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29 January 2009

Rebranding OR Debranding?

The Rust Belt is a region of extremes when it comes to economic success, weather and everything in between. Diversity also lies in the opinions of its inhabitants. Why is it that the "grass is always greener" mentality is stronger amongst the inhabitants of the Rust Belt? Cities such as Cleveland and Pittsburgh have been rated as some of the most livable cities in the US by The Economist and Places Rated Almanac. Yet as recently as today there was a report on about which cities people most want to move to. At the bottom of the list, you guessed it: Detroit and Cleveland (Pittsburgh and Cincinnati were also near the bottom).

Report after report seems to be deliberately attacking our beloved Rust Belt cities. I, for one, do not usually agree with these findings. Why do people want to leave our cities? Perhaps it's more about bad media and branding than the cities themselves. If weather affects people's happiness, then perhaps they have reason to feel such disdain for the cloudy and precipitation-friendly Rust Belt. I, for one, love rain and snow and am happy to be living somewhere in which life can sustain itself...unlike places such as Phoenix, Vegas and Southern California where the cost of having so much sunshine is that of not having enough water for the population.

Perhaps people feel that there aren't enough jobs in the Rust Belt. Well it has been shedding jobs for decades now, but there is hope: Pittsburgh has recently seen an increase in jobs in 2008...YES 2008! While America has seen more job losses in 2008 than it has seen in decades, Pittsburgh is gaining jobs.

So I ask this of you, fellow Rust Belt Friend: help Debrand the negative stereotypes of our beloved region. Every time you hear one "That place is the armpit of America" reply with a "Well, actually it is swarming with cultural institutions" and another "When is the last time you've been to Akron? It's actually fairing pretty well these days." Albeit, try to back up your opinions with facts...and keep them updated. We love our beautiful industrial cities of the past that have so much to gain in the future.

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