The Road Through the Rust Belt: From Preeminence to Decline to Prosperity


The Road Through the Rust Belt: From Preeminence to Decline to Prosperity



By now the story is familiar: A once-booming midwestern city whose growth was fueled by manufacturing is now struggling with a lack of jobs, declining population, abandoned properties, creaky infrastructure, and desperate finances. Inhabitants often flee to areas offering economic opportunity and better schools. Yet others stay, seeking and often finding entrepreneurial opportunities that help restore lost prosperity.

This is the subject of The Road through the Rust Belt: From Preeminence to Decline to Prosperity, William M. Bowen, editor, a book that addresses many of the common reasons why these cities suffered decline and the many solutions proposed and efforts already undertaken that seek to reverse the decline and spur rejuvenation.

The contributors, each associated with the Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, discuss the reasons for the decline of Rust Belt cities, including globalization, energy policy–related issues, and even the impact of air conditioning on location decisions. They also detail many of the entrepreneurial efforts undertaken in cities like Cleveland that are helping to reinvigorate once-depressed areas, offer suggestions related to investments in workforce training and current energy policy, critique the use of economic development subsidies, discuss the success of clusters at reviving old industrial cities, and provide cultural insights on business practices in China.

Overall, this book does not offer a one-size-fits-all solution to the economic woes still facing many of the depressed Rust Belt cities; rather, it offers a multitude of ideas that could be used to stimulate entrepreneurship and generate prosperity.



Publication Date



W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research




city management, economic development


Urban Studies and Planning