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Is the North Rising Again?

As you may know, there has been a sea change in conventional investment philosophy as a result of the United Nations-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI)(http://www.unpri.org).  The PRI, having grown to $45 trillion in signatories, has been adopted by some of the largest global institutional investors, asset managers and consultants. The PRI supports long-term pension investment horizons, aligning with the long-term retirement needs of pension beneficiaries.  As Fiona Reynolds, President of PRI said, “Investors have an incredible amount of power.  They have the ability to effect huge amounts of change, and they just need to come together and act.”

This transition did not occur overnight, however. Well-known writers from Peter Drucker in The Unseen Revolution to Randy Barber and Jeremy Rifkin in The North Shall Rise Again, along with progressive scholars and analysts, have for decades predicted the eventual investment power of pension funds. In an upcoming book on responsible investment, commissioned by the AFL-CIO, we will show how labor's capital stewards were among the pioneers of responsible investment for over a century, investing in housing, banks and credit unions, medical clinics and worker co-ops.  That leadership in responsible investment continues today, as the innovative stewards who are managing labor's capital have profitably re-invested billions and billions of workers' capital rebuilding our cities.

The Heartland Network was established in 1995 to explore new pension capital strategies to revitalize the industrial economy of our nation’s heartland and to help workers reclaim the control workers’ capital.  In the meantime, it's instructive to see what what's happening in the "North," i.e., the Rust Belt.  From New England (the original rust belt) to the Great Lakes, and from Cleveland to Pittsburgh to Detroit, young people are moving back to rust belt cities and rebuilding and renewing their communities.  This is happening concurrent with an in-shoring movement, focused on "Making it in America," that is beginning to take shape.  It's cool to live in industrial cities again.  

We owe a thanks to the Steelworkers and the AFL-CIO and multi-sector allies who have been at the forefront of this fight to end unfair trade and take back our country, and we owe an applause to the capital stewards and young new urban pioneers taking back our cities.

We provide three very interesting articles on these new trends below, along with a new profile on Allan Emkin, an investment pioneer in his own right.

Rust Belt revival: Lessons for southwest Ontario from America's heartland

As oil prices continue to plummet, Ontario has the potential to reclaim its role as the driver of Canada’s economic growth. Adam Radwanski travels to revitalized Rust Belt cities in the U.S., to see how they remade themselves and what can be learned.

The Rising

By Adam Radwanski
Photography by Aaron Vincent Elkaim

January 16, 2015 - Ribs and beers are on the table. The firepit is crackling. And a TV is mounted to the back of a truck so we can watch the football game, tailgate style. Wearing a Browns jersey, Richey Piiparinen bounces around the starter home in the blue-collar neighbourhood that he, his fiancée and their baby daughter have recently moved into – making sure we all have enough to eat and drink, and bantering with a burly army veteran turned stand-up comedian he grew up with.

When he finally sits down, Cleveland’s leading urbanologist makes the passionate case for why Rust Belt cities like his – for all the economic pain they’ve suffered, people they’ve lost to more prosperous places, jokes made at their expense – are where the future is.

Read more...

The Next Cool Thing: Great Writing From the Middle of America

Originally posted in November, authors Amanda Teuscher and Rachel M.Cohen from The American Prospect spoke with Belt Magazine's editor-in-chief Anne Trubek about the magazine's first year and its mission.

By Amanda Teuscher, Rachel M. Cohen

November 24, 2014 - When news outlets and websites write about the industrial Midwest, the coverage can vacillate between boosterism and “ruin porn,” often at the expense of telling compelling stories about the people and complexities of cities like Detroit, Cleveland, and Buffalo. Belt Magazine, an online publication based in Cleveland, just celebrated its first anniversary with the release of Dispatches from the Rust Belt, a collection of the magazine’s best content.

The American Prospect spoke with Belt’s editor-in-chief Anne Trubek about the magazine’s first year and its mission to elevate long form writing and first-person essays alongside original reporting and stories from—and for—the Rust Belt.

TAP: Where did you grow up and what brought you to Cleveland? And what made you stay for nearly two decades?

Anne Trubek: I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin—so not the Rust Belt, technically. I moved to Northeast Ohio in 1997 to take a job at Oberlin College and I moved to Cleveland proper in 2006. I am still teaching at Oberlin, but much less. And I live in Cleveland because I really enjoy living in Cleveland!

TAP: How do you distinguish between “Midwest” and “Rust Belt”?

Trubek: I see it in terms of the agricultural Midwest and the industrial Midwest, and I do think they are two cultures—Madison is the agricultural Midwest. We can talk about agricultural Midwest on Belt, but I do think it’s a little different. Do you think factories or do you think farms? That’s the difference between the two.

Read more...

Rebuilding the Rust Belt

See how a former CIA executive and a new breed of lettuce are transforming the poorest parts of the Rust Belt city.

By Keith Epstein; www.politico.com

February 19, 2015 - Tears stream down Lakeisha Jeffries’ face and over her chin onto a few dried splotches of bright indoor wall paint. Words falter and she apologizes for the surge of gratitude. “I’m sorry. It’s so … I can’t talk about it … My whole life … changed.”

Jeffries is part of a work crew renovating a house in Glenville, one of the city’s poorest neighborhoods, on a street of empty lots and abandoned wrecks of homes, many strewn with trash or old tires and crudely bandaged with plywood and sheets of plastic. It’s a place that for decades has seemed unalterable no matter how many government programs and well-meaning philanthropies got involved; a place where abject poverty, joblessness and crime reinforce the racism in a city long divided, and where infants still die at a higher rate than almost anywhere else in the country.

Unemployed for most of her life and reliant on her mother, friends and food stamps, Jeffries scraped by as her husband took care of their eight children, squeezed into small digs in Cleveland public housing. “Those were some dark days,” she recalls.

Read more...

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