Friends of Manufacturing

How the Rust Belt Is Shaking Off Its Rust


In interviews with hundreds of local scientists, university presidents, business executives, startup entrepreneurs, and local officials all over the country for our book, we found a sharp contrast with the political mood in Washington, DC. Instead of despondency, we found widespread excitement about major breakthroughs in innovation that were beginning to translate into transformational new products. Moreover, this innovation is not the preserve of the Silicon Valley-Cambridge-Austin triangle. There are well over 35 of these “brainbelts” all over the country, many of them in forgotten Rust Belt cities that once had been industrial and manufacturing powerhouses, like Akron and Pittsburgh. Today, many of these rustbelt cities are reinventing how we make things and, as a result, are becoming vibrant again after decades of decline. And yes, these cities that had been successful in becoming brain belts had not voted for Trump.

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