This week in Toledo, a local radio talk show host, ranted and raved about Toledo, Flint, union jobs, and the like. Whether or not there is agreement with his points (and there was "some").....his rant got me to thinking about four (4) Ohio and Michigan places that are close-in-size, somewhat auto-industry-dependent, former hotbeds of union activity (except GR).
Even though Toledo's corporate limits population is the biggest of this group, they actually stack up in the metropolitan areas (2005 estimates) as such:
65. Grand Rapids (767,539)
75. Toledo (658,236)
103. Lansing (455,929)
105. Flint (443,947)
Grand Rapids appears to be fairing the best in this group. Their industrial base is a bit more diversified, although a reliance on furniture may hurt them in the near future. The community is conservative and doesn't seem to be included in discussions when talking about "union towns".
Lansing has had some big plant closings (Oldsmobile?) but I believe they have replaced some of those lost jobs with smaller and more modern (and more competitive) industrial facilities.
Toledo has managed to pick-up some big auto-related plants, such as the new Jeep Liberty facility. But the outflow of industrial jobs in Toledo is a reality.
Flint has been hit hard in this sector, too. General Motors' troubles do not bode well for many Flint-area industrial workers.
Toledo's downtown is undergoing a mini-resurgence.....warehouse loft apartments, new nightlife places, a great new baseball stadium. But, it still is just a shadow of itself, as more and more corporations change their address to the suburbs.
I had heard that Flint's downtown was in worse shape than Toledo's. Can anybody speak to that? Lansing's downtown may be quiet, but just down the street they have Michigan State University......probably a lively place. Lansing also has state government employees. I don't know about Grand Rapids' downtown.
What is your take on these four (4) cities?