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A view of a road going through a small town in Iowa

About the Initiative

Once the foundation of the middle class on both sides of the Atlantic, industrial regions have undergone significant economic restructuring over the past several decades, leading to fractured communities and the rise of populist politics.

Partner organizations in North America and Europe continue to build and convene around ongoing work aimed at animating policies, practices, and strategies that can foster economic and community development in these industrial regions.

Rebuilding communities and fostering new economic opportunities will do much to ameliorate feelings of alienation and economic anxiety, factors that contribute to the polarizing politics and anti-democratic movements that threaten the stability and promise of Western democracies.

This initiative is a partnership of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Georgetown University’s BMW Center for German and European Studies, the Michigan Economic Center, Policy@Manchester at the University of Manchester, the Ruhr-Konferenz, the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in Chicago, and the Directorate-General for Regional and Urban Policy of the European Commission.

"There is an agenda which the majority of people can align behind around pride, place, jobs, opportunity, even making the planet a better place for their children and grandchildren to inherit."

—Rachel Wolf, founding partner of Public First

Stay Connected

To stay connected to the project and sign-up for regular updates, please contact Samuel Kling.

Contact us

Samuel Kling

Fellow & Director of Global Cities Research
Council expert Samuel Kling

BMW Center for German and European Studies, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University
Jeffrey Anderson, Professor
jja5@georgetown.edu

Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany, Chicago
Wolfgang Mössinger, Consul General
l@chic.auswaertiges-amt.de

Michigan Economic Center
John Austin, Director
jcaustin@umich.edu

Policy@Manchester, University of Manchester
Andrew Westwood, Vice Dean for Social Responsibility
andrew.westwood@manchester.ac.uk

Research Alliance Ruhr
Jürgen Hein, Managing Director
juergen.hein@uaruhr.de

Ruhr-Konferenz
Doerte Eisenhauer
doerte.eisenhauer@stk.nrw.de

Events

Catch expert analysis and share space with others invested in renewing our industrial regions. Stream previous conversations or register for upcoming exchanges of ideas.

Exterior view of an industrial factory
Peter Heinsius
PAST EVENT
Through original research and convenings, the Chicago Council partnered with organizations across the transatlantic space to discuss revitalizing industrial regions in North America and Europe.

Learn more about the initiative during events from project partners and other affiliates. Register or see past event video using the links below.

Das Progressive Zentrum Conference
Oct 12 - 13, 2022

NRW Metropolitan Innovation Summit
Aug 31 - Sep 2, 2022

Research

Read the full reports from partners working to provide solutions informed by the initiative. Research is based on learnings from federal, state, and local leaders, policymakers, and economic practitioners from Europe and North America.

An aerial view of a power plant at night, with the moon in the background
Symposium Report This report summarizes the Transforming Industrial Regions of North America and Europe symposium, including strategies to rebuild economies and stem anti-democratic populism.
Industrial city skyline and bridge with blue clouds.
Paths to New Prosperity in Industrial Regions of the West Local strategies can revive economies, nurture hope, and diminish the appeal of antidemocratic populism in struggling industrial regions.

Interviews with Practitioners

Hear firsthand from leaders in the field about their experiences in industrialized communities. Their regions offer lessons and new ideas in building sustainable economic recovery.

Donald Carter speaking on-screen
Play Video

Donald Carter, a senior research fellow for the Remaking Cities Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, speaks on planning for change.

Julia Taylor speaking on-screen
Play Video

Julia Taylor, president of the Greater Milwaukee Committee, discusses sharing models for change.

Learn more about local and regional strategies to build sustainable economic recovery through the following interviews with members of the project network. Each clip linked below touches on key policies and economic development approaches employed in industrial regions in both North America and Europe.

Ben Speggen - Vice President, Jefferson Educational Society

Donald Carter - Senior Research Fellow, Remaking Cities Institute, Carnegie Mellon University

George Heartwell - Former Mayor, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Grant Ervin - Chief Resilience Officer, City of Pittsburgh

Jay Byers - CEO, Greater Des Moines Partnership

Julia Taylor - President, Greater Milwaukee Committee

Keith Ridgway - Professor, University of Strathclyde

Rosalynn Bliss - Mayor of Grand Rapids, Michigan

Drew Dilkens - Mayor of Windsor, Ontario

Pascal Ledune - Hagedorn Group

Sarah Wayland - Senior Project Manager, Immigration Partnership, City of Hamilton

Sebastian Slecht - City of Essen, Germany

Steve Tobocman - Executive Director, Global Detroit

Thomas Kufen - Mayor of Essen, Germany

Thorsten Wiechmann - Professor, Technische Universität Dortmund

Commentary and Analysis

Project partners sound off in the press, public engagements, and original writings about revamping industrial regions. Listen as they weigh in on podcasts and broadcast media and check out the list of notable mentions of the initiative.

General Motors employees gather outside the plant for a protest in Ohio
It's the Respect (and Good Policies), Stupid Smart investments and stronger antitrust enforcement can strengthen communities, ease polarized politics, and defang racial and populist demagogues in Europe and the U.S.
US President Joe Biden speaking
Regional Inequality Looms as Pressing Threat to Democracy Now is the time to rise to a new political, economic, and social challenge, one rooted in growing regional inequalities that threaten democracy and the broader international order.
Writings by Project Partners
Podcasts, Radio, and Media Interviews
Speaking Engagements
External Media Mentions

External Commentary and Research

View other commentary and research on the challenges and opportunities of regional economic transformation.