To present a bold vision for the future of their communities, a bipartisan, cross-sector network of leaders from small legacy cities have released “A Vision for Ohio’s Reinvention Cities.” Endorsed by more than thirty representatives of the private, public, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors, this forward-looking agenda outlines achievable state policies that are key to ensuring the revitalization of Ohio’s Reinvention Cities – legacy cities with fewer than 65,000 residents that have lost population since their 20th century peaks.The vision document proposes workable solutions that can be adopted by candidates and policymakers from both sides of the aisle as they work to strengthen these communities that are essential for ensuring Ohio’s future prosperity.
Ohio’s Reinvention Cities are presented as having long been key in building the state’s middle-class prosperity due to their rich histories of industry, innovation, and civic leadership. Yet global economic changes have challenged these communities, and an absence of supportive state policy has weakened their ability to transition and thrive under new economic realities. In response to these challenges, key leaders representing the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors from small legacy cities have formed the Reinvention Cities network, which works to advocate for shared policy goals and promote learning among peer cities.
The issued documents profile “Reinvention Cities” this way:
Ohio’s Reinvention Cities have been home to presidents and industrial giants alike. These 15 small cities and their 5 mid-sized peers are part of Ohio’s core identity and have a rich history of industry, innovation, and civic leadership. Today, more than 3.7 million Ohioans – one third of the state – live small- and mid-sized legacy cities and their surrounding regions. The well-being of these communities is not only critical to the millions of people living in and around them, but also to the state as a whole.
Network leaders stress the importance of state government in supporting local revitalization efforts, and view the “Vision for Ohio’s Reinvention Cities” as a way to highlight the need for partnership between local and state leaders.
“Marion is no different than our sister small legacy cities: we are all jewels in the Ohio crown that are in need of being polished to their original luster,” said Dean Jacob, President and CEO of the Marion Community Foundation. “In Marion, we are picking ourselves up by our bootstraps and forging forward by focusing on our many positive attributes and advantages, while actively addressing solutions to the problems we face. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, however, it will take the support of all Ohio’s resources to raise up our small legacy cities. Not only for our own benefit, but for the benefit of the entire State of Ohio, we urge the full support of our state leaders to cooperatively aid the implementation of the policies described in the Vision for Ohio’s Reinvention Cities produced by Greater Ohio Policy Center.”
“In Hamilton, we take pride in the collaborative culture within our community,” said Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith. “We are focused on results, and it takes new, creative, and cooperative approaches to make lasting change. When cities collaborate, we will all reap the benefits. This is why we ask that our state leaders fully support the implementation of the policies in the Vision for Ohio’s Reinvention Cities. Greater Ohio Policy Center has our full support in this effort.”
The policies highlighted in the “Vision of Ohio’s Reinvention Cities” focus on five broad categories: vibrant, prosperous, connected, healthy & fair, and strategic. Each of these categories corresponds to a vision statement imagining a bright future for Ohio’s small legacy cities with appropriate internal and external support. The proposed policies were derived from years of research by Greater Ohio Policy Center into successful revitalization strategies in smaller legacy cities, and fall into a broad range of issue areas including housing, transportation, infrastructure, and workforce development.
“The comprehensive policy platform in this vision document will support small businesses in our communities, the cornerstones of a healthy and vibrant city,” said Jodie Perry, President & CEO of the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce. “We believe that this document is an important step in acquainting our policymakers with the unique needs of small legacy communities like Mansfield and Richland County.”
Photo above: Zanesville at night, one of Ohio’s Reinvention Cities
Source: GreaterOhio; Photo: Creative Commons License