It will take more collaborative cross-sector efforts to advance both economic growth and equitable access to opportunity (i.e., Growth & Opportunity) through job creation, job preparation and job access strategies. To be effective, these strategies must not only be integrated, they must also better connect local communities to regional economies.
So what does this look like in practice? We recently brought together the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and three tireless advocates for Growth & Opportunity in Northeast Ohio, where the Fund for Our Economic Future calls home, to provide a snapshot of our economy and examples of successful job creation, job preparation and job access strategies at work. The result is “Growth & Opportunity: A Call to Action,” which we hope emboldens others to join us in our quest for transformative opportunity-rich economic growth.
We are already heartened by our business partners in our regional economic strategy (called Team NEO) agreeing that, in addition to job, income and output growth, a fourth top-line goal will be increasing labor force participation rates in economically distressed neighborhoods. They recognize with us that while every job is good, some jobs are better than others if we are to transform the economy. The task now is to make sure this goal gets translated into how our community sets infrastructure priorities, apportions business expansion incentives, and connects workforce strategies to emerging industries through apprenticeships, skills-based hiring programs, and industry-led development of career ladders.
Though the economic analysis and examples of Growth & Opportunity efforts in the Call to Action are Northeast Ohio-focused, the lessons are quite replicable. Certainly, the latest economic recovery has strengthened the case for a commitment to strategies that result in both more economic growth and more access to opportunity. Rising inequality and stagnant mobility are key issues that affect much of the country, not just Northeast Ohio.
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