The City of Cleveland Department of Economic Development will be well represented at the Inner City Economic Summit 2012 in Boston, MA.
From the ICIC website:
“Cities across the country are creating innovative models and collaborative partnerships to lay the groundwork for sustainable economic development. During the 2012 Inner City Economic Summit, city, civic and business leaders will gather to share practices that are proving durable in this fiscal climate.”
Department Director Tracey Nichols will be presenting a case study highlighting the innovative Greater University Circle Community Wealth Building Initiative.
Cleveland’s University Circle neighborhood is home to several of the city’s most prominent institutions, including the Cleveland Clinic, Case Western Reserve University, and University Hospitals– yet the surrounding neighborhoods are some of the poorest in the city. The GUCI attempts to rebuild these neighborhoods and improve the quality of life for residents through the creation of new jobs and businesses that benefit low income residents.
New Bridge, a vocational training center for youth and adults, trains Clevelanders to work in high demand fields identified by the anchor insitutions; in its first year, over 400 applications were received. Evergreen Cooperatives, a collection of employee-owned businesses that employ hard-to-hire residents, partners with the anchors to identify new business opportunities for the Cooperatives; so far the City of Cleveland, area foundations and anchors have provided the Cooperatives with over $17 million in funding and they now employ 80 low-income residents.
With strategic partnerships, the GUCI seeks to make system-wide changes through local procurement, the expansion of workforce options and innovations in sustainability.
Kevin Schmotzer, Executive, Small Business Development, will be presenting on the Urban Agriculture Innovation Zone in Cleveland.
Cleveland’s Ward 5 neighborhood was long plagues by high rates of poverty, crime, vacant land and food deserts. As part of a 2006 neighborhood master plan, a 26-acre “Urban AG Zone” was created and specifically zoned for local farming and agriculture. Farmers who have completed the Ohio State Extension market garden training program can apply to farm a 1/4 acre plot. Training, technical assistance, marketing and business planning are also provided to program participants.
The Urban AG Zone provides income generating jobs and entreprenuerial opportunities for new linkages to a variety to a variety of agricultural production cycles. For instance, Rid-All Green Partnership, a growing minority-owned business made up of three local residents, is growing vegetables and raising tilapia on 1.5 acres in the Urban AG Zone.
Over 200 residents have been trained by the OSU extension program; 11 farmers currently work in the Urban AG Zone and a new Greenhouse Training Center will create 30 jobs upon completion.
Department of Economic Development Staff will be live-tweeting from the ICIC Conference. Follow us: @CLE_EconDev.