CLEVELAND--Dec. 11, 2014--The members of philanthropic collaboration Fund for Our Economic Future (the Fund) have approved an up-to $250,000 one-year grant to support Team NEO, the new organization guiding the Regional Economic Competitiveness Strategy (RECS), a collaborative effort between the business, philanthropic and public sectors in Northeast Ohio. The grant action reinforces the Fund's commitment to the revamped regional growth strategy announced last month and the transformation of the Northeast Ohio economy so that it benefits all, not just some. The Fund called on others to join it in advancing this goal in "Growth & Opportunity: A Call to Action," released Tuesday at an event in Akron marking 10 years of the Fund's work.
With a decade of collaboration under its belt, the Fund has learned that a growing, opportunity-rich economy cannot be achieved through job creation alone. Research, including the Fund's "What Matters to Metros," shows that real economic growth in the U.S. is systematically stronger and more sustainable in places where more people share in the opportunities being created. Growth & Opportunity is the Fund's approach to growing our region's economy through strategies that create good jobs, prepare our workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow, and promote better access to those jobs. This three-tiered approach to opportunity-rich economic growth was first introduced by the Fund in May 2014.
The purpose of the Call to Action is to situate Northeast Ohio against the national backdrop of rising inequality and stagnant mobility, and encourage others to adopt strategies that advance both economic growth and equitable access to opportunity through efforts that simultaneously address job creation, job preparation and job access. The report features:
- an assessment of the Northeast Ohio economy by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's Mark Schweitzer, senior vice president, director of research, and Kyle Fee, senior policy analyst; and
- insightful essays on job creation, job preparation and job access from April Miller Boise, vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Veyance Technologies Inc., Jill Rizika, executive director of Towards Employment, and Jason Segedy, director of Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study (AMATS), respectively.
"Through this Call to Action and all of our Fund's efforts, we hope to build with others shared understanding that economic growth is more sustainable when all people can benefit from that growth; a common agenda to advance job creation, job preparation and job access; and aligned actions that achieve measurable and meaningful outcomes that are consistently tracked and reported so that we can adapt our efforts to advance growth and opportunity," said Deborah D. Hoover, president and CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation and chair of the Fund.
Amy Liu, senior fellow and co-director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., called the report "a sound playbook for building inclusive prosperity." Liu joined Brad Whitehead, president of the Fund, and Christine Amer Mayer, president of the GAR Foundation and vice chair of the Fund, on a panel Tuesday at a special event looking at the Fund's decade of work. Organized by the City Club of Cleveland and the Akron Press Club, the event, held at Quaker Station in Akron, drew 200 regional leaders. A copy of the Fund's Call to Action can be accessed here.
The grant award to the new Team NEO, approved December 4 at the Fund's last Funders Committee meeting of the year, is just one way the Fund is supporting the advancement of economic growth and opportunity. The new organization brings together the services and expertise of Team NEO, a business attraction and growth organization, and NorTech, a technology-based economic development nonprofit, to drive a regional economic competitiveness strategy and ensure growth is accompanied by opportunities for all segments of the population. Team NEO will work closely with local chambers of commerce and economic development organizations to support and enhance their business retention and expansion efforts. It also will align work around other economic competitiveness priorities, including developing high-growth industry clusters, addressing workforce issues and accelerating innovation.
"Economic competitiveness is a team sport," said William R. Seelbach, a senior advisor to The Riverside Company, trustee of The George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation and vice chair of the Fund. "After a decade of our Fund and philanthropy pursuing a more aligned strategy with the Northeast Ohio business community, we are pleased to see this partnership take flight. Our support of Team NEO signifies our commitment to achieving opportunity-rich economic growth with our partners."