As we look to a sustainable regional future, the Cleveland region and Cleveland’s African American community face significant challenges. Historically devastating exclusionary and discriminatory policies, combined with current regional dynamics of urban disinvestment and inefficient, fragmented suburban growth have created vast disparities for many of Cleveland’s residents. These metropolitan dynamics have pulled people, resources and opportunities out of the City of Cleveland, leaving many families with inadequate resources and limited opportunities. The dominant economic trends of the 21st century, globalization and deindustrialization, have created widespread economic challenges for the nation as well as the Northeast Ohio region. Uncoordinated suburban growth in the region is not only pulling resources away from the City of Cleveland, but creating challenges for the region’s mature inner-suburban communities, indicating the spread of social and economic instability and negatively impacting the region’s ability to attract and retain critical emerging companies and workers.
These challenges impacting the City of Cleveland, the region and the African American community are all interrelated. Racially disparate life outcomes have contributed to the destabilization of the City of Cleveland’s economic and social health and imperiled the competitiveness of the entire region. Disparities in educational attainment disadvantage the region’s competitive abilities in the new global skill-based economy, where educated labor is one of the primary indicators of an economically healthy region. Unjust policies and racial and economic isolation deplete opportunities for people in the City of Cleveland, pushing more affluent residents to the suburbs and exurbs. The dynamics of municipal competition and uncoordinated policy produce an economically dysfunctional region, which is less competitive, while reinforcing long-standing regional and racial disparities. The compounded impact of all of these factors has produced a stressed region, with declining and segregated opportunities for all residents.