Senator Sherrod Brown will be the keynote speaker at a Summit in Cleveland on March 12, 2018, the next city stop on a momentous road show across the Heartland. Supported by the Bernard L. Schwartz Rediscovering Government Initiative of The Century Foundation, a progressive, nonpartisan think tank, the convening is part of a High Wage America campaign focused on best practices around jobs and investments to transform the regional economy, help rebuild industrial hometowns and create higher paying, productive economy jobs. Organized in close collaboration with the AFL-CIO and Cleveland based PolicyMattersOhio, it is the third event of the “High Wage America” campaign.
The convening is co-sponsored by the SVA’s Heartland Network (HCS) and a growing coalition of jobs and investment advocates who have long fought for sustainable, inclusive economic revitalization. We are thrilled to announce that PNC Bank has joined with us to help kick off these next three road shows, which will include Chicago in June 2018.
Cleveland has claimed the nation’s dubious mantle as the most distressed city in America, topping the 2017 Distressed Communities Index (DCI), a report of the Economic Innovation Group (EIG). The DCI is a tool for measuring the vitality of U.S. communities. Parts of Cleveland, like Pittsburgh and other communities rising from the ashes of the “Rust Belt,” have become prosperous. But millions of working families—white and black—are still struggling in Cleveland, Ohio and America. The recovery has passed them by, one decade after the start of the Great Recession, and four decades after de-industrialization and disinvestment began ravaging the nation’s industrial heartland.
The 2017 DCI report examines “place-based disparities in the American economic experience and assesses the relationship between them and a host of other important factors, such as health outcomes, public assistance spending, demographics, and educational attainment.” Atlantic Magazine broadcast the index results in a stunning December article about America’s left-behind communities. From the DCI introduction:
America’s elite zip codes are home to a spectacular degree of growth and prosperity—
hubs of innovation and progress seemingly immune to the concerns over automation, globalization, or lack of upward mobility that pervade national headlines. However, outside of those top communities, economic well-being is often tenuous at best. And, at worst, millions of Americans are stuck in places where what little economic stability exists is quickly eroding beneath their feet.
Distressed communities are disconnected communities, and the findings that follow reveal the troubling extent to which the fates of their 52 million inhabitants are diverging
from the rest of the country. These
are places increasingly alienated from the benefits of the modern economy. Distressed communities were the only cohort to actually lose jobs and business establishments while national-level growth was in full swing from 2011 to 2015. Perhaps worse, in an economy growing ever more dependent on knowledge, they are also the only cohort in which the majority of adults lack an education beyond high school.
…. Years into a steady economic expansion, it is all too easy to look at a low unemployment rate or record stock market gains and conclude that the tide is rising everywhere. As we will see, hidden beneath the national numbers is a deeply fragmented landscape of economic well-being—one in which far too many communities are being left behind.
The High Wage America Initiative was launched in front of a standing room only audience on Capitol Hill in June 2017, keynoted by Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey and Ohio Congresswoman Marcie Kaptur. On October 17, our growing partnership hosted the Manufacturing Better Jobs Summit in Pittsburgh, featuring USW President Leo Gerard and bi-partisan state manufacturing leaders.
Participants included political and legislative staff leaders, progressive policy advocates, investment managers and regional development practitioners, and labor and business officials. The initiative, to date, has released four papers focused on how to build a strong, inclusive, high-wage manufacturing sector in America, including Revitalizing America’s Manufacturing Communities and A Vision for a High-Wage America.
Please reach out if you’re interested in helping us build the momentum to take back the Heartland! On to Cleveland!