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Philadelphia Fed Publication Features Q&A with Brad Whitehead

Ohio Funders Promote Collaboration on Economic Development and Opportunity

By Keith L. Rolland, Community Development Advisor

The Fund for Our Economic Future (the Fund), which was formed in 2004 by 28 community and private foundations to address the long-term economic decline in Northeast Ohio, has promoted economic growth and equitable access to opportunity largely by providing multiyear grants to regional economic development intermediaries and initiatives.

The Fund has been bringing together people from the “growth camp” (i.e., economic development agencies and chambers of commerce) and the “opportunity camp” (i.e., private, community, and corporate foundations; health-care systems; colleges and universities; social service providers; and nonprofits). Previously, there was little organized contact between the two “camps,” which are exploring closer alignment in a regional economic competitiveness strategy.

The Fund has 50 member organizations, including private, community, and corporate foundations, higher education institutions, health-care systems, corporations, and individuals. Working in three-year phases, the Fund has raised nearly $100 million to improve regional economic competitiveness by pooling grantmaking, conducting research, and convening events. According to the Fund, its efforts have helped retain and create nearly 15,000 jobs, $550 million in business payrolls, and nearly $3 billion in capital in Northeast Ohio. Since 2010, Fund investments have directly or indirectly leveraged more than $170 million in additional federal, state, and national philanthropic grants to the region.

In a recent interview, Fund President Brad Whitehead shared several insights on regional collaboration based on the Fund’s experience. Read the interview here.