Vibrant NEO Champion Awards

2018 Vibrant NEO Awards
The 2021 Vibrant NEO Awards Call for EntrieS DEADLINE IS EXTENDED!
Vibrant NEO annually recognizes projects, programs, and policies conducted by communities, businesses, nonprofits, and civic groups within the 12-county Northeast Ohio region that demonstrate leadership in the advancement of the Vibrant NEO vision and its four major themes:
  • Strengthen Established Communities
  • Increase Transportation Choice
  • Preserve and Protect Natural Resources
  • Promote Collaboration and Efficiency

The 2020 Vibrant NEO Champion Awards Luncheon was held on Thursday, November 19th. Congratulations to our winners!

2020 Regional champion Awards

City of Lakewood
Affordable Housing Strategy

  • A suite of programs and projects committed to maintaining affordable housing
  • The goal is to be equitable and have housing options for all income levels in a growing and popular city
  • The strategy includes a Rental Restoration Program; building new homes; fostering partnerships with non-profits and housing authorities; and connecting residents with city or outside resources

City of Lorain
Broadway Streetscape

  • Redesigned downtown Lorain to provide gathering spaces and foster a greater sense of community
  • The project included, among others, wider sidewalks, improved crossings, redesigned parking, 60 new streetlights, and gateway signage. All of this was done to improve safety, encourage sitting, walking, and cycling, and help tourists navigate
  • The street redesign was a catalyst for several downtown businesses being renovated or newly opened, headlined by the Ariel Hotel on Broadway, a redevelopment of a long-vacant nationally registered historic building on the waterfront

Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency
Diversity and Inclusion Policy

  • Package of policies including Environmental Justice, Urban Core Communities, and Disadvantaged Communities to center equity in the NOACA planning and funding process
  • Provides extra consideration in project prioritization and reduces or eliminates local funding requirements for communities that meet certain criteria

2020 Individual Champion Award Winner

Jim Rokakis

  • Jim is Vice President of Western Reserve Land Conservancy and Director of its Thriving Communities Institute.  He is involved in a number of activities, including the establishment of almost 60 County Land Banks throughout Ohio and working in Columbus and Washington, D.C. to raise funds for Ohio communities to deal with distressed properties.Rokakis served for 19 years on the Cleveland City Council – the last seven as chairman of the finance committee.  In 1997, Rokakis took office as Cuyahoga County Treasurer.  Faced with Cuyahoga County’s mortgage foreclosure crisis, Rokakis worked with legislators to have introduced and  passed House Bill 294, which streamlined the foreclosure process for abandoned properties.  Additionally, Rokakis was the driving force behind a bill that allowed for the creation of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation, also known as the Cuyahoga Land Bank.Former Attorney General, and current Governor Mike DeWine recently stated that Rokakis was the reason behind his decision to allocate 75 million dollars of Ohio’s 93 million dollars from the “Robo-signing” settlement for demolition.  Rokakis helped to put the Ohio program and its rules into place.  He played an integral role in the U.S. Treasury Department’s decision to allocate a portion of the Hardest Hit Fund for demolition and in Cuyahoga County’s commitment of $50 million dollars for demolition. Working with the Ohio Congressional delegation he led the effort to reallocate an additional 2 billion dollars to the Hardest Hit Funds in December of 2016—with 192 million of those dollars coming to Ohio.  To date, Rokakis has raised almost 450 million for the demolition of almost 40,000 blighted structures in Ohio.