The historically manufacturing and industrial centers of the Northeast have experienced a decline in the past decade due to major shifts in workforce. Declining populations, a decrease in job opportunities, and decaying infrastructure have stacked the odds against the cities. Because the availability of jobs is a major factor in attracting new residents to an area, job creation has been identified as a key initiative of the Revitalizing Older Cities campaign launched by the Northeast Midwest Institute (NMWI).
How can the federal government play a role in this revitalization effort? NMWI points out that many of these formerly-industrial communities are home to academically-strong colleges and universities. Federal policy can be instated that links the graduates of these schools to job and business opportunities in the community through a variety of incentives and programs. Not only would such policy provide economic vitality to the region, but it would also help combat the dreaded “brain drain” that often plagues older communities.
And while federal incentives are important in the revitalization process, it is also important to affect change locally. A variety of workforce development programs are already in place here in the Lehigh Valley. These programs include specialized training programs, and workforce investment organizations – such at the Lehigh Valley Workforce Investment Board. The organization works tirelessly to ensure that the Lehigh Valley remains competative in the future, providing educational and training opportunities for the residents of the Valley. It provides yet another piece to the revitalization puzzle.
To learn more about the effort to redevelop older communities, visit the Northeast Midwest Institute’s website.