Cities in Transition
A sustainable network for leaders from Flint, Detroit, Cleveland, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh supported by the Surdna Foundation and the Kresge Foundation and organized by the German Marshall Fund of the United States
The Cities in Transition Initiative is a three-year project designed to build a sustained network of leading policymakers and practitioners in five older industrial U.S. cities: Detroit and Flint, Michigan; Cleveland and Youngstown, Ohio; and the greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania region.
Through three annual study tours supplemented by series of working meetings and policy workshops, participants in this network work together closely to articulate critical policy challenges facing their communities and to identify ways to adapt innovative solutions that European older industrial cities have implemented to address the myriad challenges associated with urban disinvestment and economic restructuring. In each of its three years, the project will zero in on a different policy area affecting these cities.
Year Three (2012-13): The Educonomy Alignment
In 2012-2013, the Cities in Transition project focused on exploring the importance of talent in urban and regional economic development systems. This year of the project looked at how cities and regions are developing strategic links between their economic development goals and education, workforce, and skill development policies.
Year Three Study Tour to Bonn, Dortmund, and Stuttgart, Germany
In November 2012, GMF led a delegation from the five U.S. cities on a trip to Bonn, Dortmund, and Stuttgart, Germany to explore how the cities of Dortmund and Stuttgart are working towards the “Educonomy” alignment.
Year Two (2011-12): Economic Development - Regional Strategies and Placemaking
In 2011-2012, the Cities in Transition project focused on regional approaches to economic development and explored their relationship to place-based strategies – that is, strategies that capitalize on a place’s unique assets and that envision economic and community development as two parts of a single process. Programming explored whether and how European cities have developed regional approaches to economic redevelopment and linked these approaches with community and economic revitalization efforts in core cities.
Year Two Study Tour to the Ruhr and Barcelona
In September 2011, GMF led a delegation from the five U.S. cities, the White House, and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development on a trip to the Ruhr region of Germany, to study its approaches to building regional cohesion around economic growth; and to Barcelona, Spain, to focus on neighborhood-scale revitalization around the 22@Barcelona project.
In June 2011, GMF hosted a workshop bringing together key leaders in Youngstown to discuss best practices in linking community and economic development and to explore the possibility of Youngstown developing a similar strategy.
In July 2011, GMF convened Year One and Year Two participants for a workshop in Cleveland. The workshop served as an opportunity both to deepen the conversation on key themes from the Year One study tour and to brainstorm on key questions for the Year Two study tour, with an eye toward understanding the linkages between the two years.
Year One (2010-11): Shrinking Cities - Land Use and Vacant Properties
In 2010-2011, the Cities in Transition Initiative focused on the challenges that arise from physical transformations occurring in a built environment that has been left behind by rapidly shifting settlement patterns. In cities in the United States’ Rust Belt and elsewhere, trends of decreasing population and suburbanization have sapped the vibrancy of many core city neighborhoods, leaving them vulnerable to blight and not dense enough to support a healthy civic life.
Year One Study Tour to Leipzig and Manchester
In December 2010, GMF led a delegation of representatives from the five U.S. cities and from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development on a trip to Leipzig and Manchester, each of which has implemented successful strategies to bring population and life back to its urban core.