This in via e-mail from the office of State Representative Mike Foley:
Task force promotes statewide growth through investment in Ohio’s urban centers
State leaders identify methods to create a comprehensive vision for Ohio Communities
COLUMBUS- The Compact with Ohio Cities Task Force, chaired by State Reps. Mike Foley (D-Cleveland) and Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland), today released their legislative proposals to strengthen and revitalize Ohio’s urban centers and regional communities. The proposals focus on providing financial resources for education and job training to ensure productive employment opportunities in and around Ohio’s urban centers, enacting measures to efficiently recover and rehabilitate vacant or abandoned urban plots and expanding efforts to bring development to Ohio’s cities.
“Ohio’s urban centers are the backbone of innovation, commerce and quality of living in our state,” State Rep. Foley said. “I am proud of the recommendations issued by the task force and confident in their ability to create greater opportunity for successful growth in every region of Ohio. Redeveloping and strengthening our cities is critical to ensuring future prosperity for Ohio as the national recession lifts.”
This bipartisan task force was suggested by Ohio House Speaker Armond Budish to address the challenges facing Ohio’s cities, including lagging family income levels, steep increases in foreclosed and abandoned properties and sprawl. Members of the task force were charged with studying these obstacles and recommending measures to engender economic development and increase quality of life in and around Ohio’s urban centers.
“Fostering economic growth in our urban centers will provide reciprocal benefits to outlaying communities all across the state,” State Rep. Denise Driehaus said. “As we work to create jobs and improve services, we must do so by focusing on areas with high population density where the benefits will spread throughout the region.”
The task force was chaired by State Reps. Mike Foley and Sandra Williams, and included members from business and trade groups, development policy think tanks, and local officials from all over Ohio. State Rep. Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati), State Rep. Robert Hagan (D-Youngstown), State Rep. Peter Ujvagi (D-Toledo), State. Rep. Dale Mallory (D-Cincinnati), State Rep. Nan Baker (R-Westlake), State Rep. Courtney Combs (R-Hamilton), and State Rep. Peter Stautberg (R-Anderson Township) also served on the task force.
Copies of the report will be distributed to each of Ohio’s 50 largest cities as well as to Ohio’s urban universities, and will be available online here.
A summary of the comprehensive recommendations of the task force are listed below:
Stimulating Economic Growth in our Urban Centers
In order to realign programs and target smart growth in Ohio cities, the report encourages directing resources to areas with pre-existing utility and transportation infrastructure, as well as major employers such as urban universities, medical centers, and military bases. When the reuse or renovation of an existing building is not possible, the task force recommends provisions calling for certain standards of sustainability, waste reduction and public accountability for new construction projects as well as favoring sites and projects that are mass transit accessible. Furthermore, the report establishes tiered distress criteria to direct funds and projects to areas most in need.
Using Land More Wisely
The decline of regional urban centers has led to abandoned real estate in our cities. Legislative efforts have begun to halt foreclosures and limit the amount of time a property remains vacant if foreclosed upon. Measures have been launched to expand the authority of counties to establish land banks, which acquire, rehabilitate and reutilize vacant lots. Coordinated land use policy will revive urban plots, conserve open spaces and minimize the cost of expanding infrastructure.
Strengthening and Enhancing Ohio’s Workforce
There will be no greater strength in tomorrow’s economy than a highly-skilled work force. Recommendations put forth by the task force provide training grants for eligible employers to instruct workers in fields for which there is critical demand such as in the bioscience and biotechnology industry. The report also calls for greater availability of educational grants for working class Ohioans and the use of funds to ensure that Ohio stays on the cutting edge of industrial technology by modernizing industrial technological equipment.
Increasing Transportation Options for Travelers and Commuters
We have spent centuries and countless billions of dollars developing our cities. As a result, they offer great capacity for smart growth. In order to capitalize on our cities’ pre-existing infrastructure, the task force provides tools for combining efforts and gathering revenue for significant transportation projects including rail, road and bridge projects. The report also encourages state and local authorities to commit greater resources to public transportation.
Reducing State and Local Government Costs
To ensure an efficient and cost-effective government, the recommendations guarantee the timely and appropriate allocation of economic development incentives while working to preserve the billions of dollars we have invested in our cities. The task force also advocates the coordination and consolidation of programs and services among communities to minimize local costs, and recognizes the promise of several existing regional initiatives such as the Regional Prosperity Initiative in northeast Ohio, Agenda360 in Cincinnati, and the Montgomery County ED/GE Program.