In the final installment of a two-part series detailing Northeast Ohio’s transportation paradox and the collective effort of the Paradox Prize to solve it published by Intelligent Transport, the Fund’s Urban and Regional Planner for Mobility Solutions Dominic Mathew details the transport connectivity projects and pilots that are being launched as a result of the prize’s funding.
No car, no job. No job, no car. This transportation paradox has had a crippling impact on the economic opportunities of Northeast Ohio’s carless residents. The Fund for Our Economic Future, a consortium of philanthropic, civic and business entities aligned toward equitable growth and opportunity for an 18-county region, launched The Paradox Prize in June 2019 to unearth innovative, collaborative solutions to this paradox.
In a collective effort to close the economic divide by race and place, the Fund partnered with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, Greater Cleveland Partnership, The Lozick Family Foundation, Cuyahoga County, The Cleveland Foundation, and DriveOhio to pool $1 million to support up to 10 transportation innovation pilots over three years.
The public competition sought big ideas to help residents stranded economically by their geography access well-paying jobs, and improve the ability for area businesses to fill thousands of open jobs across the region.
In part one of this article series, I detailed the no-growth sprawl that has characterized the region and many similar U.S. Midwest metros over the past several decades. Jobs are farther away from where people live, leaving much of the region’s workforce – particularly within communities of color – with a seemingly insurmountable transportation paradox.
We received 141 Paradox Prize applications from 12 counties that included testing technology solutions to access mobility, creating new workforce and transportation agency partnerships, and aggregating resources in the community to meet demand. The regional Advisory and Selection Committee comprising Northeast Ohio leaders in transportation, workforce development, philanthropy and business selected eight winners and has awarded $666,000 in prize money so far. Awards ranged from $20,000 to $100,000, depending on the needs, scale and potential impact of each project.
Three broad themes have emerged around the initiatives that have been awarded support:
- Transportation as a central element of workforce sector partnerships
- Rethinking the economics of transportation at the workplace
- Rural matter – transportation isn’t just an urban phenomenon.