Tuesday, May 8, 2012


I’ve stumbled upon a handful of noteworthy stories in the last week or so – too many to weave into a single, coherent blog entry about a particular topic – so this month’s entry is a smorgasbord of articles for your reading pleasure. Or perhaps I was really just looking for an excuse to use the word smorgasbord.

“Beer bubble” in Bend?

An interesting story about the growth of microbreweries and their relative concentration in Bend, Oregon. And while the CVB and others actively promote brewery and brewpub tourism, some are concerned about a potential “beer bubble.”

Repopulating Downtown Cleveland

When I joined Market Street over four years ago, I spent nearly three months commuting from Alpharetta while looking for a new place to live in Midtown Atlanta. Once I finally moved, I joined a group of roughly ten thousand young professionals that moved into the core of the city between 2000 and 2010. Similar trends have been seen in Cleveland, but contrary to metro Atlanta, Cleveland’s downtown population is growing rapidly while the region’s suburban population declines. And while Midtown Atlanta still had plenty of vacant condos, property managers in downtown Cleveland are working from waiting lists.

1,000 New South Dakotans

Having completed work on a new strategy for Sioux Falls in 2010, and having just begun a new visioning process in Watertown, we’ve seen the economic vibrancy and resiliency of the South Dakota economy first hand. Although many envy the state’s incredibly low unemployment rate (4.3 percent), it’s incredible to consider what full employment would be in South Dakota absent significant skills gaps. The state has recently hired Manpower to support its new “1,000 New South Dakotans” initiative to help fill vacant positions in a few targeted occupations. The state found that there were roughly 1,700 open positions in four specific areas, with only 100 resident South Dakotans on unemployment rolls that possess adequate skills to fill these positions. During a recent trip to Watertown, our team was incredibly impressed with the programs, facilities, and corporate partnerships at Lake Area Technical Institute – a recent Aspen Institute Award winner as one of the nation’s top five technical and community colleges. Yet despite this resource, private sector representatives reported that there were potentially 400-500 manufacturing positions that could not be filled in this City of roughly 21,000.

Massively Open Online Courses

Evan Robertson recently wrote a great blog post about the emergence of open courseware at MIT and Stanford and the potential threat that online courses at such elite institutions may pose to traditional classroom education. The New York Times’ Room for Debate section (a personal favorite) recently invited a group of educators, administrators, researchers, and students to share their views on the potential benefits and pitfalls of open courseware. Most agree that it they are a great complement to traditional degree programs, but no substitute.

Urban Agriculture

Living in a condo on the fifth floor typically precludes one from having a garden. So what’s a guy that loves to cook (me) supposed to do in such a situation? Well, I took a friend up on an offer to help plant and tend his garden a few miles away, in exchange for some the fruits of the labor. This short video from the American Society of Landscape Architects provides a number of ideas for ways in which homeowners, commercial property owners, neighborhoods, and larger urban communities can encourage creative use and reuse of underutilized spaces to support urban agriculture.

Repurposing Vacated School Buildings in Tulsa and Kansas City

An interesting piece in Governing magazine discusses plans to repurpose school buildings that are now vacant due to school closures and consolidation in Kansas City and Tulsa. While few examples of specific projects are provided in the article, it does underscore the need to think about ways in which a vacated school will impact the surrounding neighborhood and the need to identify potential opportunities for reuse early on when districts are considering consolidation or closure, an increasingly common issue as districts face tighter budgets.