In a market area that depended so much on industrial business for its strength, the flight of factories to offshore locations has hit especially hard, and will be the toughest challenge to overcome in the future. The region has lost over 500,000 manufacturing jobs since July 2000. Despite these dismal numbers, some pockets of growth exist in several areas of the Rustbelt. With the exception of Detroit, which continues to suffer from downtown office vacancy rates approaching 30 percent, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago and Milwaukee all have vacancy rates of less than 20 percent, and Chicago actually has some sizeable office projects underway. Office construction in the Windy City is up 66 percent compared to the first nine months of 2002, thanks to a $110-million project on South Wacker Drive and a $76-million project for the Chicago Transit Authority. Indianapolis has reason to cheer, too, with a $939-million airport expansion slated for completion by July 2007.
(in millions of dollars)