Sometimes our little corner of Ohio seems a little too much like Rodney Dangerfield. We get no respect.

Recent example: Forbes Magazine reports that our region ranks at the very top of America’s “unhappiest cities to work in.” According to Forbes, “Cincy workers expressed the most pessimism in the growth opportunities and compensation categories.” According to Forbes, happy workers are more likely to be found in places like San Jose and Salt Lake City, where vibrant economies provide more opportunities for advancement and higher pay.

Then there was a study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association finding that living in Metro ‘Nati will get you to death’s door more quickly, particularly if you are poor. Low-income life expectancy is 77.9 years here, a year or more less than in Cleveland (78.9) or even butter-laden New Orleans (79.4).

The thought that Cincinnati might be a “death tourism” destination for folks looking for an early exit could be a macabre talking point for our Chamber of Commerce.

Another example: A New York Times study showed our region lagging behind every major metropolitan area but Cleveland in job creation since the onset of the Great Recession. We have only about 5 percent more jobs here now than we did at the end of 2009. That puts us at 34 among 35 U.S. regions of more than 1 million. Over that same period, jobs in Columbus grew by 12 percent and jobs in Indianapolis grew by 15 percent.

Maybe that explains why all those Cincinnati workers are unhappy—there have been few new jobs here to get a raise or advance their careers. It explains why too many of our kids and local grads move elsewhere to begin their adult lives.

But if we ever decide to turn the page from the town that gets no respect, we could consider looking at what has worked for regions where job growth is not mired in single digits. The Times recently quoted MIT Economist Andrew McAfee on what those growing regions have in common:

“The ingredients to that formula seem to be some combination of great research universities and knowledge-intensive industries, whether it’s high tech on the West Coast, biotechnology here in the East or clusters of technology and robotics in places like Pittsburgh.”

Denver, one of those booming communities, had its own economic struggles back in the 1980s, but worked to overcome them. As the Times noted in the same article:

“[Denver’s] transformation into one of the most dynamic economies in the country was led by local business leaders and government officials, who took advantage of existing assets while also raising taxes at times to invest in critical transportation links, development-friendly policies and a network of colleges and universities.”

No, we don’t have the expansive mountain vistas—or the recreational pot—that has helped make Denver a magnet for the young, well-educated workers of tomorrow. But we do have the universities. Where we come up short is a sad inability to get beyond the blame game and invest in a modern transportation system, or robustly fund job creation efforts through our local port authority. Heck, our mayor and city council are still bickering about the streetcar and the benefits of any investment in public transit.

Of course, finding and empowering the political and business leaders who can work together to grow our local economy isn’t easy. The alternative may be to simply embrace our inner Dangerfield-ness and wallow in our lack of respect. The Visitors and Convention Bureau could run with this new slogan: “Cincinnati—Where You Meet Your Maker Faster!”