Can NEO be the best region for the world?


I am blessed as I move about the region and meet so many people and so many organizations doing transformational work.  Over the last 8 weeks of my blog-silence, I’ve met and connected with so many people and great work — the women’s network in Akron, the Taskforce for 21st Century Government in Stark County, the Cle+Ytown+Pitt learning network in the Valley, the PMBA in Akronthe Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, the Local Food Network, Northeast Ohio Citizens League — the list goes on and on and on.  I’ll be writing about each of those in the coming days/weeks in this blog.  As I write about the stories of great work taking place among Partners in ANEO, I’ll also be asking the question I have asked before as I strive to keep alive a state of inquiry.  Inquiry into the idea of how we are being organized.  My assertion is this:  the longer we stay in the state of inquiry the better chance we have in realizing Northeast Ohio can be the best region for the world. 

Question for you:  what organizing principles will lead to economic success for all people in Northeast Ohio and can you give me one example? 

(Thank you Chet Bowling for the words that cleared the blogwebs in by brain.)

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# Submitted by Wayne Zeman (not verified) on Thu, 07/03/2008 – 10:04.

NE Ohio is blessed with a number of organizations, each made up of highly-skilled, passionately dedicated individuals who want to transform this region. Individually they’re doing great things and collectively they likely could do even more. Thinking and acting regionally is critical to the economic growth and sustainability of our region. I believe one example of this collective, regional approach is the Northeast Ohio Incubator Collaborative, or NEOinc. NEOinc is made up of the five physical technology-oriented incubators that receive Edison funding in NE Ohio; the Akron Global Business Accelerator, Braintree in Mansfield, GLIDE in Lorain County, MAGNET in Cuyahoga County, and the Youngstown Business Incubator. The collaborative was formed a couple of years ago to tie the incubation programs closer together, to take advantage of the natural “front door” to entrepreneurs seeking assistance, to expand the reach of entrepreneurial support throughout the region, and to function as a key component of the TechLift program—to name just a few of the objectives. NEOinc is up and running well and as just one measure of its success, the economic impact generated by its tenants has been impressive; in the last three fiscal years the tenants of NEOinc have created 681 jobs, generated $230 million in revenue, attracted $79 million in investment capital, and sustained a payroll of $90 million. I think we’ve got a great opportunity to substantially improve the region by linking existing resources closer together, much like we’ve done at NEOinc. Speaking on behalf of the incubators, I know we’d all welcome the opportunity to build even stronger collaborations across the region.

# Submitted by laurasteinbrink on Thu, 07/10/2008 – 21:16.

Hi Wayne, the NEOInc story is compelling – very compelling.  The results are fabulous.  Chris and I like to use the example in a lot of our presentations.  Can you or your colleagues share some lessons that you learned in forming your regional collaborative that may be helpful to others to know?  What role did the State play in compelling your closer ties, if any?

Laura Steinbrink Director, Regional Partnerships [email protected]

# Submitted by Georgia Reash -… on Sun, 07/06/2008 – 10:12.

Georgia Reash

Before we get to the organizing principles, we have to remember that affecting regionalism is something akin to forcing an arranged marriage. We are asking people to come together to share what they have worked so hard to collect and keep to themselves: their ideas, financial resources, contacts, staff, grant monies, office space, utility bills, etc….

We are asking people to “marry” – to come together and give up some aspect of their individuality. Here, the reason to organize is more important than the how.

Given the PSYCHOLOGY shift required for organizing to really work (the sharing of our selves with complete strangers), we might take time to look at those initiatives that have been spearheaded by VISION and higher purpose first.

When groups are brought together from a base of deeper purpose, we TRANSCEND more rapidly to a higher goal. We transcend ego interests, fears of loss of power, personal greed, etc… much more quickly. More importantly, when have to create a vision that is tangbile – relevant to world we live in on a daily level.

Our firm calls this Neighborhood Driven Regionalism with examples inlcuding: Fairview Park School District (The Mosaic Project – Managing Diversity), The City of Lakeood Department of Human Services (Youth Vision initiative), The Drug Court Initiatives, P-16 in Lorain County, KidzHealth in Mt. Pleasant (Health Focus Program), After School Prevention Resources at LMM, etc…. These aren’t just programs – they are a vehicle of focus that has shifted how residents, organizations and neighborhoods function.

In these grass roots efforts, organizing is organic and purposeful. Collecting these examples is essential; they hold the clues and answers to all the questions AND the formulas for success in each sector of society.

Something to learn from? In countries where arranged marriages take place, two people are brought together for a higher purpose: financial security for future children, the proliferation of healthy family lines, and spiritual evolution.

Regardless of what one might think, higher purpose plays an essential role in all unions.

I wonder……

# Submitted by laurasteinbrink on Thu, 07/10/2008 – 21:07.

Thanks for the post, Georgia.  You raise some critical and interesting questions that will be important to ponder.  The assertion you raise about people being forced to give up something through regional action causes me to pause.  Just yesterday I was proclaiming there isn’t an inherent loss in regionalism, I believe that’s a perceived fear.  I would concur that if forced into new partnerships rather than self-selecting, it might seem like a loss or an arranged marriage, so in that way I agree about the need for a compelling vision – and compelling facts.  The compelling facts for me is that economic data says that we are already one economy, so our perceived individual economies are actually just that – perceptions.  What is the vision that compels?

Laura Steinbrink Director, Regional Partnerships [email protected]

# Submitted by Chet Bowling (not verified) on Tue, 08/05/2008 – 15:03.

I couldn’t agree more Georgia. A compelling vision/higher purpose draws us beyond our egos and into relationships that add value and richness to our lives. Your post makes me wonder about experiences we have already had in NEO when we have transcended our narrow self interests and acted collectively for the common good. Would you say that the Cleveland Orchestra, the Cleveland Museum of Art, or any of the other arts organizations in NEO are examples of acting collectively for the common good? My hunch is that people who fund the arts have a vision of a Northeast Ohio filled with creativity and beauty.

And your post also makes me wonder: If NEO became the region we are hoping, longing, and working for what would it be like? What would each of us we be doing? Who would we be working with? How would NEO be the same only better? What would be different?

My vision is a region that has the highest educational attainment of any region in the US. Creativity, innovation, collaboration and inclusion are the hallmarks of our life as a community. Justice and generosity are our most deeply held values. We thrive and prosper physically, mentally, emotionally, and economically.

Laura and ANEO are one of what should be an infinite number of ways we get to our vision. I see ANEO as a very sophisticated organizational dating service. Laura introduces people who she thinks might have common interests and then steps back to let nature take its course. Hopefully some great relationships happen and another step is taken on the journey toward our vision.

What is your vision for NEO?

Author: advance759