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New Report Outlines the Struggles of Mid-Sized Ohio Cities

map of Ohio

A new report shows that Ohio’s mid-sized cities – like Akron and Youngstown -- are facing greater economic challenges than larger ones like Cincinnati and Cleveland.

The new report from the Greater Ohio Policy Center shows that mid-sized cities with industrial pasts have not recovered from population and job losses during the recession as quickly as larger cities.

Lavea Brachman, executive director for the policy center, says vacant houses remain a problem in many Ohio cities.

“Mid-sized ones really showed the steepest declines in housing-market stability of any city type: large or small or medium. And they’ve faced many of the same challenges as the larger ones. Cleveland and Cincinnati are showing some small signs of recovery, and we’re definitely not seeing that yet with the mid-sized or the smaller cities.”

Brachman says that the issues facing the mid-sized cities also extend to their suburbs. She says one way to reverse the trend is to focus on neighborhood redevelopment in cities like Canton, Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown and Akron.

“We want to look for stable neighborhoods -- or growing neighborhoods -- to leverage support for housing growth or brownfields redevelopment.”

One city that has largely escaped the trend is Columbus. Brachman says that’s due to the city’s ability to retain students after graduation, as well as the fact that the state capital has relied less on heavy industry in the past.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.