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Why do Rust Belt rivals Cleveland and Pittsburgh have diverging economies?


The Andy Warhol bridge frames the skyline of downtown Pittsburgh. AP CLEVELAND, Ohio – Pittsburgh’s regional economy has grown much faster than Cleveland’s over the past two decades leading people to wonder: What did Pittsburgh get right and what did Cleveland get wrong?

Those are tough questions to answer given the complexities of economic development, said Richey Piiparinen, director of urban theory and analytics at the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.

But he gives it a shot by laying out the evidence in a newly published report that compares Cleveland to Pittsburgh – as opposed to, say, Columbus or Cincinnati – because the Rust Belt rivals have more in common, and that could lead to a more fruitful discussion, he told and The Plain Dealer.

Experts have provided a variety of explanations for the diverging economies, from policy differences at the state level, to the relative strength of each city’s anchor institutions, including its universities, to the exposure each has had to the global economy.

But what’s certain in Piiparinen’s mind is that a more holistic, less siloed approach to economic development is called for in Cleveland, and it should begin with innovation, centered around research and development.

“Cleveland […]

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