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Advanced Energy and Talent Development Initiatives Recieve Support

OBERLIN, OH--Sept. 1, 2009--The Fund for Our Economic Future today voted to award as much as $2.2 million to regional initiatives that will grow Northeast Ohio’s advanced energy industry and strengthen its talent development system.

The two grants were made during the Fund’s quarterly meeting of its Funders Committee held at Oberlin College. Formed in 2004, the Fund is a charitable collaboration of organizations and individuals that uses grantmaking, research and civic engagement to strengthen the 16-county region’s economic competitiveness. The Funders Committee is made up of representatives of 69 entities that have each contributed at least $100,000 to the Fund.

The first grant approved by the Fund is to NorTech, which will receive as much as $1.7 million over two years to accelerate commercial activity, job creation and capital attraction in the advanced energy industry. A non-profit organization that champions growth in the region’s high-tech economy, NorTech identified advanced energy last year as a key focus area for its work. The new initiative will build on the leadership of the Cleveland Foundation over the last several years in developing the region’s advanced energy industry. The advanced energy initiative, developed collaboratively by the foundation, the Fund and NorTech, will have two primary roles:

  • Build stronger connections among companies, institutions of higher education and the public sector to accelerate and strengthen the development of new commercial opportunities, expand existing companies, develop and attract new companies and attract more state and federal support for the industry.
  • Lead or support select advanced energy projects that have the potential to create more commercial activity, generate jobs and attract investments to the region.

“The Fund’s grant to NorTech will help our region become a major force in the rapidly evolving advanced energy industry,” said William R. Seelbach of the George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation and co-chair of the Fund committee that recommended the grant. “Our region has tremendous energy-related assets that are generating job growth and attracting investment. We believe this collaborative initiative led by NorTech can help leverage those assets by linking them together, fostering new partnerships and leading innovative projects.”

Richard Stuebi, the Cleveland Foundation’s Fellow for Energy and Environmental Advancement, will be a loaned executive from the foundation and one of the principals of the new initiative. Stuebi has worked on developing an advanced energy agenda for the region since joining the foundation in March 2006.

“Forging a strong advanced energy industry in Cleveland and all of Northeast Ohio has been a key objective of the Cleveland Foundation for the past six years and we are excited to have NorTech assume a leadership role in helping the region achieve that goal,” said Ronn Richard, president and chief executive of the foundation.

“NorTech’s advanced energy initiative aims to be the ‘center of gravity’ for Northeast Ohio’s advanced energy industry by accelerating the development of advanced energy technologies, spurring job growth and generating positive economic impact in the region. We will leverage the region’s many unique assets by forming collaborative partnerships throughout Northeast Ohio to successfully implement this initiative,” said Rebecca O. Bagley, president and CEO of NorTech. NorTech is hosting a series of public sessions this month to introduce the initiative to the region. For the schedule of events, visit www.NorTech.org.

The second grant approved by the Fund is for as much as $500,000 to support the development of the Regional Talent Network, an employer-led effort to strengthen the talent development system across the 16 counties of Northeast Ohio. The network is in the formative stages and the Fund’s grant dollars will be distributed as it achieves milestones, including developing an organizational structure and conducting an assessment of the trends and gaps in the supply and demand for talent in the region.

“How well we prepare our region’s residents for the jobs being created in the knowledge-based economy will determine the economic future of our region,” said Kurt Karakul of the Third Federal Foundation and co-chair of the Fund committee that recommended the grant. “It is vital that our region’s talent development system is responsive to the needs of employers, and that is why the Fund supports the Regional Talent Network.”

Both of the Fund’s grants support the region’s economic action plan, Advance Northeast Ohio, which focuses on:

  • Business growth and attraction
  • Talent development
  • Racial and economic inclusion
  • Government collaboration and efficiency

“The Fund supports regional efforts that result in more jobs for Northeast Ohio. We also need to make sure our region’s residents are prepared for those jobs,” said Fund Chairman David Abbott, who is also executive director of The George Gund Foundation. “These two grants will help our region achieve the goals of job growth, income growth and reduction of poverty.”

 ABOUT THE FUND FOR OUR ECONOMIC FUTURE

The Fund for Our Economic Future is a collaboration of more than 100 foundations, organizations and philanthropists from across Northeast Ohio that strengthens the region’s economic competitiveness through grantmaking, civic engagement and research.

For more information, contact:

Chris ThompsonFund for Our Economic Future216-925-4902 (office)216-215-0329 (cell)cthompson@futurefundneo.org