenges in Ohio’s ‘shrinking cities’ and provides a golden opportunity to evaluate successful European policies and practices for their application to Ohio’s cities, as well as inform state and national policies crafted for Ohio’s many older industrial cities of all sizes,” said Greater Ohio’s Executive Director Lavea Brachman. “Ohio is ‘ground zero’ for ‘cities in transition,’ so our state and our cities truly can benefit disproportionately from this initiative.”

The project is designed to build a sustained network of leading policymakers and practitioners from several older industrial U.S. cities and to provide opportunities to examine European practices for their applicability in the United States. Through tours, meetings and charrettes, participants from five selected cities – including Youngstown and Cleveland in Ohio – will work together to articulate policy challenges in their communities and identify and adapt successful innovative strategies adopted by European older industrial cities to address the myriad challenges arising from physical transformations associated with disinvestment and economic restructuring.

Brachman has been named a 2010-11 GMF senior fellow based in Columbus as the practitioner in the field who will help shape and lead the first year of this initiative, which focuses on land use and physical revitalization efforts. Representatives from participating U.S. cities will analyze and determine applicability of successful European policies and practices, such as “shrinking in order to grow,” in order to draw out and implement key elements that can contribute to addressing the complex challenges surrounding vacant properties and other land use issues in their communities.

They will also work together to identify state and federal level policy changes that would be critical to help implement changes on the ground and facilitate the transferability of these policies from the European to American context.  The project will be launched in October with a one-day stakeholder meeting. Also planned is a December 2010 study tour to Leipzig, Germany and Manchester, England, both demonstrating successful shrinking strategies.

The Greater Ohio-GMF partnership aligns with Greater Ohio’s on-going work implementing the comprehensive blueprint, Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities for the Next Economy, that it released to position Ohio for the next economy and with pilot projects Greater Ohio is planning with partners in cities around the state that link these recommendations to effective and new ways for Ohio’s cities to redevelop.  In related work, Greater Ohio also jointly released a white paper with Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, Ohio’s Cities at a Turning Point: Finding the Way Forward, specifically focused on the “shrinking city” phenomenon in Ohio.