GOPC Manager of Research and Policy Torey Hollingsworth joined a record number of community development practitioners and advocates from around the state at the Ohio CDC Association’s 33rd Annual Conference in Toledo. Held at the newly renovated downtown Renaissance Hotel, the conference highlighted Toledo’s recent revitalization while exploring ongoing challenges facing the city and the community development field at large.
Sessions focused on navigating the changing federal policy landscape, ensuring that residents are engaged in community revitalization efforts, cultivating local food systems, and more. Dr. Manuel Pastor, a sociologist from the University of Southern California, served as the keynote speaker and highlighted how shifting demographics and increasing economic inequality are playing out nationally, in Ohio, and within Toledo. Dr. Pastor argued that inclusive practices are good for economic growth, and for states like Ohio where population growth in relatively flat, long-term growth will require incorporating people who are difficult to employ, like ex-offenders, into the workforce.
The conference also provided multiple opportunities for attendees to see recent community development and urban revitalization work in Toledo first hand. The tour of downtown Toledo began with a visit to ProMedica’s new headquarters in a refurbished steam plant. Advocates for downtown Toledo hope this will be a catalytic investment: in addition to the adaptive reuse of this riverfront historic site, the new facility and other investments represent 900 new employees working downtown.
The tour continued on to Middlegrounds MetroPark, a formerly contaminated riverfront site that has been converted into a public park with great views of Toledo’s skyline. From there, the tour went to Uptown, the neighborhood directly to the northwest of downtown and home to a number of important social service and health anchors for the community. The day concluded with a reception in the historic Secor Building, featuring a display of sculpture from Glass City artists.
This year, as usual, the Ohio CDC Association Conference was a great opportunity for GOPC to connect and learn from community development practitioners and advocates around the state.