Floundering Ohio economy topic of forum

Jackie Valley

William Frey, a research professor at the University of Michigan, speaks at Rust Belt Economics: A Seminar for Ohio Journalists yesterday afternoon in the Moulton Hall Ballroom. Frey’s presentation, titled “The People and Jobs: A Look at Ohio and the Nati

Credit: Steve Schirra

Education and innovation are key to improving Ohio’s economy as the state works to deal with its “rust belt” image.

About 40 Ohio journalists gathered in Moulton Hall yesterday for the Rust Belt Economics seminar presented by the Foundation for American Communications.

Four speakers discussed Northern Ohio’s current economic status and how to better report these issues.

Economist Mark Schweitzer from the Federal Reserve Bank in Cleveland opened the seminar. He said Ohio’s per capita income, which is lower than the U.S. average, is the key to evaluating the region’s economic situation.

“Innovation is the biggest determinant of income growth,” Schweitzer said, adding that “income growth rates have nothing to do with high tax rates and low tax rates.”

He cited Minnesota as an example of a state with a high tax rate and a high income growth rate.

Ned Hill, vice president for economic development at Cleveland State, focused on Ohio manufacturing. He said although there are major industries in Ohio, such as chemistry and health care, Ohio manufacturing continues to struggle with a declining population and the “rust belt” image as an old industrial area.

Demographer William Frey examined the changing population of the United States and its effect on different regions. He said that by 2050 only half the American population will be non-Hispanic white.

Frey’s research consistently ranked Ohio cities as having some of the lowest growth rates in the country.

Cleveland Plain Dealer Metro Columnist Sam Fulwood concluded the event by speaking about the difficulty journalists often have reporting on issues the public does not want to hear about and how to overcome the public’s desire for only positive information.

The Foundation for American Communications, a non-profit organization, has been providing content education to journalists to help them understand complex issues in society since 1976, said Paul Davis, FACS senior vice president of programs.

The Society of Professional Journalists and Kent State’s College of Communication and Information co-sponsored the seminar with FACS, with funding provided by the Gannett Foundation.

Contact news correspondent Jackie Valley at [email protected].