28 Jan Margaret Cowell’s new book shows how eight midwest cities used adaptive resilience to deal with deindustrialization

Dealing with DeindustrializationMass factory closures in cities and regions across the Midwest of the United States in the 1970s and 1980s has been a research interest for Margaret Cowell, assistant professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, since she was a doctoral student at Cornell University.

Cowell’s study of what happened as leaders in Indianapolis, Indiana; Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus, Ohio; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Detroit, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, reacted to the news of each plant closure and to the broader deindustrialization trend that emerged during this time period has culminated in her newly published book, “Dealing with Deindustrialization: Adaptive Resilience in American Midwestern Regions,”published by Routledge.

The book shows how the leaders in eight metropolitan areas facing deindustrialization strived for adaptive resilience by using economic development policy. The unique attributes of each region which include asset bases, modes of governance, civic capacity, leadership qualities, and a number of external factors influenced both the responses that leaders employed and the outcomes that were achieved as a result.

Using adaptive resilience as a lens, Cowell provides a thorough understanding of how and why regions varied in their abilities to respond to deindustrialization and explains why she has labeled Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, and Milwaukee as “Basic Betters,” and why Cincinnati, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh are identified as “Bowing Out.”

“The Basic Betters all crafted strategies that focused on the retention and expansion of manufacturing firms and most struggled to adapt as a result. Regions Bowing Out looked for alternatives to manufacturing, which tended to pay off in the long run,” Cowell said. She found that the degree to which a region was rooted and wedded to the idea of manufacturing played a role in whether or not it exhibited adaptive resilience.

“Dealing with Deindustrialization” is included in the Routledge Research in Planning and Urban Design series, which provides the reader with the latest scholarship in the field of planning and beyond. The series publishes international research covering spatial planning, regional planning, planning history, planning theory, communities, impact assessment, transport, sustainability and urban design. Building on Routledge’s history of academic rigor and cutting edge research, the series contributes to the rapidly expanding literature in all areas of planning and urban design.

Story from National Capital Region (NCR) Highlights.