Observing Erie now while remembering what it once was is frustrating, a population in decline, manufacturing jobs lost and a future somewhat in doubt. Over the past year or so, we’ve seen multiple plans to bring about a revival, some better than others, but getting from here to there is a pretty steep climb. An interesting report just out examines the situation in 96 cities, including Erie, highlighting the widespread existence of the very same problems we’re experiencing here.
The disappearance of manufacturing jobs is only the most obvious issue, our rising reliance on jobs in education and healthcare, “eds and meds,” brings a whole new set of problems:
One major downside of relying on eds and meds, which are generally nonprofit institutions, has been the growing share of many cities’ tax bases that is exempt from property taxes. Thirty percent of the tax base of Erie, Pennsylvania, is tax-exempt …
This leads to lower tax revenues, giving the city less flexibility in planning future moves.
… some have questioned how much growth local economies can expect from higher education and health care when these two industries are facing sustained pressure from the public and government to keep consumer costs down.
Eds and meds aren’t the only issue, the report breaks down the data explaining the constraints, not only on Erie, but on all city governments, however the question is, can we come up with solutions of our own? No matter how limited local governments are, can individuals come up with ideas and take actions that will grow to the point where it will have a positive effect on the entire region?
There’s no reason we can’t and many reasons we can and should, but this report will give you a better perspective of what Erie and other similar cities are up against.