John Austin

‘Drill, Baby, Drill’ in the Great Lakes?
June 10, 2010

One of the annual Great Lakes political rites of late spring is the leadership policy conference on scenic Mackinac Island, the car-less Great Lakes getaway, at which Mackinac’s Grand Hotel, with the longest front porch in the world, is weighed down by 1500 of Detroit and Michigan’s leading business, media, and political figures, along with the odd early presidential aspirant. This being an election year, the manure being spread by seven Republican and Democratic Michigan gubernatorial hopefuls, along with visiting keynoter and maybe presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, rivaled the piles lef

Promise Keeping in Kalamazoo
June 09, 2010

In Kalamazoo, Mich.

Great Lakes are Dead, Long Live the Great Lakes
June 01, 2010

The portion of the blogosphere inclined to noodle over Brookings State of Metro America report, included some who now ask, “whither the Rust Belt?” and “whither the Brookings Great Lakes Economic Initiative?”.  I’m pleased to say all are alive and in forward-looking form. The Great Lakes Economic Initiative developed several years ago, not out of a DC-based “mega-region” overlay, but as I traded notes from my years as an elected official and public policy-shaper in Michigan and teamed up with similarly situated political, business and civic leaders from Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, and el

Financial Excess Still Claiming Car Country Casualties
May 21, 2010

In Michael Lewis’ disturbing but illuminating book unearthing the machinations behind the global financial crisis, The Big Short, one of the Wall Street investors enmeshed in creating the web of sub-prime mortgage-backed securities and related derivatives reports on how he knew the bubble was going to burst.

Auto-Dependent Communities to Gain from Health Reform
March 30, 2010

Big-time health care reform, now passed, will, like a lot of federal policy, have different effects in the very different American metros that make up our national economy.

Enhancing Venture Capital to Drive Innovation
February 11, 2010

To create the new jobs needed in our nation, and make sure our world-leading creativity and innovation ends up creating new businesses, we need deeper pools of venture and early stage capital. Nowhere are jobs needed more than in the Midwest manufacturing belt. A recent Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program report authored by Cleveland’s Frank Samuel suggests how we might better link new technology discovery going on in the ‘Rust Belt” to new firm creation. It turns out the industrial heartland reaching from Minneapolis, Milwaukee, and St.

Feds Pony Up Toward Great Lakes Water ‘Magic’
November 04, 2009

If your image of Milwaukee is largely derived from Laverne and Shirley re-runs, think again.

'Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast': Detroit's Bi-Polar Thinking on Auto Recovery
October 19, 2009

Over 140 economists, researchers, Michigan and Ohio state and local officials, business and non-profit leaders recently camped for two days at the Detroit Branch of the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank, to review--in ghastly, numerical detail--the economic and human toll of the collapse of the auto industry, and to vet any and all approaches to aid dislocated auto workers in response. Overall, the atmosphere and information was grim: Huge job losses in auto-dependent communities, significant human and community suffering, and maddeningly small increments of opportunity for those that have been th

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