More Reasons for Hope


The reasons for Hope for Northeast Ohio keep streaming in. These ideas from you — the residents of the region — should inspire us all to build a brighter future for everyone.

You can read the full compilation by following the links available here.

And below are a few more e-mails that I’ve received recently:

Three recent local stories indicate some very positive implications for Northeast Ohio.
1. Major focused development in East Akron to build new headquarters for Goodyear, re-develop a large area, and re-use existing corporate structures. The investment should have major positive impact on Northeast Ohio. It has helped to focus local and state government involvement.
2. Akron schools just completed the first phases of a new educational program to provide an additional aid to school children to make better choices in dealing with problems and avoiding gang activity.
3. Within the last week there have been reports of a new ‘high-tech’ additive the Akron is adding to the salt-brine for snow/ice control – beet juice. It’s reported to improve melting action at low temperatures and reduce salt damage to streets and cars. Also, it is non-staining, not beet red. Seems to be a great idea, something new, simple, and effective.

I offer three suggestions, although they are not unique of novel:

– Cleveland solidifies a reputation (building on its past in this area) as a center for innovation for the future – in medicine, fresh water studies, alternative energy and others.  Creativity does not cost a dime!  We need to market ourselves as such so others think of us in this way and it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy.

– Similar to the above, I believe that we have the ability to truly become, in perception and reality, a world medical center.

– Perhaps most importantly, my hope is that Cleveland becomes a region that believes in itself.  This could be our biggest impediment to future growth.

More latent talent/capacity to make a difference than most urban environments. Due to the low cost of living, more people are able to work flexibly, retire, stay at home to raise kids….than in other big cities.  So, we have some very talented people who could mobilize with the right leadership and call to action.  Picture, “Moms against poverty”, “Jews/Christians/Muslims against poverty”, “Retirees for Entrepreneurs”, “Grandmothers for Mothers and Children”.  Also, we have a culture of getting truly involved in community issues.  There is (due to a hungry gap, but still) a great embrace for people who are willing to take on leadership, regardless of sex, race, age.

Truly distinctive assets in early childhood development.  Our society as a whole has vastly underinvested versus the potential for brain growth in years 0-5, as have we, but we have some remarkable institutions that have treated parents as partners for 50 years.  Hanna Perkins Center for Child Development and the Center for Families and Children, to name two.  I was blown away by Geoffrey Canada of Harlem Children’s Zone (did you see him?  I hope so), but I also could see where we have some distinctive and practical knowledge that could help him in this area.

Truly distinctive technologies and unique models for driving commercialization, particularly in the Third Frontier funded centers in Northeast Ohio.  I’ll attach the 5 things to know about each area doc we put together a couple of years ago (before the legislator breakfast that helped pass Issue 1).

Actually, I do think the above reasons are high priority reasons for hope….which may be hidden.

 My other one would be:

 A collaborative culture.  Yeah, I know, we’ve struggled.  But still, I feel things have progressed well in economic development over the last 5 years….more to do of course…….but now the challenge is to bridge all of that good work to help the vast population of people in poverty.   Those connections are beginning to take hold. 

1. Take a look at the recent listing of the largest employers in the region.  Cleveland Clinic was number one.  A previous number one employer was General Motors.  GM had far less than the 30,000 employees that the Clinic reports.  Think about this: the vast majority of clinic employees use their brains, not their brawn in their daily work.  I’ll bet that the per capita annual income at the Clinic is much higher than GM. Our current employment situation offers a higher quality of life than you could have ever expected from a steel mill or auto manufacturing environment.

2. We have a very strong core of twenty and thirty year olds who recognize the amazing value of living here.  They are ager to build businesses, make things happen and lead.

3. The Cleveland “Robber Barons” of the late 19th and early 20th centuries left us a magnificent cultural and civic environment that we can access at a fraction of the cost that you’d pay in Chicago, New York, LA, Atlanta, etc.  And one more thing, because our commutes are so much shorter, we have a significant leg up on the Green Revolution where automotive pollution is concerned.

The link below discusses a movement to make Northeast Ohio the world leader in the commercialization of flexible LCDs. The Akron area is a hotspot for the polymer industry. With research facilities such as the University of Akron Polymer Science/Engineering and the Kent State Liquid Crystal Institute, Akron is a prime location for companies in the polymer industry who can benefit from the use of such facilities. As the Research and Commercialization Program matures, existing businesses in the area will flourish, and additional business will be attracted.

I have limited time so I will site one great example: The development of the Canalway from Lake Erie to New Philadelphia…more than 70 of the 101 miles of the towpath trail have opened since the region was designated as a Heritage Area; the Scenic Railroad has been extended to Canton; the first of 4 “Gateway” visitor centers has been opened in Stark County; the $10,000,000 investment of federal funds has resulted in over $400,000,000 being invested by local government and private industry/businesses throughout the Canalway and usage has grown exponentially. This resource is a big benefit to quality of life in NE Ohio and accordingly the impact economically is growing daily.

Bob Fonte

Director, Stark County Park District

Many of us who are fortunate enough to have lived here as well elsewhere are hopeful, although we sometimes feel like the minority. I agree with the comment about the general lack of hope in some circles. Also, I think many Clevelanders are phobic about change, rather than embracing it and taking advantage of it, mainly because of misplaced loyalties.

1.) Population density: Many people reside in, and visit, NE Ohio, and they all need services and products.
2.) Because of a reasonably non-politicized Ohio Insurance Department, our insurance costs (I am an insurance agent) compare favorably with any other region in the country. This is good for families, businesses, and people wanting to relocate here. Absence of hurricanes, mudslides, brush fires, and other natural disasters also contributes to predictable, stable insurance rates in NE Ohio.
3.) The Cleveland Art Museum, the Symphony, and University Circle are big-city amenities that draw people to the region. Same for Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals.
4.) A Governor and Lt. Governor who are competent, creative, and who seem to actually have the interests of all Ohioans at heart. This is a welcome change.

Author: advance759