Brain Hubs and Manufacturing Centers in the Fourth District

In this research brief, economist Joel Elvery asks whether any of Ohio’s metro areas could be considered a “brain hub.” He identifies such cities as those with a high ratio of “knowledge” to manufacturing jobs. Cities with a higher ratio have recently tended to display stronger economic growth (e.g., San Francisco, New York, D.C.). Elvery found that, of the eight major cities in Ohio, only Columbus could be considered a “brain hub.” Its knowledge to manufacturing job ratio was a robust 3.7 to 1.0 (the national average was 2.4). Cincinnati ranked second among Ohio’s cities (2.3 to 1.0), but Toledo, Youngstown, and Canton had virtually one-to-one knowledge to manufacturing job ratios (1.2, 1.1, and 0.9 respectively). The data indicate that, with the exceptions of Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio’s cities are behind and losing ground. Can they catch up, or has time passed by these blue-collar towns? Perhaps, it is simply too late. But if Ohio’s cities are to have any chance to compete in a knowledge-based economy, a world-class K-12 education will undergird city-wide transformation. In her remarks at a September College Now Greater Cleveland event, Cleveland Fed president Sandra Pianalto said: “[I]f we want to improve our region’s economy, if we want people here to have higher incomes, we need to improve the educational attainment of our citizens, especially our young people.” I couldn’t agree more. If Ohio’s cities are to get more of these prized “knowledge jobs,” it starts with dramatic improvement to our cities’ K-12 education systems.

SOURCE: Joel Elvery, “Brain Hubs and Manufacturing Centers in the Fourth District,” Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, August 7, 2013: http://www.clevelandfed.org/research/trends/2013/0813/02regeco.cfm

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