NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


June 7, 2010

Cleveland has never been a glamorous town, but it used to be lively and successful.  Now it is a poster boy for Rust Belt decline.  It does not have to be that way.  One way to save Cleveland is to promote real growth, says Nick Gillespie, editor of and 

Like many cities with dying downtowns, Cleveland has an edifice complex.  The city's latest scheme to stimulate the economy is a pricey new convention center.  But economic studies have consistently shown that massive projects like stadiums, aquariums and museums fail to deliver.  Instead, Cleveland should follow three principles to promote real bottom-up development, says Gillespie.                         

Protect life and property: 

  • The most basic function of government is to protect the personal safety of its residents and businesses.
  • A safe city will attract a wide spectrum of residents from college graduates to families, businessmen to seniors.  

Make government transparent and accountable: 

  • Transparency boosts confidence and the quality of services, that's why former mayor Michael White initiated the "citizen's budget," so that residents and businesses could monitor government performance.
  • Unfortunately, the concept appears to have fallen by the wayside; the current mayor's 2010 budget is a bulky, 420-page document.  

Pay attention to core infrastructure: 

  • Potholes count more than pipe dreams; a road network that maximizes mobility is critical to facilitating the flow of people and goods.
  • Well-functioning sewer and water systems are essential to support existing businesses as well as future growth.  

Source: Nick Gillespie, "Ideas to save Cleveland," Reason Magazine, June 2010. 

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