Our Fund has always been committed to the wellbeing of all people of Northeast Ohio as we worked toward regional economic transformation. In 2014, we reinforced this commitment by introducing Growth & Opportunity as a frame to guide our Fund’s work and to increase shared understanding and collective action throughout the community. Growth & Opportunity stems from our “What Matters to Metros” economic research released in 2013, which indicated that job growth alone would not lead to economic prosperity and that economic polarization threatened our nascent recovery.
At its core, Growth & Opportunity calls for civic leaders in traditional “growth” organizations (e.g., economic developers, chambers of commerce) to build equitable access to opportunity into their strategies, and for traditional “opportunity” organizations (e.g., social service/workforce intermediaries, community development corporations) to link more fully to regional economic growth strategies. The approach specifically calls for our Fund and our community to better align strategies to advance job creation, job preparation and job access. These strategies cannot be pursued in isolation; they must be interconnected and collaborative, and work across sectors. The Growth & Opportunity framework also calls for our region to pay particular attention to connecting economically distressed areas—which are found in both urban and rural communities—to the regional economy. For more on this work, see Connecting Local Assets to the Regional Economy.
In 2016-2018, our Fund will (1) promote shared civic understanding of Growth & Opportunity principles and their adoption into the strategies of key stakeholders; (2) advance a regional economic competitiveness strategy that results in Growth & Opportunity; and (3) shape and support Growth & Opportunity initiatives that lead to improved job creation, job preparation and job access.