Friday, December 3, 2010

What Torrino can teach Cleveland

I just found this article in today’s Time magazine online and one of the key elements jumped out at me. The article begins; “The closure of Torino's Lingotto assembly plant in 1982 was a body blow for the Italian car capital”.

And goes on to describe how Torino overcame the effects of a 100,000 person layoff when the plant closed. To quote further "Today the Lingotto plant stands once again as the symbol of the city. Only now the old factory serves as a testimonial that there can be life after the auto industry. Redesigned in the 1990s by Italian architect Renzo Piano, it forms the hub of a revitalized commercial district."

The unanswered question is “What did all those people do for that 8 years while the city got it’s rebranding off the ground?” While the human impact of the 8 lean years shouldn’t deter anyone from beginning to make these kinds of changes any plan must include the human element and that is not described in this article.

It should be obvious to the most casual observers that just focusing on companies and bringing in “trained” workers leaves your citizens to take the bottom end jobs at low wages and benefits. Left to their own devices, most people can’t afford either the time or tuition to go back to school full time. Part time is demanding and disruptive of family life and finances since the available jobs rarely pay well enough to maintain the family life style AND pay schooling costs.

Leaving this out makes describing the revitalization process much easier but is grossly misleading of the complexities that the agencies face. Without a well prepared work force to match the business friendly climate the article describes, those displaced workers will just fall by the wayside and you develop am unemployed underclass and we all know how well that has worked for may big American cities for the past hundred years.

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