It’s a bit run down, but the rent is cheap…

The Midwest is losing population and political clout to the South and Southwest, but Conor Williams, in a Washington Post commentary, remains optimistic.

The region, despite an economic tailspin, remains vital as a source of both natural resources and intellectual capital, but all that could change if conditions are allowed to deteriorate further.

Williams says explicitly that energy development alone won’t save the Midwest, but he does acknowledge it’s a key part of the equation.

A Brookings Institution report from September that Williams cites agrees:

Industries and universities in Great Lakes metros have created the research capacity and manufacturing prowess needed to build a clean energy, low-carbon economy. … The region’s research and innovation infrastructure is already spurring the development of new products and processes: Michigan, Ohio, and Illinois are among the top states in terms of green tech patenting, focused on new technologies in battery power, hybrid systems, and fuel cells.

“There is a brave new Midwestern world to win,” Williams concludes.

Is anyone listening?

Photo by aechempati via Creative Commons

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.