Edited by John R. Bryson, Jennifer Clark and Vida Vanchan
Chapter 29: Crafting a comeback: cultivating an innovative ecosystem in mature regions
Older industrial cities that once served as the backbone of the 20th century economy are struggling to redefine themselves. The fortunes of these regions have followed the fortunes of the entrepreneurial firms that grew into large corporations within their boundaries and provided stability and prosperity for the local economy for almost a century. As these large corporations lost ground, either squandering their competitive advantages or being overwhelmed by the forces of globalization, older manufacturing cities such as Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown, among others in the US and internationally, have struggled to redevelop their economies. Entrepreneurship – defined as new firm formation and growth – and innovation – defined as the creation of value in an economy – emerge as the most viable strategies for the economic future of older cities. Yet how this transformation might happen and what types of public policies are needed remain open questions. While entrepreneurship is frequently held out as a policy panacea, we observe many cases where regions, despite considerable dedicated public resources, have not been able to restructure or even remain resilient.
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