Report: Northeastern Ohio Must Address ‘Economic Polarization’

CLEVELAND – A report issued by The Fund For Our Economic Future finds that while northeastern Ohio has made great strides in remaking its economy, there are many obstacles that prevent the region from becoming more competitive and inclusive.

“Northeast Ohio has had its share of high-profile achievements that should be celebrated,” said Brad Whitehead, president of the Fund. “At the same time, this progress should not be mistaken for the overall state of the region’s economy. Northeast Ohio faces real economic challenges.”

The report, “The Two Tomorrows,” presents a sobering assessment of the region’s economy, identifying that the region needs to take innovation and investment to the next level. Furthermore, the region must take steps to correct serious threats to its long-term vibrancy, especially addressing problems such as economic polarization, racial exclusion and concentrations of poverty.

“Other regions are out-investing and out-innovating us,” Whitehead said. “We are leaving people behind and further widening racial and economic divides. We need to take thoughtful action to change this reality.”

The report envisions two futures for northeastern Ohio: one in which the region continues to be undermined by racial disparity and another in which it excels through equal access to opportunity and elimination of concentrated poverty.

Among the first initiatives the region can take is to adhere to 10 strategies that pertain to job creation, job preparation and job access with deliberate attention to race-based inequities. The report calls for strong local strategies in communities across the region, shared regional priorities for statewide and national advocacy, a focus on systemic solutions, and a collaborative mindset.

Success in these areas would be measured through a “scorecard” that tracks growth in the traded sector, growth in young firms, rising prosperity, full employment, racial employment equity, racial income equity and geographical equity. Individual scorecards break out these same measures for communities such as Youngstown, Akron, Canton and Cleveland.

“In order to address our economic stagnation and inequality in a comprehensive and cooperative way, we must first ask ourselves are we prepared to transform our economy from exclusive to inclusive, from average to extraordinary?” said Mark Samolczyk, president and CEO of Stark Community Foundation and chairman of the fund.

To download a copy of the Two Tomorrows report, CLICK HERE.


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