Hot off the press this week is our Fund's 2016 annual report -- a celebration of our Fund as a "learning laboratory" where philanthropy comes together to advance and share research on what matters to our economy; test new initiatives to improve job creation, job preparation and job access; learn from one another what works in other parts of the region and put those lessons into action; and work with local communities to strengthen assets and build capacities on the ground in ways that connect to the regional economy.
The concept for the report (expertly executed by our design partner Roux Creative) stemmed from a discussion with Fund members last December. Collectively, we acknowledged how, in the early days, our Fund was focused on developing our regional economic identity and ingraining "Northeast Ohio" into our lexicon and how we work. And we've been wildly successful in this regard (check out page 4 of the report for more on this).
Yet, while there is general agreement today that our economy is regional, it is also true that most civic structures are community-based, and residents and leaders identify with their local communities.
In a recent blog post, our friend Pete Carlson of consulting firm Regional Growth Strategies addressed this dichotomy: "... there appears to be a limit to what even the best regional organizations can accomplish in the absence of strong and effective partners at the local level. ... interplay between the regional and local levels can create a virtuous cycle, which is what drives an effective regional economic development system."
This is one of our learnings as a philanthropic collaborative. Today, we're engaging with local communities to understand how we can bring Growth & Opportunity (our framework for opportunity-rich, sustainable economic growth) to the local level, while we continue to think, plan and act regionally.
The stories in our 2016 annual report showcase in many ways what it means to build local-regional connections, and exemplify our Fund at its best as a learning laboratory.
If interested in learning more about how our Fund might be able to help build capacity in your community, contact Director of Regional Engagement Kevin Alin.