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Activists Rally for Seat at the Table in Economic Development Discussions

By Sam Allard, Scene 

Standing behind a row of symbolic folding chairs on the Plain Dealer Plaza outside 1801 Superior Ave., a group of 20-25 local activists rallied for a seat at the table in current regional economic development discussions. 

The group, organized as the Coalition for Open Regional Development (CORD), was spawned in part by a letter penned by attorney Rebecca Maurer in Crain's Cleveland Business, calling for transparency in the planning of a regional summit in 2019.  Both Maurer's letter and speakers Thursday argued that for a summit to be truly inclusive, community members must be involved from the very beginning of the process, including the two-day "design session" which kicked off on the second floor of 1801 Superior shortly after the rally concluded. 

"We demand that any regional summit be governed and led by a board that is representative of the region's diversity," said Avery Martens in introductory remarks, adding that a majority of board members should be elected by the community itself and should represent the region in race, gender, income level, occupation and geography. 

Speakers from Black Lives Matter Cleveland, Clevelanders for Public Transit, the Cuyahoga County Progressive Caucus, Northeast Ohio Black Health Coalition, Democratic Socialists of America, Standing Up for Racial Justice, the Ohio Student Association and other progressive groups approached the same message from different angles, championing related causes under the umbrella of economic justice. 

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