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Northeast Ohio Applies for Federal Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant

CLEVELAND--Aug. 24, 2010--In an unprecedented sign of regional collaboration, more than 20 public and private sector organizations submitted on behalf of Northeast Ohio an application for a multi-million dollar regional planning grant under the federal government’s new Sustainable Communities Regional Planning initiative.

The Fund for Our Economic Future and several of its member foundations convened the consortium of regional stakeholders to apply for the grant. The consortium is called the Northeast Ohio Consortium for a Regional Plan for Sustainable Development and it includes four metropolitan planning organizations, six county governments, five city governments and educational and nonprofit institutions from across Northeast Ohio. This marks the first time that all of the organizations involved have applied jointly for a federal grant.

The new federal initiative will provide as much as $5 million to pay for cooperative regional planning efforts that integrate housing, transportation, environmental impact and economic development. The federal initiative is being managed jointly by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation.

The federal initiative is designed to encourage more regional approaches to land use, housing, environmental and economic development issues.

The application was formally submitted by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA), the metropolitan planning organization (MPO) that serves five counties in Northeast Ohio. The other MPOs participating in the consortium serve seven additional counties in Northeast Ohio. The Fund, a collaboration of philanthropy in Northeast Ohio, helped pay for the consultants that organized the consortium and wrote the grant application. The George Gund Foundation in Cleveland, the Raymond John Wean Foundation in Warren, the Nord Family Foundation in Lorain County, the Stark Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of Lorain County also contributed funds to organize the application.

The regional consortium expects to learn if it will receive a planning grant later this year.

The consortium identified several key elements that would be included in a comprehensive regional planning effort that will address:

  • land use
  • transportation and mobility alternatives and infrastructure
  • equitable housing policies and priorities
  • community and neighborhood development policies and priorities
  • economic development growth policies and priorities.

The consortium’s application is a significant milestone in Northeast Ohio’s ability to act as a united region and be in a position to take advantage of an increasing number of federal programs designed to promote regional approaches to economic development, said Brad Whitehead, president, Fund for Our Economic Future.

“Regardless of the outcome of the grant application, more than 20 organizations from different sectors and different parts of our region have come together and made a commitment to long-range, regional planning. The active leadership from Akron, Cleveland, Youngstown and the many other cities and counties in the proposal development was inspirational. That type of regional commitment bodes well for our collective ability to build a more vibrant economic future for Northeast Ohio,” said Whitehead.

“This is a real proactive step forward for our region,” said NOACA Governing Board President and Lake County Engineer Jim Gills. ”While a number of our organizations have worked together in the past in providing a specific service, this represents a transformative opportunity for the region to have a planning process that can benefit the region as a whole.”

The Consortium Participants are: Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS)Eastgate Regional Council of Governments (Eastgate) Stark County Regional Planning Commission/Stark County Area Transportation Study (RPC/SCATS)Cuyahoga CountyLorain County Mahoning County Stark CountySummit CountyTrumbull CountyCity of AkronCity of CantonCity of ClevelandCity of Warren City of YoungstownAkron Metropolitan Housing AuthorityCleveland State University Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban AffairsCuyahoga Metropolitan Housing AuthorityFund for Our Economic FutureRegional Prosperity Initiative Stark Metropolitan Housing Authority