Vibrant NEO Champion Awards

2018 Vibrant NEO Awards
The 2022 Vibrant neo Champion awards will be held IN EARLY DECEMBER. stay tuned for more info!
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 2021 Vibrant NEO Champion Awards Luncheon was held on Thursday, November 18th. Congratulations to our winners!

2021 Regional champion Awards

Eastgate Council of Governments
Broadband Feasibility Study

  • Fast and reliable internet service is critical for economic development. Too many parts of our region – from urban cores to rural townships – lack this service.
  • One of the four overarching needs identified by the Eastgate study was “regional leadership and cooperation to support broadband deployment”, which truly underscores our theme of collaboration.
  • Implementing study recommendations will create new opportunities for community and economic development and improve quality of life. It will foster greater regional equity, so that no resident is left out of our economy because they have poor or no internet service

Fund for Our Economic Future
Paradox Prize Initiative

  • The paradox addressed in this innovative program is that most people in the region need a car to get to a job, but they need a job first to afford a car.
  • The prize program attempts to break this cycle. It was a $1 million dollar competition in 2019 that sourced nearly 150 proposals to develop a range of mobility solutions that connect people to good jobs.
  • Eight pilot projects were selected across Northeast Ohio and are now being implemented. They’ve already helped over 600 people, with over 150 businesses participating.
  • This Paradox Prize is a great example of how working together benefits the region too – other project partners included the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, The Lozick Family Foundation, Cuyahoga County, Greater Cleveland Partnership, and the Cleveland Foundation.

City of Oberlin
Climate Action Plan

  • The Climate Action Plan was created in 2007 with a goal of zero carbon by 2050. The 2019 update develops new strategies and funding sources to implement the plan.
  • Working with the municipal power company, the city sold renewable energy credits to raise $2.8 million dollars to spend on reducing carbon emissions.
  • Projects include an electric vehicle car-share, home efficiency and weatherization, food waste composting, solar panel installation, and more.
  • Equity is a key component of the plan, with funding targeted at low-income residents and supporting diversity throughout the city.

Wayne County Rails to Trails
Heartland Trail

  • Rails to Trails is an innovative way to make the most of existing and under-utilized infrastructure, by converting abandoned rail lines to all-purpose trails.
  • This off-road trail is a safe and convenient way for Wayne residents to bike or walk for work, shopping, or fitness. It provides easy access to many industrial and commercial properties, where jobs and activity are clustered.
  • The trail also promoted collaboration and efficiency – the City of Orrville has administered three different grants, and the Village of Marshallville was a partner on the most recent grant. The Orrville Area Chamber of Commerce has also been a key champion.

2021 Individual Champion Award Winner

Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University and Dean Roland Anglin

The Levin College of Urban Affairs is regularly recognized as one of the best public affairs colleges in the nation, especially in Urban Planning & Policy, where it is ranked 2nd, and Local Government Management, where it is ranked 16th. Since its founding in 1977, the College has been a thought leader on regional issues–providing reliable, objective data, conducting research and supporting the planning and development needs of NEO and the state. The College has been working with state, local and regional partners to design policy solutions to address the barriers to regional collaboration.

Researchers have looked at all aspects of regionalism:  the economy, employment trends, commuting patterns, housing affordability, land use issues, environmental issues, tax base sharing, sustainability, and governance. This deep body of research tells us that development patterns that result in sprawl without growth contribute to higher levels of inequality and social fragmentation and diminish the potential for regional economic growth.

Which brings us to Vibrant NEO. You might say that over several decades, the College helped to lay the foundation for Vibrant NEO by making the case that we are all in this together, and so it is critical that we all work together across urban, suburban and rural communities to improve quality of life for all residents to achieve our mission of a vibrant, sustainable, and resilient Northeast Ohio.