EAST CLEVELAND--March 9, 2016--The members of the Fund for Our Economic Future (the Fund), a philanthropic collaboration, have approved $3 million of funding to advance business development and job creation in Northeast Ohio, with the end goal of growing the regional economy so that all people -- not just some -- benefit. The awards set in motion the Fund's strategy for the next three years of its work, which was approved by members and adopted in December 2015.
Notably, for the first time in the Fund's 12-year history, members approved both grants and non-grant instruments. These alternative funding arrangements are designed to stretch the Fund's resources and ensure beneficiaries of philanthropically funded services ultimately contribute to supporting regional economic competitiveness work.
The recipients of funding included:
- Team NEO, with a one-year award of up to $650,000 to support the advancement of a shared, regional economic competitiveness strategy, business development and economic research. The Fund is a co-creator of Team NEO, along with the organized business community and JobsOhio.
- BioEnterprise, with a two-year award of up to $800,000 to support its efforts to grow the bioscience cluster;
- MAGNET, with a two-year award of up to $900,000 for its PRISM Initiative to help mid-size manufacturers with high-growth potential innovate and prosper; and
- JumpStart, with a two-year award of up to $500,000 for its Scaleup Initiative to support high-growth potential companies; and a one-year award of up to $150,000 to support its Startup Network.
The Fund also announced the outcomes from its support to job creation grantee partners over the last three years. In 2013-2015, these partners helped generate more than 6,100 additional jobs, add $361 million in payroll, and attract $1.76 billion in capital. The jobs added over this three-year period continue to be high-paying jobs, with an average annual salary of about $59,000, compared to a regional average of just over $47,000. Since the Fund's founding in 2004, our efforts have helped retain or create a total of more than 18,500 jobs, add nearly $760 million in payroll and attract just over $4 billion in capital to the region.
While the resource allocation decisions made on March 8, focus primarily on job creation, Fund members will continue to work throughout the year on issues related to job preparation and job access. It's this three-tiered approach -- which the Fund calls Growth & Opportunity -- that will advance an inclusive economy where all people benefit. This approach is apt now more than ever in light of recent reports, such as the one from the Economic Innovation Groupshowing Cleveland as the most economically distressed among large cities in the U.S.
"Economists around the globe have observed the negative correlation between economic disparity and sustained economic growth and the Fund for Our Economic Future has confirmed this in our own "What Matters to Metros" research," said Chair Brian Frederick, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Lorain County. "Healthy economies are ones that provide access to opportunity for all of their citizens."
The latest round of grants and grant alternatives were approved at a quarterly board meeting on Tuesday, hosted by Fund member The McGregor Foundation in East Cleveland. Members also elected three new initiative leaders: Deborah Vesy, president and CEO of Deaconess Foundation, as Job Preparation Initiative Leader; Robert Jaquay, associate director of The George Gund Foundation, as Job Access Initiative Leader; and Jennifer Roller, president of The Raymond John Wean Foundation, as Regional Engagement Initiative Leader. William H. Gary, Sr., executive vice president, Workforce, Community and Economic Development Division, Cuyahoga Community College, was elected as an at-large member of the Executive Committee.
Following the resource allocation decisions, Fund members heard from Robert Weissbourd of Chicago-based RW Ventures on the topic of Neighborhood Business Planning, one tool for supporting inclusive economic growth that calls for improving connections between neighborhoods and the regional economy. And following the meeting, several members had a chance to enjoy lunch with East Cleveland Mayor Gary Norton, Jr., who provided vivid context and instruction for those grappling with the realities of inequality and economic distress in their own communities.
Click here for more on Growth & Opportunity and to access the research that underpins this framework.