I’m taking a break from the typical focus of my posts to address an article that just makes me crazy.  Forbes has come out with its annual "Most Miserable City List."  Last year Forbes ranked Cleveland No.1 and this year it dropped to No.10.  This is how Forbes described this year’s Cleveland ranking:

Last year’s most miserable city, Cleveland, fell back to No. 10 this year despite the stomach punch delivered by LeBron James when he announced his exit from Cleveland on national television last summer. Cleveland’s unemployment rate rose slightly in 2010 to an average of 9.3%, but the city’s unemployment rank improved relative to other cities, thanks to soaring job losses across the U.S. Cleveland benefited from a housing market that never overheated and therefore hasn’t crashed as much as many other metros. Yet Cleveland was the only city to rank in the bottom half of each of the 10 categories we considered.

First of all, I thought Forbes was considered a business magazine.  Since when does a pop culture development like a star basketball player leaving get factored its analysis?  But beyond this simple fact, Forbes has no clue as to what is happening in Cleveland right now.

There is a building boom in downtown Cleveland with over $2 billion dollars worth of construction and this construction boom is occurring during one of the toughest economies.  This new construction includes the Medical Mart and New Convention Center, Inner Belt Bridge Project, Flats East Bank Project, Aquarium, and Casino

The Cleveland Plain Dealer, a paper in my mind notorious for dwelling on negatives, had an editorial this weekend recognizing the positive developments in the Greater Cleveland region.  Those included:

• With evidence growing that manufacturing is actually leading the nation’s economic recovery, unemployment in Greater Cleveland has been running a full percentage point below the national average.

• Monster.com just named Cleveland the seventh-hottest job market in the country.

• Venture capitalists poured $221 million into this region last year — double the pace of such investments in 2009.

• The Milken Institute, a think tank that has consistently ranked Ohio among the least fertile states for innovation, just cited the state as its most improved for entrepreneurial activity.

Want even more indications of Cleveland’s positive direction?  From reforming local government to visionary new projects, Cleveland is heading in the right direction.

  • Travel & Leisure Magazine just name Cleveland one of the most visionary cities in the world for its urban farming efforts, including its mall to greenhouse transformation.  Only two other U.S. cities were even on the list.
  • Entrepreneur magazine recently ranked Northeast Ohio as one of the hottest entrepreneurial regions.
  • There is an on-going $350 million dollar renovation of the Cleveland Museum of Art transforming it into a showplace museum.
  • Government corruption is part of the criteria Forbes reviews, but it failed to consider recent developments.  Most cities do little about corruption issues and just try and get by.  No doubt Cleveland had its issues, but in November, local voters passed a ballot measure which completely reforms local County government. 
  • Cleveland has an organized and progressive sustainability movement which is serving as a model to other Cities-  Sustainable Cleveland 2019.  Partially in recognition for these efforts, a 2008 ranking had Cleveland jumping 12 spaces to the 16th most sustainable City in the U.S. and a lot has happened since then.
  • According to U.S. News and World Report, Northeast Ohio hospitals ranked in the top 10 of 11 specialty areas, including heart, pediatrics and urology.
  • TripAdvisor.com recently cited Cleveland as one of the top 10 most underrated destinations in the world
  • Cost of Living- A family of four can enjoy amenities and attractions in Northeast Ohio, comparable to any other major city or region in the nation, and save as much as 35%.
  • Site Selection Magazine named Ohio, for the fourth year in a row, as having the most new or expanded private-sector capital projects edging out Texas for the top spot.

One of the biggest issues facing Cleveland is its own inferiority complex.  Articles likes those written by Forbes don’t help to lift the region. To combat this issue, leaders organized an on-going branding effort to accentuate all the positive development in the Greater Cleveland region- Clevelandplus. (Check it out for the latest positive developments).

Before a magazine like Forbes creates a rankings that tags a city with a negative image, perhaps it could spend a little more time gathering information.  No doubt it overlooked all the recent developments I have highlighted.   

Maybe Forbes should issue a correction- Cleveland, one of the top 10 most improved Cities.  Just like Clevelanders, instead of dwelling on negatives, perhaps Forbes can start recognizing positive developments in its publication.


(Photo:  Innerbelt Bridge Design- ODOT webpage)