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Friday, January 7, 2011

Cleveland + Pittsburgh = Cleveburgh?

Posted By on Fri, Jan 7, 2011 at 11:53 AM


Those lowly black and gold- brethren to our east may be our mortal enemies, and Clevelanders may never want Ben Roethlisberger anywhere within 500 yards of their daughters, but one economist claims that the Forest City and Pittsburgh should and could tag team for greater regional economic growth.

Writing in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Christopher Briems claims that through geography, shared track records, and common industry, the two cities are already a tightly paired unit. But with greater cooperation and a shared vision, Cleveburgh — with it's combined population of 6 million (4 million in the work force) — could make some tangible progress in reshaping each city and moving them toward economic recovery.

So like the Steelers and Eagles, who once combined forces to form the Steagles, Briem wants Cleveland and Pittsburgh to become blood brothers, metaphorically speaking.

Nowhere is the connection between the two regions stronger than in the labor market. The interconnected Cleve-burgh workforces have long had a symbiotic relationship, and it's been growing over time. Both regions have long obsessed over migration and job growth while both have depended on each other for workers.

Annual migration among Cleveburgh communities dwarfs the movement of people to other places across the nation. Daily commuting over state borders is a growing phenomenon. It is not uncommon to see workers from Ohio and West Virginia looking for jobs in Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh residents considering jobs in Weirton or Youngstown or farther reaches of the region.

In many ways Cleveburgh already exists. The Regional Learning Network was formed in 2009 and brings together local leaders of Cleveland, Youngstown and Pittsburgh to address shared problems. The TechBelt Initiative brings together emerging technology industries of the greater Pittsburgh and Cleveland regions. These are seeds of what could become broader regional cooperation — if we make it so.

Yes, you could still hate the Steelers if this happens.

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