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An Initiative A Day 5.4: Evaluate the condition of all existing rail trackage and rail crossings to determine what investments would be necessary to bring substandard infrastructure up to standard for freight and passenger service.

February 13, 2014 in Vibrant NEO 2040, Vision

On February 25, the NEOSCC Board will be voting on the the Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Action Products.  Everyday over the next 5 weeks,  we will be sharing an “Initiative A Day” so you can gain a better understanding of the vision and framework!  If you would like to read all of the Initiatives, you can download them here: Recommendation and Initiatives.

Show your support for Vibrant NEO 2040 by adding your name to our Champions of Vibrant NEO 2040 list here!

Initiative 5.4: Evaluate the condition of all existing rail trackage and rail crossings to determine what investments would be necessary to bring substandard infrastructure up to standard for freight and passenger service.

Photo: All Aboard Ohio

WHAT THIS MEANS: Similar to other proposed asset inventory initiatives (3.1, 3.4), a rail network inventory is a necessary first step to considering regional-scale investments in capacity expansion. This initiative would first involve a survey of the current extent of the rail network, including closed and abandoned corridors, using existing geospatial data assets maintained by rail companies, transit operators, port authorities, and MPOs. A field survey should accompany secondary data collection, with particular focus on evaluating the conditions of tracks, bridges, and rail crossings. This process should engage all stakeholders involved in development and maintenance of the rail system, including rail companies, port authorities, transit operators, and MPOs. Once data are collected, stakeholders would evaluate findings and prioritize investment areas based on market demand, safety needs, and prospective future uses.

The evaluation effort should include analysis of the following elements:

  • Condition of all rights-of-way including their carrying weights and opportunities for strengthening to increase freight transport demand;
  • Opportunities for removal of at-grade crossings; and
  • Opportunities for construction of sidetracks to improve operational effectiveness.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT:  Rail is a vital component of a region’s transportation system. Rail utilization has picked up appreciably in recent years thanks to the price volatility of fuel. This followed years of shrinking in the physical extent of the rail network nationally and regionally, as well as considerable business consolidation in the freight rail industry. An in-depth evaluation of the current state of existing rail assets would help to guide identification and prioritization of strategic opportunities for investment. This could include developing a regional commuter rail network linking various job centers, as suggested in the Vision Map, as well as a larger effort such as developing intercity passenger rail service between Cleveland, Youngstown, and Pittsburgh.

GETTING IT DONE: This initiative should be led by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC), an entity housed within the Ohio Department of Transportation. ORDC is uniquely positioned to engage rail companies as well as the necessary public sector stakeholders in a way that organizations in Northeast Ohio are not. It also warehouses extensive data resources pertaining to the state’s rail assets.

NEOSCC consortium members, particularly MPOs, should initiate outreach to ORDC highlighting the need for such an inventory and evaluation process. This initiative should, to the greatest extent possible, interface with other initiatives addressing the disposition of vacant land to inform investment priorities in particular kinds of improvements to the rail system. Once under way, a short-term moratorium should be placed on creating new at-grade crossings and converting freight rail rights-of-way to any other use, until the evaluation is complete.

Lead

Ohio Rail Development Commission; Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Target Community

Strategic investment areas, asset risk areas, cost risk areas

Implementation Complexity

Moderate

These recommendations, initiatives, and products, are not one-size-fits all and some aspects of the initiatives won’t be applicable everywhere in the 12-county region. The Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Products are intended inspire and guide decision-making at the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Council of Government, and local levels to ensure that land use, transportation, and environmental considerations are simultaneously addressed by their processes. Ultimately, the implementation of Vibrant NEO 2040 is up to Northeast Ohio’s communities and residents. But regardless of the applicability of each initiative to any particular part of the region, the goal for each community within the Vision is the same: stability, prosperity, and a high quality of life for all of its residents.

Initiative A Day 2.1: Strengthen regional job centers—and the corridors that connect them

January 26, 2014 in Vibrant NEO 2040, Vision

On February 25, the NEOSCC Board will be voting on the the Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Action Products.  With just under 40 days to the vote and 41 initiatives in the vision, we thought it would be good to create a countdown to the vote.  Everyday over the next 5 weeks,  we will be sharing an “Initiative A Day” with you so you can gent a better understanding of the vision and framework!  If you would like to read all of the Initiatives, you can download them here Vibrant NEO_Recs&Init_010114.  

Show your support for Vibrant NEO 2040 by adding your name to our Champions of Vibrant NEO 2040 list here

These recommendations, initiatives, and products, are not one-size-fits all and some aspects of the initiatives won’t be applicable everywhere in the 12-county region.  The Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Products are intended inspire and guide decision-making at the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), Council of Government, and local levels to ensure that land use, transportation, and environmental considerations are simultaneously addressed by their processes. Ultimately, the implementation of Vibrant NEO 2040 is up to Northeast Ohio’s communities and residents. But regardless of the applicability of each initiative to any particular part of the region, the goal for each community within the Vision is the same: stability, prosperity, and a high quality of life for all of its residents.

 

Recommendation 2: Develop a robust network of regional job centers connected by multimodal transportation corridors within and between counties

Initiative 2.1: Strengthen regional job centers—and the corridors that connect them—by diversifying and intensifyingland uses and investing in strategic local economic development within them.

WHAT THIS MEANS. Jobs are key to securing Northeast Ohio’s future health and prosperity, and quality places are key to securing jobs. With the generational preferences about what constitutes a “quality place” shifting toward values such as walkability, accessibility, and mixing of uses, communities and employers alike are scrambling to create contexts where people can and want to work. Northeast Ohio must recognize this and act decisively if it is to remain competitive with other regions.

One component in strengthening regional job centers and corridors is to address and remove provisions in land use plans and zoning codes that discourage dense, mixed-use projects, or make them difficult to deliver. This can involve a host of strategies discussed elsewhere in these recommendations, from creating mixed-use or planned unit development overlays to reducing or eliminating parking minimums. By developing more flexible and streamlined zoning and administrative review processes, municipalities make an important contribution to reducing the high transaction costs facing developers and employers and ease their ability to deliver the kind of dense, diversified places where people increasingly want to work and live.

Some Northeast Ohio communities will want to be even more deliberate, targeting development in the regional centers identified in the Vibrant NEO 2040 vision map. Municipalities can encourage such development by making targeted investment in the physical infrastructure, social services, and marketing of the place—or by identifying and cultivating local stakeholders. Cleveland’s HealthLine bus rapid transit (BRT) investment is the strongest local example of such as deliberate development strategy.

The City of Cleveland’s decade’s long partnership with the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) and four stakeholder-led local development corporations and improvement districts —University Circle, MidTown Cleveland, the Campus District, and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance—along the 5-mile Euclid Corridor between Downtown Cleveland and University Circle, the city’s major cultural district. The city and GCRTA collaborated to undertake a complete upgrade of the transit service on this heavily travelled corridor, replacing curb-running local bus service with articulated busses running in an exclusive center median right-of-way. The development corporations partnered with the city and each other to coordinate significant reinvestment in the properties along the corridor. These public-private partnerships have resulted in a transit oriented corridor with an impressive cluster of educational, medical and cultural institutions, private businesses, and business incubators focused on health care and health innovation, a major growth field in the 21st century.

WHY THIS IS IMPORTANT. An economically strong Northeast Ohio requires jobs located on sites that are both accessible to the region’s population and well-served by the region’s freight networks. Concentrating employment so complementary businesses can be near each other helps to create relationships and linkages that drive value creation. Concentrating businesses also allows transit to serve multiple employers and their employees with efficient routes. Providing for freight connections to these concentrated areas also reduces shipping time and cost, increasing the economic viability throughout the centers.

The Cleveland Opportunity Corridor is an example of a center- and corridor-based redevelopment strategy currently under development through a partnership of the City of Cleveland and the State of Ohio. The Opportunity Corridor envisions constructing a boulevard to connect the rapidly expanding University Circle neighborhood into the region’s roadway network. (citation: Ohio Department of Transportation, Cleveland Opportunity Corridor, http://www.dot.state.oh.us/projects/clevelandurbancoreprojects/opportunitycorridor/Pages/default.aspx).

While the project proposal envisions both substantial adaptive reuse of existing properties and the intensification of existing land uses, (highlighted in 3.4), the major public investment proposed is limited to the development of a new highway. A infrastructure planning strategy that incorporates the full range of transportation modes will be the appropriate approach for most urban employment corridors and centers.

GETTING IT DONE. The region already has a strong framework of centers and connective corridors, but action will need to happen on several levels in order to capitalize on the potential of the framework. Local governments will need to lead the way on getting land use right, reviewing and revising zoning codes and plans as necessary, and engaging local stakeholders to target investments in the job centers and corridors of the future. Transportation investments will occur through the Ohio Department of Transportation and local transit agencies, which should be coordinated with local government’s efforts via MPOs and COGs. In addition to coordinating public sector stakeholders, MPOs and COGs should play a key role in collecting and disseminating best practices.

POLICY: Nurture the Region’s Industry Clusters: Organizing the region strategically around clusters of regional specialization can help target investment decisions and reduce duplication of effort. These efforts should focus on how to make the region’s successful clusters grow and prosper and enable the region to be proactive in terms of funding and other opportunities.

PILOT PROJECT: The Austen BioInnovation Institute in Akron – an exceptional collaboration of Akron Children’s Hospital, Akron General Health System, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Summa Health System, The University of Akron and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation – is focused on patient-centered innovation and commercialization at the intersection of biomaterials and medicine. The strategic alignment of institutional, state, federal and philanthropic support, accompanied with Akron’s rich legacy in industrial and materials science, is working to pioneer the next generation of life-enhancing and life-saving innovation that will transform Akron and the surrounding region into a model for biomedical discovery and enterprise. http://www.abiakron.org/

Lead

Municipalities, Townships, Counties; Metropolitan Planning Organizations, Councils of Governments

Target Community

Strategic investment areas, asset risk areas, cost risk areas

Implementation Complexity

Moderate

NEOSCC Board approves release of Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Products

December 18, 2013 in Products, Scenario Planning, Tool, Toolkiit, Vibrant NEO 2040

NEOSCC Board approves release of Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Framework and Products

Member organizations to now consider Vision for approval

The Board of Directors of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) yesterday voted to release the Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, Products and Framework documents to NEOSCC member organizations for review, consideration and potential vote of approval.  The NEOSCC Board will take a final vote on approval of the Vision at its February 25, 2014 meeting.  You can review the board meeting presentation above.

 “Over the course of the last year, NEOSCC has engaged residents, elected officials, and experts throughout our 12-county region in a rigorous scenario planning process to identify the choices we can make now to help create a Northeast Ohio that is more vibrant, resilient, and sustainable in the future,” said Hunter Morrison, NEOSCC Executive Director. “Based on input and feedback from residents and leaders, the overarching objectives of the Vibrant NEO 2040 Regional Vision seeks to pursue are:

  • Promote investment in Northeast Ohio’s established communities;
  • Protect our soil, water, air, and ecologically sensitive areas;
  • Improve our regional fiscal health;
  • Develop our regional economy with accessible employment opportunities;
  • Enhance our regional transportation network;
  • Cultivate and celebrate our local assets and places of public value;
  • Expand our parks and open-space network; and
  • Preserve and value our prime farmland as a regional economic asset.”

This fall, NEOSCC and the Vibrant NEO 2040 team presented the objectives and potential recommendations during a series of public meetings, seven subject matter caucuses and to its board. Utilizing the feedback received, nine recommendations and 41 initiatives emerged as the foundation for the Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision and Framework.

“We recognize the recommendations and initiatives are not “one size fits all” solutions,” added Mr. Morrison.  “We understand that some of initiatives will not be applicable to all parts of the 12-county region. Lastly, implementation of individual initiatives will be a decision at the local level. The intent of NEOSCC in developing the Vibrant NEO 2040 regional vision and framework is that its recommendations, development standards, indicator targets, and action products be available for implementation at the Metro and local levels at the option of their respective decision makers.”

The recommendation and initiatives, derived through a comprehensive development process over the course of 2013 and driven by the preferences and values of Northeast Ohio residents, are essentially steps and tools for realizing the Vision NEO 2040 Vision.

The nine Vision NEO 2040 Recommendations, and their related Initiatives, are:

Please note that NEOSCC recognizes that the recommendations and initiatives are not “one size fits all” solutions.  We understand that some of initiatives will not be applicable to all parts of the 12-county region. Lastly, implementation of individual initiatives will be a decision at the local level.  The intent of NEOSCC in developing the Vibrant NEO 2040 regional vision and framework is that its recommendations, development standards, indicator targets, and action products be available for implementation at the Metro and local levels at the option of their respective decision makers.

1.       Focus new residential and commercial development on sites within established communities

  • Initiative 1.1: Encourage infill and redevelopment through the use of tax credits and other direct and indirect public incentives.
  • Initiative 1.2: Fix it first: continue to privilege projects that maintain the existing road network in a state of good repair, rather than building additional capacity.
  • Initiative 1.3: Improve the ability of municipalities and townships to analyze the long-term impacts of new development and better manage their own development.
  • Initiative 1.4: Continue development throughout the region in accordance with local zoning requirements and preferences, but prioritize public subsidies to projects within the region’s established communities.
  • Initiative 1.5: Require the users of new sewer extensions that serve previously unsewered areas to pay the full cost of service.
  • Initiative 1.6: Consider instituting a land value tax to replace existing improvement-based property assessment and taxation methods.

2.       Develop a robust network of regional job centers connected by multimodal transportation corridors within and between counties

  • Initiative 2.1: Strengthen regional job centers—and the corridors that connect them—by diversifying and intensifying land uses and investing in strategic local economic development within them.
  • Initiative 2.2: Use transit oriented development (TOD) to create stronger, more accessible, regional job centers.
  • Initiative 2.3: Implement a tiered approach to local parking requirements.

3.       Pursue the remediation, assembly, marketing, and redevelopment of abandoned properties at both the local and regional levels

  • Initiative 3.1: Develop and maintain a regional vacant industrial and commercial properties database and criteria for determining the most appropriate successive use, whether for redevelopment, green infrastructure, food production, or parks, or natural areas.
  • Initiative 3.2: Expedite permitting and remove barriers for adaptive reuse of abandoned buildings and empty lots.
  • Initiative 3.3: Expand and coordinate existing land bank efforts to acquire, assemble, manage, and dispose of vacant properties throughout the region.
  • Initiative 3.4: Identify, evaluate, and—where appropriate—pursue the reuse of vacant and abandoned industrial sites endowed with significant preexisting infrastructure that could provide unique opportunities for regional economic development. Advocate for a brownfield redevelopment fund and promote these sites through a large-scale marketing campaign.

4.       Encourage a higher frequency of mixed-use development and a range of diverse, affordable housing options

  • Initiative 4.1: Include mixed-use designations and/or planned unit overlay districts in zoning codes throughout the region.
  • Initiative 4.2: Include traditional small-lot, compact single-family and townhouse residential designations in zoning codes throughout the region.
  • Initiative 4.3: Offer financial incentives to developers that incorporate affordable housing units into their projects and implement inclusionary zoning in markets with widespread affordability gaps.
  • Initiative 4.4: Offer financial literacy and housing education programs for tenants and homeowners. Focus on areas in established communities where investments in housing are underway.

5.       Enhance and coordinate the region’s rail and bus services

  • Initiative 5.1: Invest in a regional network of bi-directional public transit connections between Northeast Ohio’s major job centers.
  • Initiative 5.2: Create a network of high-frequency express and local transit routes connecting the region’s job centers. Prioritize infill development in the corridors served by these routes. In the short and medium terms, upgrade high-performing existing bus routes and create new bus routes in designated corridors. In the long term, upgrade the highest-demand routes into commuter rail service.
  • Initiative 5.3: Coordinate the region’s transit systems for joint marketing, information technology, and fare media, including information regarding private transit resources such as university/health system shuttles, private bus services, airport transportation, etc.
  • Initiative 5.4: Evaluate the condition of all existing rail trackage and rail crossings to determine what investments would be necessary to bring substandard infrastructure up to standard for freight and passenger service.

6.       Enhance walking and cycling as transportation options to increase regional mobility and improve public health

  • Initiative 6.1: Expand the existing bicycle lane and trail system and connect it to regional transit hubs via on-and-off street facilities.
  • Initiative 6.2: Repair existing sidewalks and crosswalks and add new ones as needed wherever a fixed-route bus service is in operation.
  • Initiative 6.3: Promote “Complete Streets” through regional policy and the identification of local champions.
  • Initiative 6.4: Collaborate with school districts and local communities to further develop safe routes to school, encouraging walking and biking, and site new schools in walkable locations.

 7.       Preserve our natural areas for future generations, provide outdoor recreation opportunities, and develop a regional approach to protecting air, water, and soil quality

  • Initiative 7.1: Expand and connect the existing network of parks, trails, rivers, lakes, and natural areas through continued partnerships with private land owners, land conservancies, land trusts, community members, and local governments.
  • Initiative 7.2: Support and expand green infrastructure options for flood control and general water management, both at the local level with projects like green alleys and bioswales, and at the regional level with a network of large, upstream water retention areas.
  • Initiative 7.3: Improve regional quality of life and health by focusing on the interface between natural and human systems in the areas of flood mitigation, storm water run-off, and clean beaches and the water quality of our lakes, rivers, and streams.
  • Initiative 7.4: Strengthen and expand watershed partnerships that foster communication and collaboration between upstream and downstream communities across all 15 Northeast Ohio watershed geographies.
  • Initiative 7.5: Expand collaboration between existing natural resource districts and consider the creation of new districts where appropriate.
  • Initiative 7.6: Develop and maintain a natural resources inventory of the region.

 8.       Support sustainable agriculture and the local food system in Northeast Ohio

  • Initiative 8.1: Support the expansion of community supported agriculture (CSAs), farmer cooperatives, farm-to-school programs, and other existing mechanisms that support sustainable agriculture and enhance food access.
  • Initiative 8.2: Partner with individual landowners, the food processing industry, and local organizations to protect agriculturally valuable land for future generations.
  • Initiative 8.3: Review and amend local ordinances to allow for small- and moderate-scale urban farming on occupied and vacant parcels that are environmentally safe for growing food.
  • Initiative 8.4: Support the work of local food initiatives to share best practices and identify policies of regional significance.

 9.       Increase collaboration among the region’s government agencies to expand information sharing and find more cost-effective means of providing essential services

  • Initiative 9.1: Study privatization and public-private partnerships as means to fund critical infrastructure projects that cannot be funded solely through public dollars.
  • Initiative 9.2: Utilize joint procurement strategies and the sharing of facilities, staff, and other resources wherever possible to save money on the provision of public services.
  • Initiative 9.3: Identify one or more organizations that will host and maintain the technical resources created by NEOSCC so that they will remain current, accurate, and available for future regional visioning and planning.
  • Initiative 9.4: Align MPO/COG/ODOT transportation model inputs and continue to collaborate, share information, and align policy objectives across the multiple regional planning agencies of Northeast Ohio.
  • Initiative 9.5: Foster greater engagement between MPOs/COGs and organizations/initiatives that address natural resources, parks, sewer, public health, housing, education, private business investment, and economic development.
  • Initiative 9.6: Sustain the momentum of NEOSCC by continuing to convene stakeholders to identify and address regional issues and to advance the region’s collaborative capacity.

In addition to the Vision, the Board also reviewed and approved the Action products, developed by NEOSCC to encourage, equip, and support Northeast Ohioans to learn, share, create, and act together to build a more vibrant future this year.  The Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision and these products are meant to inspire and guide decision-making at the MPO, COG, and local level to ensure that land use, transportation, and environmental considerations are simultaneously addressed by their processes

The Action Product are:

  1.  Dashboard: a visualization tool that communicates a set of indicators and metrics, against which progress toward the Vibrant NEO 2040 vision will be measured.
  2. Tool Kit & Best Practices: implementation tools and techniques to realize the regional preferred vision developed through Vibrant NEO 2040.
  3. Policy Recommendations: a framework for analyzing the effects existing policies have on the region and determining what may be needed to create desired change.
  4. Pilots: emerging best practices that show promise in moving the region towards the Vibrant NEO 2040 preferred vision.

The Action Products are aligned with final Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision themes, recommendations & initiatives. The Dashboard & Policy Recommendations are higher-level and aligned with recommendations.  The Tools, Best Practices & Pilots are aligned by initiative.

Less than 2 weeks until Vision Sessions!

September 25, 2013 in ACT, Engagement, Scenario Planning

Over the course of the last year, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) engaged residents, elected officials, and experts throughout our 12-county region in a rigorous scenario planning process. Our goal throughout this process has been to work out what choices we can make now that will give our region the greatest chance for success in the future. Two sets of past events drew hundreds of Northeast Ohio residents from all over the region to give their feedback.

The final phase of our project will synthesize a shared vision around our region’s priorities and assets based on that feedback—then provide recommendations on how we might get there.

This upcoming set of events will present to the public its proposed Vibrant NEO 2040 Vision, a strategic and inspirational roadmap for the future of the region that has been built upon everything we have heard and learned to-date. This work will answer the questions, “where do we want to go, and how will we get there?” Each Vision Session will include an interactive presentation with polling, followed by an informal open house and Q&A session.

Information about the first two set of events, which allowed us to build up to the proposed plan, can be found on our website: Phase One Workshop and Open Houses.

Online registration for all workshops is available at the links below. Prior registration is not required, but is encouraged. 

 

Mon., October 7:

Lorain County Community College (Spitzer Conference Center)

1005 North Abbe Road, Elyria, OH 44035

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-LCCC

 

Tues., October 8:

 

Akron Urban League

440 Vernon Odom Boulevard, Akron, OH 44307

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Akron-Urban

 

 

Weds., October 9:

 

Harvey Rice Elementary School

2730 E. 116th Street , Cleveland, OH 44120

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Harvey-Rice

 

 

Thurs., October 10:


Raymond John Wean Foundation

147 West Market Street, Warren, OH 44481

10:30AM Registration/11:00-12:30PM Program

 

 

Youngstown State University Williamson Conference Center

221 North Hazel Street, Youngstown OH 44503

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

 

http://tinyurl.com/vision-YSU

 

Mon., October 14:

 

Fairview Park Gemini Recreation Center

21225 Lorain Road – Fairview Park, Ohio 44126

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Gemini-Rec

 

Tues., October 15:

PARTA Kent Central Gateway

201 East Erie Street – Kent, Ohio 44240

10:30AM Registration/11:00-12:30PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-PARTA

 

Tues., October 15:

Stark State College Silk Auditorium

6200 Frank Avenue Northwest, North Canton, OH 44720

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Stark

 

Weds., October 16:

Kent State University Ashtabula Campus Blue and Gold Room

3300 Lake Road West – Ashtabula, Ohio, 44004

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Ashtabula

 

Thurs., October 17:

Lake Erie College Morley Music Hall

391 West Washington Street – Painesville, Ohio 44077

6:00PM Registration/6:30-8:00PM Program

http://tinyurl.com/vision-Lake-Erie

 

Today kicks off the next round of Vibrant NEO Open Houses

July 29, 2013 in ACT, News, Scenario Planning, Vibrant NEO 2040

Today kicks off the next round of Vibrant NEO Open Houses where we will look at Alternative Scenarios - different potential futures for Northeast Ohio - that could result from different choices.
These are critically important discussions.  The entire Vibrant NEO process is an attempt to help the residents of Northeast Ohio define what we want for the future, and then determine what choices we need to make in order to get to the future. 
The first round of workshops in early May helped to define a baseline for discussion – i.e. what will Northeast Ohio look like in 2040 is we continue our currents trends.  (You can learn more about these findings here.)
We gathered input from residents at those workshops, and later through ImagineMyNEO, our online planning tool which is still open for use.  That input has helped us create Alternative Scenarios that you can view and discuss at our Open Houses.  These scenarios help us see what can happen in the future if we make different choices now.  You can learn more in this comprehensive article from Steve Litt on Cleveland.com today.   
We hope you can join us at one of our Open Houses – the first one is tonight from 4:30 to 7:30 PM at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo. Here is the schedule for the next two weeks.

Daisy Plants itself in Wooster

July 11, 2013 in economic development, News

From The Daily Record
by Bobby Warren 

“Months of speculation regarding whether an agbioscience company would locate here officially ended Monday when the state’s tax credit authority granted Daisy Brand, a maker of sour cream and cottage cheese, incentives.

Until Monday, local leaders would only refer to the pending Daisy deal as Project Cream. It all began with a cold call in May 2012.

The Wayne Economic Development Council received a call from the company. There had been a search in the Great Lakes region for a new plant site because of the strong presence of dairy farms and dairy market, said Shawn Starlin, a project manager for WEDC. States that were being considered included Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania.

Company officials did their homework, Starlin said. In determining who to call, they looked at dairy statistics. Wayne County far exceeds all Ohio counties with its production of 600 million pounds of milk annually.

“It’s impressive,” Starlin said.

There were 77,700 cows in Wayne, Holmes, Tuscarawas, Stark and Medina counties as of January 2012. Wayne County has 32,500 of the cows, or 41 percent. The next closest is Holmes with 16,900.

But it took more than impressive dairy numbers to get it done. Company officials visited this area repeatedly, meeting with city and county leaders, economic development officials and utility representatives. They had site visits to the former First Farm along Akron Road next to LuK USA to make sure it would be suitable for a new production facility.

Daisy’s executives were looking for something else, too, something less tangible.

“They wanted to look at a facility in a small town or one with small-town values,” Starlin said…”

Click to read this article in its entirety, as well as others on The Daily Record

Ashtabula County’s Pairings Initiative

May 21, 2013 in Collaboration, economic development, News, Quality Connected Places

Located along Lake Erie and the Pennsylvania border in Northeastern Ohio, Ashtabula County is Ohio’s largest in terms of land area. However, it is not only the size of Ashtabula County that makes it unique among all Ohio counties. Its location and topography bestow upon it the most unique microclimate in the region. Situated where the Lake Erie escarpment is closest to the lake provides gradual warming temperatures in the spring and warm lake-effect air in the fall. This moderating microclimate and above-average to ideal soil conditions are perfect for growing grapes. Perched atop the remnants of glacial beaches and covered with vines planted over generations, the Lake Erie and Grand River Valley grape growing regions are the largest in Ohio. Ashtabula County alone produces 65% of all Ohio’s grapes.[1] Here lies the heart of Ohio wine country, where agriculture, economic development and tourism have come together through community collaboration to celebrate one of Northeast Ohio’s most valuable assets.

In 2008, a passionate group of business and civic community leaders began meeting to discuss opportunities for encouraging economic and community development initiatives for historic downtown Geneva, in Ashtabula County. With national, regional and local trends all indicating an increase in the popularity of wine and culinary tourism, the vision of creating a wine and culinary center was born. Northeast Ohio is home to 68% of Ohio’s nearly 2,000 grape-bearing acres, while Geneva and Ashtabula County are home to twenty wineries and counting. In fact, in 2007, Orbitz ranked the Grand River Viticulture Area in Ohio as the 6th favorite destination in the United States for culinary tourists.[2] The upshot of the past four years of collaboration is Pairings, Ohio’s Wine & Culinary Experience.

Pairings will eventually be a 38,000-square-foot non-profit culinary and education center on the old site of Geneva Elementary School. The center will include restaurant and banquet facilities, cooking classes, wine making demonstrations, incubator facilities for start-up wineries, educational culinary demonstrations, office space and a gift shop. The project will begin with a start-up “Windows on Pairings,” which will incorporate a barn currently on the property to help develop the facility’s business plan and hone its vision. According to Director Jennifer Brown, this has been an eventful week for Pairings, as the center became the pending lessee of the former Geneva Elementary property and gained another major sponsor, Debonne Vineyards.

For more information about Pairings, please contact Jennifer Brown at jbrown@pairingsohio.com or visit the Pairings website at www.pairingsohio.org. For more information about the Ohio wine industry, please contact Ohio Wine Producers Association Executive Director and Pairings Board Trustee, Donniella “Donnie” Winchell (dwinchell@pairingsohio.org). For more information about Ashtabula County tourism, please contact Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau Executive Director and Pairings Board President, Mark Winchell (mwinchell@pairingsohio.org).

The image below is a rendering of Pairings when complete. Construction on “Windows on Pairings” is scheduled to begin this fall.


[1] Ashtabula County Convention & Visitors Bureau (retrieved 5.17.2013 from http://visitashtabulacounty.com/).

[2] Pairings, Ohio’s Wine & Culinary Experience (retrieved 5.17.2013 from http://www.pairingsohio.org/backgroundandlocation.html).

Fund releases “What Matters to Metros” Report

May 8, 2013 in economic development, Engagement, News

Economic research plays an essential role in guiding the work of the Fund Fund for Our Economic Future, and helps them identify what matters and other key priorities in their work to advance a growing, opportunity-rich economy for the people of Northeast Ohio.  

What Matters to Metros™: Foundational Indicators for Economic Competitiveness helps community leaders identify factors that are associated with economic growth in mid-sized U.S. metropolitan areas in a post-recession economy.

Download the Fund’s report and its appendices.

This work builds upon six previous iterations (called the Dashboard of Economic Indicators) and assesses the relationship of 55 variables to economic growth across four measures: per capita income, gross metropolitan product (GMP), productivity and employment, between 1990 and 2011.

  • Together, higher education and innovation remain critical ingredients for prosperous, productive communities that generate higher incomes, but are not associated with overall job growth over the period.
  • Many metros that experienced high levels of employment growth did not necessarily see these jobs translate into higher incomes; in fact, inequality, poverty and crime tended to be more prevalent in those metro areas that saw the most job gains.
  • Entrepreneurship and local business development, particularly in metro areas with more diverse and/or integrated populations, is associated with every measure of growth: jobs, income, productivity and GMP.

What Matters to Metros™ can serve civic leaders in metros throughout the United States, but the research bears specific implications for the four largest metropolitan areas in Northeast Ohio: Akron, Canton, Cleveland and Youngstown. This research provides data that civic leaders and the Fund can use to ask more strategic questions about how “growth” can be pursued, and to identify their own distinct approaches to get there.

What Matters to Metros

A complete, sortable set of data used in What Matters to Metros™ is available for download. Please visit the Fund’s website for information on how to access the data.

What Matters to Metros™ is a comprehensive analysis of 115 mid-sized metropolitan areas between 1990 and 2011. Data, provided by Moodys.com, is available to help better understand your metro area and how it compares to others.

The Fund will be hosting community forums with partners in Northeast Ohio’s four metros in June 2013:

Canton
June 5, 9:30a-11:30a at the Stark Community Foundation (400 Market Ave N, Canton, OH 44702)
Partners:  Stark Community Foundation and the Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce

Warren/Youngstown
June 20, 8:30a-10:30a, D.D. and Velma Davis Education and Visitor Center, Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek MetroParks (123 McKinley Avenue, Youngstown, OH  44509)
Partners:  The Raymond John Wean Foundation and the Trumbull 100

Akron
June 24, 10a-12n Quaker Square Inn (135 S Broadway St., Akron, OH 44325)
Partners:  Akron Community Foundation and the University of Akron

Cleveland
June 28, 8a-10a, location TBD
Partners:  Saint Luke’s Foundation and The Community Foundation of Lorain County

Contact Emily Garr to keep up to date with Fund research.

Less than 1 week… Will you help create NEO’s Future?

April 24, 2013 in Engagement, Scenario Planning

What are you doing April 30, May 1 or May 2?  Creating NEO’s Future Depends on You?

Speak up and voice your opinions about OUR home!

What brought you to Northeast Ohio?

What keeps you here?

What do you value most about Northeast Ohio?

What will keep you and your family here in the future?

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) will be hosting a series of workshops to create a vision for a Vibrant NEO in the year 2040. Workshops will be two hours long and will be held at various locations throughout the region.  Please feel free to pick the time and location that is most convenient for you, regardless of your county of residence.

Your help is needed to help NEOSCC focus the workshops on issues that are most important to YOU – today and in the future!

CLICK ON THE BLUE LINKS BELOW TO REGISTER! ALL WORKSHOPS WILL BEGIN 6:30 PM.

April 30

Oberlin (Lorain, Medina, and western Cuyahoga)
The Oberlin Inn, 7 North Main Street, Oberlin, OH 44074

Warren (Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula)
John F. Kennedy High School, 2550 Central Pkwy Ave SE, Warren, OH 44484

May 1

Cleveland (Central Cuyahoga and inner-ring suburbs)
Third Federal Savings & Loan (Auditorium), 7007 Broadway Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44105

Canton (Wayne and Stark)
The Metropolitan Centre, 601 Cleveland Avenue NW, Canton, OH  44702

May 2

Akron (Summit and Portage)
Akron Urban League, 440 Vernon Odom Boulevard, Akron, OH 44307

Warrenville Hts. (Lake, eastern Cuyahoga, and Geauga)
Corporate College – East, 4400 Richmond Road, Warrensville Heights, OH 44128

GCRTA HealthLine named ‘Best BRT in USA’

April 17, 2013 in cleveland, Transportation

Photo by Joshua Gunter, The Plain Dealer

The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently received a Silver rating for the HealthLine – the highest ranking of a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System in United States.

The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP) presented the award for the HealthLine to Joseph Calabrese, CEO and General Manager, RTA, as well as to Mayor Frank Jackson, City of Cleveland, for its support of the project, on Tuesday, April 16 at 200 Public Square.

“The HealthLine is an example of how BRT can help to revitalize city centers, speed commutes, improve air quality, and leverage investment and development near transit, as we’ve seen with Cleveland,” said Walter Hook, ITDP CEO. “We consider the HealthLine to be a best practice for BRT in the US, and our hope is that it encourages other US cities to adopt this cutting-edge form of mass transit.”

Former Senator George Voinovich supported this project from his many years in Cleveland and served as its champion.

“It is a credit to the dedicated staff at RTA and the City of Cleveland that the HealthLine has been rated by the BRT Standard as the highest-quality bus rapid transit corridor in the United States,” said George Voinovich, retired Senator. “The HealthLine has not only dramatically improved transportation options from downtown to University Circle, it’s also been a catalyst for nearly six billion dollars of real estate investment along Euclid Avenue and is contributing a great deal toward revitalizing the city.”

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