2023 in Review

by | Dec 19, 2023

It’s that time of year: Back to December. Here at the Fund for Our Economic Future our End Game is the Everyone Economy. And while for some, 2023 was the Year of Taylor Swift, here at the Fund for Our Economic Future, 2023 was the year our work to drive more growth in job hubs got practical.

Growing job hubs is among the most important work we have undertaken as a Fund in our relentless pursuit of equitable growth. Why? Because as we know All Too Well (I promise to stop…), the decline in “proximate jobs” across Northeast Ohio over the past several decades limits opportunity for all workers, especially residents living in high-poverty areas who are less likely to own or have access to a car.

Along with partners, in years past we have elevated the issue and offered a framework for action. This past year, our focus was (1) changing how site selection decisions are made and (2) improving sites available in job hubs. We’re proud of meaningful progress on both fronts.

  • Our recently release national Where Matters tool makes it possible to go beyond the immediate-term site considerations currently considered in site decision making to include long-term factors, including labor pool demographics, commute costs, emissions and transit access across more than 380 U.S. metro areas. Every corporate leader, site selector and government actor charged with making forever site decisions can now make more informed choices that work better for everyone.
  • We also supported Team NEO’s Developing Opportunities, “a comprehensive resource for proactive site readiness” that provides local leaders with the toolkit needed to develop competitive industrial sites, meet demand, and grow job hubs.

Beyond our direct work, the idea that “Where Matters” for people and business has taken root, and funding to redevelop industrial areas is becoming available. The clearest example is the creation of the Site Readiness for Good Jobs Fund by the City of Cleveland with a $50 million seed investment.

Internally, 2023 was a year our staff retooled and refreshed. We launched a new brand and welcomed Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives Joan Chase, Director of Development and Engagement Angelica Dandridge, and Senior Director of Applied Research Jeff Sleasman onto the team. I’m thrilled to say I’m no longer asking myself “Where are the Workers?” (though we are still actively advancing workforce efforts for those who are) and are looking forward to going into 2024 fully staffed.

Speaking of 2024, the opportunities offered by the transition to a greener economy are real. Next year, keep a look out for a new in-depth guide that explores the implications of this transition and how Northeast Ohio can be Ready for It.

In all we have accomplished together, and for the work yet to come, I feel an urgent optimism. I am proud that the change we inspire here is ultimately real, meaningful and lasting. For example, the Paradox Prize, a recent initiative of the Fund for Our Economic Future, moved 1300 people during the funded service delivery period. Following this, leaders in Lake County were able to pass a levy to provide local rides permanent free rides to work, MetroHealth changed the transportation benefits offered to all system employees, and Wayne County, where public transportation wasn’t previously available, now offers curb to curb service anywhere for $2.50 a ride.

Best wishes for a joyful holiday season!

(My Wildest Dream for my time off is to find two hours where I can wrestle the remote away from my boys and watch Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour movie. Wish me luck.)