Coming together to create a Vibrant, Resilient and Sustainable Northeast Ohio
In June 2009 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined together to create the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The aim of the partnership is to help communities nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment.
The Partnership for Sustainable Communities works to coordinate federal housing, transportation, water, and other infrastructure investments to make neighborhoods more prosperous, allow people to live closer to jobs, save household time and money, and reduce pollution. The partnership agencies incorporate six principles of livability into federal funding programs, policies, and future legislative proposals. To learn more about the Livability Principles, see the document on the right.
During the summer of 2010, a group of key Northeast Ohio regional players, including the four Metropolitan Planning Organizations, six of the 12 counties, five of the largest cities, three metropolitan housing authorities, The Fund for Our Economic Future, the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and Cleveland State University convened to develop and submit a proposal for The Partnership for Sustainable Communities Category One: Planning Grants. During the proposal planning process, which was funded by the Fund for Our Economic Future, this unprecedented collaboration of stakeholders in Northeast Ohio agreed to establish a new, independent initiative with a formal, truly collaborative governance structure and a small but dedicated operating structure. The Northeast Ohio Area wide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) volunteered to serve as the Lead Applicant and Fiscal Agent on the proposal submission.
In November of 2010, Northeast Ohio was awarded a $4.25 million federal grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development to fund the development of a regional sustainability plan. In order to manage the three-year planning process, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) was established in January 2011. The NEOSCC will develop a coordinated and integrated approach to planning efforts for land use, transportation, economic and workforce development, and infrastructure investments for a 12-county planning area comprised of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Summit, Stark, Trumbull and Wayne counties.
The NEOSCC also received a matching program grant of $0.5 million from the Fund for our Economic Future [the “Fund”], itself a consortium of Northeast Ohio foundations.
Building on the original 23 member organizations, the NEOSCC Board has added 10 additional members for a total of 33 organizations. These members have committed over $2.3 million of in-kind services as part of the required match for the grant.
A small staff, participating members of the consortium, community leaders, and consultants lead the program work. During the course of the plan development, a variety of engagement efforts will be launched to facilitate input from stakeholders throughout the entire Northeast Ohio region.
NEOSCC’s purpose centers on three words:
- VIBRANT – Full of energy and enthusiasm; vigorous, lively, and vital.
- RESILIENT – Responsive to change; adaptable; Able to spring back; rebound
- SUSTAINABLE – Meeting present needs while retaining the ability to meet future needs; not exhausting resources, and,
NEOSCC’s mission is to create conditions for a more VIBRANT, RESILIENT, and SUSTAINABLE Northeast Ohio – Northeast Ohio that is full of vitality, a good steward of its built and natural resources, and that is adaptable and responsive to change.
NEOSCC is engaging Northeast Ohio to think about its future. It believes in creating a shared vision for the future that is developed through a robust community and stakeholder engagement process. It believes such a shared vision will result in a healthier, more economically and socially equitable future for our region.
NEOSCC believes that its public visioning processes must be fully representative of the region’s diversity of interests and it is committed to engaging communities at all levels who may not normally be involved in such planning initiatives. NEOSCC’s principles for engagement include:
- Transparent, effective and accountable communication and leadership
- Collaborative planning and engagement
- Being neither top-down or bottom-up but multi-directional
- Relationship building that leads to “acting like a region”
- Issue- and action-oriented planning that leads to “strategic doing” and tangible outputs.
NEOSCC’s primary task in pursuit of this mission and values is the development of Vibrant NEO 2040: A Framework for Our Future, which will include:
- A shared vision for our region
- A framework for Northeast Ohio’s communities to achieve vibrancy, resilience and sustainability
- A dashboard of key metrics to measure our region’s progress.
- A toolkit for action containing research and analysis, best practices, and pilot programs that will help Northeast Ohio move towards its preferred vision
- Policy and funding recommendations for Northeast Ohio’s civic leaders, and,
In addition, the Vibrant NEO 2040 process will result in a Vibrant NEO Network of engaged and connected stakeholders that have the “will and skill” to collaborate on regional vitality and fuel regional momentum.
NEOSCC believes in the importance of recognizing the relationships among land use, transportation, infrastructure investment, and environmental quality. NEOSCC will support land use patterns and decision-making processes that will:
- Encourage strategies promoting region-wide economic prosperity and housing equity
- Support the development of multiple, sustainable means of region-wide travel
- Restore and enhance NEO’s natural systems and significant built environments,
- Advance cost-effective investment in NEO’s infrastructure and public services,
- Improve environmental quality,
- Build collaborative regional initiatives, and,
- Catalyze community-focused economic development and place-based community design.
Ultimately, the outcome NEOSCC is working toward can be summed up in the three key words in its mission: A Northeast Ohio that is more VIBRANT, SUSTAINABLE AND RESILIENT.