A History of Innovation

Reinvention Cities of Ohio is the new face of Ohio’s 16 small legacy cities - cities with an industrial past who have lost population since their 20th century peaks.

Ohio’s Reinvention Cities have long been key in building the state’s middle-class prosperity due to their rich histories of industry, innovation, and civic leadership. Yet global economic changes have challenged these communities, and an absence of supportive state policy has weakened their abilities’ to transition and thrive under new economic realities. In response to these challenges, key leaders representing the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors from small legacy cities have formed the Reinvention Cities network, which works to advocate for shared policy goals and promote learning among peer cities.

To present a bold vision for the future of their communities, a bipartisan, cross-sector network of leaders from small legacy cities released “A Vision for Ohio’s Reinvention Cities.” Endorsed by more than thirty organizations representing the private, public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors, this forward-looking agenda outlines achievable state policies that are key to ensuring the revitalization of Ohio’s Reinvention Cities.

Peer Learning

Reinvention Cities of Ohio are sharing best practices from different communities across Ohio. Together, members are learning what works best to revitalize communities like theirs. The size of these cities provides unique challenges as well as unique opportunities. By bringing together all sectors, the network is breaking down barriers and creating a shared vision.

Policy Advancement

Stewarded by the Greater Ohio Policy Center, these cities are working to identify, develop, and advocate for policy solutions. The network urges Ohio's state lawmakers to enact the policies outlined in the "Vision for Ohio's Reinvention Cities" to support their communities as they transition to be fully competitive in the 21st Century economy and provide opportunity for their residents to thrive.

Presenting a Vision

The vision document proposes workable solutions that can be adopted by candidates and policymakers from both sides of the aisle as they work to strengthen these communities that are essential for ensuring Ohio’s future prosperity. Click here to download the vision document.


GOPC's Research on Small Legacy Cities

Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) develops and advances policies and practices that value our urban cores and metropolitan regions as economic drivers and preserve Ohio’s open space and farmland. GOPC has focused on the particular needs of smaller legacy cities and its research into successful revitalization strategies informed the policies laid out in the vision document above.

Revitalizing America's Smaller Legacy Cities

In this report published by the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, authors Hollingsworth and Goebel examine the trajectories of 24 smaller legacy cities across 7 states from 2000 to 2015.  Five Ohio cities are included in the report – Akron, Dayton, Hamilton, Lima, and Youngstown. The authors found that while many of these cities are facing severe challenges, strong and collaborative local leadership can help these communities forge a path forward.

From Akron to Zanesville: How Are Ohio’s Small and Mid-Sized Legacy Cities Faring?

Ohio’s small and mid-sized legacy cities—older industrial cities with populations greater than 20,000 situated in metropolitan areas with less than 1 million residents—are important contributors to Ohio’s economy and social fabric. Like Ohio’s larger legacy cities—Cincinnati and Cleveland—these cities faced decades of serious challenges stemming from population loss and the decline of large-scale manufacturing that were further compounded by the Great Recession.


The Reinvention Cities Network is made possible through generous grants from Allen Economic Development Group, the Nord Family Foundation, the Raymond John Wean Foundation, and the Richland Community Foundation