Our work is focused on growing the economy in ways that also expand opportunities for all people, through the promotion and support of interconnected, collaborative, cross-sector strategies that (1) create good jobs with family-sustaining wages; (2) prepare our workforce for the jobs of today and tomorrow; and (3) improve connections between people and jobs. This threefold job creation, job preparation and job access framework drives all that we do.
Well, our Fund has always been committed to the wellbeing of all people of Northeast Ohio as we worked to improve regional economic competitiveness. But when our Fund first began in 2004, the priority for our region was jobs, jobs, jobs. In 2013, our What Matters to Metros economic research indicated that job growth alone would not lead to economic prosperity and that economic polarization threatened our nascent recovery. And indeed, a growing body of national research backs up the need for a more inclusive economy, if our growth is to be vibrant and sustainable.
At its core, our Fund's Growth & Opportunity approach 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. Our Fund sits at the intersection of these two camps, promoting development of shared goals and partnering with others from across the public, private and nonprofit sectors, who may not have historically worked together, to better align strategies that specifically advance job creation, job preparation and job access. 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.)
To learn more about our overall strategy and the components of it, contact Vice President Bethia Burke.