Cleveland lays groundwork for shovel-ready sites along Opportunity Corridor

by | Feb 9, 2023

Crain's Cleveland Business

Cleveland hopes to devote $8 million to site assembly and cleanup along the Opportunity Corridor, in a project that is already likely to be a template for creating shovel-ready sites.

Half of that money would come from the city, which is drawing on $3.5 million in federal pandemic-relief funds to cover most of its costs. The rest would flow from JobsOhio, the state’s private nonprofit economic development corporation, in the form of matching grants.

Officials are making use of a JobsOhio program that offers low-cost loans and grants for speculative site preparations and building projects. The idea is to fill gaps in the market and put Cleveland in a better position to pursue growing companies that need to move fast.

The city’s first target is the New Economy Neighborhood in Fairfax, at the northern end of the Opportunity Corridor. The city and nonprofit partner Fairfax Renaissance Development Corp. control a substantial amount of land in that district, southeast of the Cleveland Clinic’s main campus. JobsOhio already has committed $2 million to that project.

“We’re looking to get to approximately 15 to 20 acres there,” said Bryce Sylvester, senior director of site strategies for Team NEO, a regional economic development organization.

Bethia Burke, president of the Fund for Our Economic Future, said she’s encouraged by the city’s heightened focus on sites and increased collaboration among public officials, Team NEO, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, nonprofit community development corporations and other groups. According to Burke, site assembly and preparation is one of the most critical things Northeast Ohio can do to advance economic development.

“If we want jobs to come to Cleveland, they need a place to land,” she said. “This is a point when it feels like we are making real traction, the city is making real traction, around what had long been the promise of bringing jobs to the corridor.”

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*Photo credits: Michelle Jarboe/Crain’s Cleveland Business