By Michelle Jarboe, The Plain Dealer
During the last two years, Cleveland has celebrated a series of wins: hosting the Republican National Convention, breaking the sports curse with an NBA title and watching more construction cranes dot the downtown sky amid a revival more than 15,000 residents strong.
But the city and the region also have many lingering problems. A group of civic and business leaders – some established, some emerging, a few publicly but most behind the scenes – has begun to argue that it’s long past time to aggressively address them.
Last year, the Economic Innovation Group, a bipartisan public policy organization based in Washington, D.C., called Cleveland the most distressed large city in the nation. In late April, Business Insider rankedthe metropolitan economy last out of 40 major markets.
Local skeptics question the fairness of those comparisons. But even boosters say that when it comes to economic competitiveness, Northeast Ohio isn’t cutting it.
“On a fundamental level, we are clinging to average, and average is not good enough,” said a recent report from the Fund for Our Economic Future, a regional alliance of foundations, businesses, universities and civic groups.
The authors called for much better collaboration, a sense of shared purpose , and broader definitions of success that bridge racial and socioeconomic divides. Today, they wrote, “Northeast Ohio’s economy is too much icing and not enough cake.”
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