The Fund for Our Economic Future announced today its support of the Stark County Economic Development Plan (Stark Plan) with a two-year award of up to $50,000. The grant reinforces the philanthropic collaborative's mission of advancing economic growth and equitable access to opportunity in Northeast Ohio ("Growth & Opportunity").
The Stark Plan grew from a multi-year local leadership discussion and report that ultimately became known as Strengthening Stark, which paints a sober picture of the status quo, set forth the Growth & Opportunity principles of job creation, job preparation and job access, and called for the community to work together in new ways to avoid a fate of becoming smaller, older and poorer.
Over the last six months, Stark economic development players have worked under the leadership of Stark Economic Development Board CEO Ray Hexamer to translate Strengthening Stark into an action agenda. Their work resulted in the proposed Stark Plan. It has been endorsed not only by the Stark Economic Development Board, but also by several chambers, political leaders, civic organizations, and foundations.
Fund Chair Mark Samolczyk, president and CEO of Stark Community Foundation, which has been instrumental in the Strengthening Stark effort, expressed gratitude for the Fund's support. "The Fund has been a major believer in this work and has contributed both financial resources as well as data and insight along the way. Now, a year after Strengthening Stark was published, the Fund is showing its support again by investing in the outgrowth of this work and the implementation of a county-wide economic development plan."
The Stark Plan sets up 37 different initiatives across seven thematic areas all designed to create economic growth and increase access to opportunity in the community. The full plan will be shared publicly in the coming weeks.
"Our Fund is supportive of this work because it embodies strong local Growth & Opportunity strategies connected to regional assets," said Fund President Brad Whitehead.
For more on the Fund's Growth & Opportunity framework and its three-fold emphasis on job creation, job preparation and job access, see its recent report, The Two Tomorrows, which includes recommendations for how to move toward a more competitive and inclusive tomorrow.