$13 billion MIGHT be a good start

With the stars seemingly aligned for a major nation-building project in America, more than 125 Rust Belt cities have published individual lists of projects to improve schools, roads, water systems, public transit and other local priorities.

Taken together, the lists - part of the Mainstreet Economic Recovery initiative led by the U.S. Conference of Mayors - call for approximately $13 billion in public works spending to rebuild cities and generate more than 143,300 job opportunities throughout the Midwest.

Some cities clearly provided more complete plans of action than others.

Akron, OH, for example - population approximately 208,000 - prepared a $925 million future-oriented spending plan to buy busses, install solar energy systems, restore neighborhood waterways and modernize schools.

Minneapolis, on the other hand - population approximately 373,00 - outlined just one priority: a $1.3 million rehab of a tunnel on 10th Avenue.

Cleveland, OH has yet to file its wish list.

My hometown Grand Rapids, MI outlined a $163 million agenda to, among other things, expand one public park, develop a couple wind and solar projects, and upgrade the sewer system.

All good and proper work that no doubt would continue GR's impressive renaissance. But it's a drop of water in Lake Michigan compared to the level of investment Michigan's second largest city truly needs to grow and sustain its health and wealth in the 21st century.

I suspect the same is true of the other 125-plus cities.

In Detroit, $832 million installs a few downtown crosswalks, replaces some bridges and removes 40,000 dead trees. What about replanting?

Which makes you wonder...what's the true cost of Rust Belt recovery and revitalization?