Closing Northeast Ohio’s racial wealth gap is a social, moral and economic endeavor

by | Apr 10, 2023

By RACHEL ABBEY MCCAFFERTY  for Crain’s Cleveland Business Forum

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Regional benefits, too

If Cleveland wants to improve its standing as a city, it needs to close the racial wealth gap. The difference in average income between predominantly Black and predominantly white neighborhoods in the city is stark, noted Michael Obi, president of UBIZ Venture Capital at the Urban League of Greater Cleveland. Both are behind the national average, but white households are not as far behind.

“Common sense tells you, if you are a student of statistics and basic averages, you know that if you can move the Black families to get closer to the average of white families, then our region will come out of that negative connotation of being one of the poorest cities in America,” Obi said.

Racial income gaps are a social, moral and economic concern, said Bethia Burke, president of the Fund for Our Economic Future. Regions with wider gaps on measures like these fare worse.

The Fund for Our Economic Future’s “The Two Tomorrows” report makes racial equity in employment and income a priority for the success of Northeast Ohio’s future, saying “economic polarization and systemic racial exclusion are serious and growing threats to the region’s economic vibrancy.” In the 2018 report, Northeast Ohio comprises 18 counties and four metropolitan areas: Cleveland, Akron, Canton and Youngstown.

This excerpted story is part of the open access Forum series supported by the Joyce Foundation to highlight public policy issues in Northeast Ohio. Read the story here, and explore other content in the Racial Wealth Gap edition of the Forum here.