Sunday, April 01, 2001

Great cities: Jobs with a future


Cincinnati struggles to build high-tech employment

        Cincinnati is proud of being the Blue Chip City, with Fortune 500 headquarters that provide stable, high-paying jobs. But our pride has been rocked by Procter & Gamble job cuts and a Comair strike. Job growth is good in the suburbs, but terrible in our urban core. And we're not developing enough jobs with a high-tech future.

        The grades: On a 10-scale, we rate Columbus an 8, Indianapolis 7, Cincinnati and Cleveland each 5, and Louisville, 4. None of the five has high-tech jobs growth seen in “10” cities such as Austin, Texas.

        How we compare: Cincinnati is last in job growth with a loss of 3.2 percent in the city, despite a healthy suburban growth of 15.2 percent.

        HUD's State of the Cities 2000 reports metro job growth from 1994 to 1997. Columbus: 11.6 percent in the city and 11.4 percent in the suburbs. Louisville: 4.5 percent city, 14 percent suburbs. Indianapolis: 14 percent city, 3 percent suburbs. Cleveland: 4.9 percent city, 8.6 percent suburbs.

        Austin added 20 percent in the city and 32 percent in the suburbs.

        Pay: Cincinnati is second in the region for average pay in private sector jobs (1997 HUD figures). Cleveland, $36,649 city, $29,204 suburbs; Cincinnati, $34,985 city, $27,977 suburbs; Indianapolis, $32,084 and $27,266; Columbus, $31,125 and $26,775; Louisville, $30,698 and $25,676.

        Innovation: High-tech jobs pay higher salaries. Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati are rated among American Electronics Association's top cybercities. Columbus and Cleveland had more high-tech workers, but Cincinnati's average high-tech wage led at $50,400.

        Cincinnati's “Digital Rhine” of dot.coms on Main Street is one of the bright spots in the urban core.

        The Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce says 25,759 scientists and engineers work in our region, more than North Carolina's Research Triangle.

        New businesses: Cincinnati is last again. From 1994-97, HUD shows Indianapolis leading (10.3 percent city, 24.7 percent suburbs); Columbus, Louisville and Cleveland all outscore Cincinnati, which lost 4.1 percent in the city and gained 7.8 percent in the suburbs.

        Fortune 500 headquarters: Arthur Anderson ranks Cleveland first with 9; Cincinnati has 8 (Kroger, Procter, Federated, Ashland, Cinergy, AK Steel, Fifth Third Bank and American Financial); Columbus has 5, Indianapolis, 4, and Louisville, 3.

        Small businesses, not the giants, create most new jobs.

        Jobs outlook to 2005: Places Rated Almanac 2000 puts Cincinnati in the middle, trailing Columbus and Indianapolis.

        Unemployment: According to Bureau of Labor Statistics for January, Indianapolis led with only 2.2 percent out of work; Columbus, 2.6; Louisville, 3.1; Cincinnati, 3.4; Cleveland 4.1.

        Why it matters: Metro Cincinnati's future in the new global economy will depend on diversified industry, a trained work force and ability to innovate and attract talent. More venture capital is needed to compete as a region. Cincinnati's “edge cities” — Blue Ash, Mason — are growing jobs and businesses, but the core district is weak. No region can succeed if its core is in decline.

        To become a great city, Cincinnati needs to become a place where talented knowledge workers can advance their careers.

        What others are doing: Investments in “business environment” instead of individual firms can energize businesses throughout the region. Cincinnati Bell's broadband system (Zoomtown) is an example.

        Minneapolis, Ann Arbor, Silicon Valley, Boston and others have multiplied their economic impact by networking in business clusters. Cincinnati's bio-tech initiative is an example, and new University of Cincinnati labs can be a catalyst.

        Test: How many businesses start here, relocate here and stay here? How fast can our region reach nearly 100 percent Internet access?

        Fragmentation and a shrinking core hobble our region. As Boeing proved to Seattle, headquarters can pick up and leave. To remain on lists of great places to work (Fortune, Forbes, Entrepreneur), Cincinnati needs to expand its high-tech base with more venture capital.

        To become a “hot” jobs magnet, this region needs to invest in the future: innovative start-ups and growing companies that deliver jobs for tomorrow.

Comparing cities on employment



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