SCENARIOS are stories about the future. They summarize likely future outcomes based on what we know about the present and what we know about how the world works. Every weather forecast, for example, presents a scenario for the future, based on what meteorologists know about the current weather and what they know about how weather patterns develop.
VibrantNEO 2040’s scenarios will tell stories about our possible futures, based on where Northeast Ohio is today and the choices we might make about how we use our land and how we invest our resources. Once we create these scenarios, we will be able to compare how successful they are at achieving our common goals for the region, judge which choices would be best for Northeast Ohio’s future, and create a shared vision and framework for the future around those choices.
VibrantNEO 2040’s Scenario Planning
Step 1: Where is Northeast Ohio today?
Every VibrantNEO 2040 scenario will start with measuring where we are now and identifying trends that may affect our future: These include what is happening with our population, how are we using land, what policies are we pursuing and enacting, what are we investing in, and many more factors.
Step 2: What if we keep doing what we are doing now?
The first scenario VibrantNEO 2040 will develop is called “Business-As-Usual.” It outlines what Northeast Ohio’s future will look like if we keep doing what we are currently doing – what will our communities look like, how successful will our economy be, and how much will it likely cost us, if we keep our current policies and approaches to land use, transportation and development in place?
Step 3: What if we pursue different priorities?
Once we know what will happen if we keep doing what we are currently doing, we can begin to ask how the future might change if we start doing things differently. What if we decide to protect certain types of land use or choose to make broadening the different types of housing options available to Northeast Ohioans our number one goal? Each of these choices could lead to a different scenario.
To know which scenarios to create, VibrantNEO 2040 is asking people from all across Northeast Ohio to participate in scenario-building exercises that will help make sure we are focused on the things Northeast Ohioans think are most important. Working with the information gathered through these exercises and the other ways the public can participate, we will develop a small set of ALTERNATIVE scenarios about Northeast Ohio’s future to go along with the Business-As-Usual scenario.
Step 4: What scenarios lead to the best outcomes?
To judge the choices we make in the Business-As-Usual scenario and the other scenarios we develop, we will need to identify Scenario Indicators, which allow us to measure and compare trends and likely outcomes in the different scenarios. These indicators will reflect Northeast Ohio’s priorities, will be easy to understand, will work across all the scenarios being reviewed, and will help show our region’s long-term health. The indicators that we settle on will serve as a scorecard to rate the different scenarios. Based on this scorecard we will be able to judge the results of the choices we might make.
Step 5: How should we prioritize our choices for Northeast Ohio?
In addition to knowing the likely results of the choices we make, we also need to know what our choices will cost, and how they might pay off. For this, VibrantNEO 2040 will develop a detailed Fiscal Impact Analysis, which will allow us to explore the financial trade-offs we might have to make to achieve our goals for the region. With our scenarios, indicators, and fiscal impact analysis in hand, VibrantNEO 2040 will challenge Northeast Ohioans to have a thoughtful, region-wide conversation about what we really value about our region and what we are willing to invest in those values.
Step 6: What does our preferred vision of Northeast Ohio’s future look like?
Knowing what we as Northeast Ohioans value and how we prefer to prioritize our region’s choices and investments, VibrantNEO 2040 will take what we have learned from its different scenarios – what worked best in each scenario in pursuing Northeast Ohio’s goals and priorities – and build a new scenario for the region that maximizes our outcomes. This will be the final product of VibrantNEO’s Scenario Planning: Our region’s Preferred Scenario for its future.
VibrantNEO’s Preferred Scenario will represent the best path that Northeast Ohio can take to create the kind of future it wants for this region. Once the Preferred Scenario is complete, VibrantNEO 2040 will turn to its next step of moving Northeast Ohio down this path: IMPLEMENTATION