Columbus, OH Sustainable community development not only refers to environmentally conscious cities and towns, but also to the economic viability of a community. Dr. Robert Greenbaum at Ohio State University, and Dr. Martin Luby of DePaul University, have recently received Ohio Sea Grant funding to study how communities that rely heavily on tourism and related businesses could fare in the future, based on economic trends in the past.
The project will investigate how communities along Ohio’s Lake Erie shoreline have changed over time due to economic conditions in the area, look for trends in past economic factors like employment, wages, and local government credit ratings, and use those trends to help communities inform future decisions on economic development. Ohio State’s Center for Urban and Regional Analysis is also helping to support the research, which is expected to be completed in early 2014.
“What we’re looking at is the economic resilience of coastal communities, merging topics from a couple of different areas”? explains Greenbaum, Associate Professor in the OSU John Glenn School of Public Affairs. “One is with regard to climate change and increases in natural disasters, and the other is the related macroeconomic changes in industrial production.”?
In the Great Lakes region, climate change is expected to produce more frequent heavy storms, which can lead to flooding in communities where sewer systems may not be able to handle large amounts of rainfall in such short timeframes. Heavy rains also lead to more runoff from agricultural lands, carrying fertilizer and other nutrients that fuel algal blooms into Lake Erie. Natural disasters like Hurricane Sandy also affect both local tourist infrastructure and overall travel, and can require months or even years of recovery efforts.
Greenbaum and Luby, Assistant Professor in the DePaul University School of Public Service, are planning to develop tools that will help assess how communities are likely to handle these impacts. They will start with an analysis of data sources like county records, looking for trends in factors like employment, communities’ credit ratings, and taxes.
Results from the data analysis will then inform surveys and interviews in selected communities along the Ohio Lake Erie coastline. Results will not only help communities in Ohio evaluate how specialization in particular industries is likely to affect them in the future, but should also be expandable to other states.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to provide some actionable advice based on the results of the research”? Greenbaum explains. “When your economy is specialized in a particular industry, there’s a lot of momentum to continue to build up in that particular industry, and that may make communities particularly vulnerable should something happen that reduces demand for those industries.”?
More information about the project is available in the Spring/Summer 2013 issue of Ohio Sea Grant’s Twine Line magazine, available at ohioseagrant.osu.edu/publications.
Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 32 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.
Dr. Robert Greenbaum, Ohio State University, firstname.lastname@example.org