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GREATER OHIO POLICY AND LEGISLATIVE E-UPDATE

April 2009

Based on our Restoring Prosperity Initiative state reform agenda we rolled out last fall to build “competitive communities” in Ohio, we’re advancing legislation and policy around each of the Initiative drivers of prosperity: innovation, infrastructure, quality of place and workforce, as well as promoting opportunities for regional collaboration. In this E-Update we would like to share with you some of our Initiative legislative and policy development efforts, activities and upcoming events. As always, we welcome your feedback and thoughts on the Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative.

INNOVATION

Community Development Action Teams: Funding for Impact Projects

A new tool made available in the Executive Budget is Community Development Action Teams, or CDATs, which will stimulate economic and community development projects specifically for medium-sized Ohio communities tailored to their specific strengths and needs. The primary goal of these cross-departmental teams is to serve as a resource to guide communities’ selected catalytic projects and to encourage private investment that eventually becomes self-perpetuating.

The CDATs are modeled on Pennsylvania’s highly successful Community Action Teams (CATs), which foster priority “impact” projects within a community. The teams assist with all stages of a project and act as single point of contact, enhancing communication between agencies and departments so that attention and resources are focused on the most deserving projects.

Greater Ohio introduced the CDAT concept as part of the Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative. It is expected that Ohio’s CDATs could draw primarily on existing funding sources and could be implemented administratively. They offer an effective solution for positive change in these tough economic times.

INFRASTRUCTURE

ODOT to Move Forward along “Fix-it-First” Path

The requirement of ODOT to perform an analysis of the cost to maintain state routes that pass through cities is a first step in “fix-it-first” and a move toward real “fix-it-first” strategies. Greater Ohio advanced this concept with legislators and was the primary force behind its development and adoption. Greater Ohio’s Board Chair, David Beach, stated, “ At a time of tight budgets, it makes sense to focus on the maintenance of existing infrastructure. Ohio needs to build on its assets.”

As part of the recently passed transportation budget, ODOT will compile and produce a report on the financial and policy implications of the State assuming primary responsibility for all state routes throughout Ohio regardless of local government jurisdiction.

Current state policies specify maintenance of state routes that run through incorporated areas are the responsibility of the cities. For example, there are 5 state routes that pass through Lima, but it is Lima’s responsibility to maintain all of these heavily traveled routes within their city limits. If Ohio is serious about “fix-it-first” and about “leveling the playing field” between cities and unincorporated areas, then the state should pay for maintenance of state routes passing through cities. Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams emphasized this point at Greater Ohio’s fall Restoring Prosperity Summit, stating, “Not only is [the current state policy] a problem and it doesn’t make sense economically, or from an infrastructure standpoint, [the policy] also reinforces a negative perception of our core cities.”

The analysis is due from ODOT by December 15, 2009. Contact your ODOT regional office and ask that you be kept apprised as they move forward.

QUALITY OF PLACE

Greater Ohio Releases Action Items to Address Ohio’s Foreclosure Crisis

Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution identified a series of action items designed to address Ohio’s growing foreclosure crisis. Contained in a draft paper authored by national housing expert Alan Mallach, entitled “Addressing Ohio’s Foreclosure Crisis: Taking the next steps,” the action items outline 26 specific recommendations for state level policy changes. The paper is available on our website in draft form. Read the full report.

The release of the paper comes at a critical time.  Ohio now has the 3 rd highest foreclosure rate in the United States. Thousands of Ohioans have already lost their homes through foreclosure, and with statewide unemployment running above the national rate, thousands more are likely to experience this loss before the crisis has run its course. Greater Ohio is in the process of reaching out to key members of the General Assembly to translate the action items into legislation focused on state action.

WORKFORCE

Helping to Define and Promote Anchor Institutions: Targeting Scarce State Resources

Anchor institutions, such as “eds and meds,” assist in both redeveloping urban neighborhoods and promoting new workforce opportunities. Cleveland’s University Circle and The Ohio State University Campus and Medical Center are examples of anchors that catalyze development. We are working closely with legislators on a statutory definition of “anchor institutions,” with a goal of placing legislation into the capital bill next year. Identifying anchor institutions and defining the area surrounding them is critical as part of an amendment that will award bonus points to these projects and possibly increase eligibility under various state programs, such as the Clean Ohio Fund and Job Ready Sites.

REGIONAL GOVERNANCE REFORM AND COLLABORATION

Local Government Reform and Collaboration Commission: Working with OSU’s Glenn School

Greater Ohio is partnering with The Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs, which is coordinating research for the legislatively-formed Ohio Commission on Local Government Reform and Collaboration. Greater Ohio and Brookings already commissioned research that will examine the barriers to regional collaboration and governance and make policy recommendations to help communities work cooperatively to enhance delivery of essential services and cut costs. This report is tentatively scheduled for a fall release. In the interim, we are also gathering examples of local and regional collaborative efforts from around the state. If you have any examples, please contact us.

Visit the new Local Government Reform Commission Web site, coming soon, at:www.ohioreformandcollaboration.org.

BUILDING COMPETITIVE COMMUNITIES

Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit to be held in Cleveland on June 8

As part of the Brookings Institution/Greater Ohio Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative, Policy Bridge of Cleveland and Greater Ohio are hosting a Cleveland Mini-Summit on June 8 at the Wolstein Center in Cleveland. The Cleveland convening is the first of our expected “3 C’s” and other core community mini-summits.

The goal of the Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit is to align the Cleveland urban revitalization agenda more closely with state reforms and charge local leaders with advancing the agenda.  Ohio House Speaker Budish and Cleveland Mayor Jackson have confirmed their participation, and a range of business, city and neighborhood Cleveland leaders have been invited.  Bruce Katz, Brookings Vice President and Director of the Metropolitan Policy Program, is invited to give the national perspective.

The plenary discussion will focus on addressing Cleveland’s plans for establishing and coalescing around an urban and regional revitalization vision, and the importance of the state’s role and federal resources in achieving that vision. Breakout sessions will engage participants in discussing local actions in five areas – quality of place, housing, infrastructure/transportation, economic engines/innovation and workforce – to help flesh out the state action agenda that was framed in the fall. Read More or Register.

LEGISLATIVE TESTIMONY

We’re closely following various pieces of legislation and give frequent testimony before legislative leaders. Co-Director Gene Krebs provided recent testimony on transportation and economic growth, and national transportation expert Scott Bernstein, at Greater Ohio’s request, made a presentation to the House Finance Committee on transportation investments that will improve wealth for Ohio communities.

Check out our Web site’s new “State Policy and Education” section for weekly legislative updates at www.greaterohio.org.

IN THE NEWS

For recent press coverage of some of our activities see the following links:

Greater Ohio participated in groundbreaking federal legislation introduction for community revitalization. The Columbus Dispatch interviewed Co-Director Lavea Brachman and Senator Sherrod Brown.

Lavea Brachman participated on a panel at the Levin College Forum: Building Cleveland’s Future Beyond Foreclosure. Read the blog coverage from Rustwire.

The Springfield News-Sun covered a panel discussion led by Lavea Brachman at the Center City Association’s Annual Meeting.

Ohio Farmer magazine wrote an article on Greater Ohio’s Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative during an outreach visit to Lancaster by Co Director Gene Krebs and Project Coordinator Ann Sellers.

At a Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum, Gene Krebs and other experts discussed why it's time to move on passenger rail in Ohio. Hear the full story on WCBE.

STAY CONNECTED

Keep in the loop on all of our activities by clicking on the "sign up for future mailings" link below. Thank you for staying connected to Greater Ohio. Please contact us if you have questions or would like more information. Learn more about Greater Ohio at www.greaterohio.org or visit our blog at www.greaterohio.org/blog.

ABOUT US

Greater Ohio is the state’s “smart growth” organization. Our mission is to grow Ohio’s economy and improve the state’s quality of life through intelligent land use. Toward this end, Greater Ohio works to redevelop existing communities, strengthen regional cooperation, reduce Ohio’s energy profile and protect Ohio’s countryside and natural resources by promoting state policy through research, public education as well as local and grassroots advocacy.