By Howard J. Grossman, AICP
Current economic conditions in region are stable but many problems prevail.
Many of those problems are unknown and what may be prevalent today, may change or at least be adjusted and cause economic hardship.
It is very clear that higher-paying jobs sought by many regional citizens are generally not available. There are many low income families living inside this region and the competition for good jobs is lively.
While this may be true for other regions as well, it does not mean that the Pocono-Northeast can compete at the same level and scale and still be economically efficient in the coming year. On the other hand, there are many pluses and advantages that enable the region to become a lead geographical area in the next decades and many of the assets have been discussed in previous columns.
Stagflation, meaning high unemployment and high inflation, if it was to occur in the future, would be a decisive negative across the nation and hit a region such as this, a hard blow that would have many consequences.
Much of this was discussed many years ago by a Scranton native, Jane Jacobs, who went on to become vey famous in her field, authoring many books on this topic which at the time was very controversial.
In the 1960s, she laid down in a book titled “Cities and the Wealth of Nations,” an important contribution to urban living, looking at five great forces, including markets, jobs, transplants, technology and capital. All of these have become key factors in the economic society of today, and while you may agree or disagree with Jacobs, she became a futurist whose ideas should always be considered to help predict where and how the economy turn.
Her knowledge and lifestyle, after Scranton, included the New York Metropolitan Area and Toronto, so that these places and other locations became highlighted and facilitated examples of how she viewed economic and urban life.
The economy should be examined continuously inside the region and focused upon in coming years, using regional economic development agencies as well as the many local and county development organizations.
The talent is available to organize more analyses and promote the many opportunities that can help enhance a more positive economy.
Jacobs, for example, defined economic development as a process of continually improvising in a context that makes injecting improvisations into everyday life feasible. Whether or not this is a valid conclusion, regionally, remains to be seen, however, there are several steps that can be undertaken for the betterment of the regional future.
This includes the use of regional planning, strategies that can be applied to specific situations in this area as a better approach to the means to achieve community development for an improved tomorrow.
The economy is better examined in this region through understanding that what may be advantageous today does not necessarily stay that way forever. To think about these factors, here are a couple ideas:
• A regional economic institute should be considered as a tool to study and evaluate all types of economic conditions that can happen and may change the direction of lifestyles and be utilized to predict and better approach the likely positive and negative changes that will be apparent in coming decades; and
• The creative city has been written about by those who study what has taken place and in this region, there should be urban communities that are selected as models for more enhanced living opportunity through the steps that can be replicated in other urban areas of the nation. Enough efforts have been undertaken to focus on how communities can change and become better over time.
Howard J. Grossman is the former executive director of EDCNP, now NEPA Alliance. Email him at GrossmanHJ@aol.com