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Local experts: New Northeast Ohio regional plan needed to stop missed development opportunities

Posted at 9:24 PM, May 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-21 21:24:24-04

CLEVELAND — Local experts believe a new Northeast Ohio regional plan and more state funding are needed to help jump start new development, new jobs and prevent missed opportunities in the greater Cleveland area.

Chris Stocking, with Clevelanders for Public Transit, told News 5 improving RTA locally is a key component in attracting large companies and tech jobs to the region.

"I think public transit in Northeast Ohio is a missed opportunity," Stocking said.

"If you look at cities and regions that are growing, it's places where people don't need a car, where they have a good transit system that connects them to jobs, to healthcare, to education."

"I think it's a missed opportunity that a lot of these small communities are competing against each other, without a larger vision for Northeast Ohio."

Amy Hanauer, Executive Director with Ohio Policy Matters, said more state funding is needed to improve tech education in grades K-12, and a better effort to capitalize and develop Northeast Ohio's lakefront.

"We've got to get the revenue into the state budget that it's going to take, and then we've got to invest in our people and in our communities, and I think transit and education are two of the big ones," Hanauer said.

"Our lakefront, when I think about how beautiful that could be, how well used it could be, instead of a lakefront airport that a few millionaires and billionaires use."

State Rep. Terrence Upchurch (D-Cleveland) agrees more funding is needed to support public transit in Ohio, despite the passage of a new budget that includes $70M additional transit dollars in 2019.

Upchurch agrees public transit could use an additional $50M and would be a critical component in attracting new jobs and stopping the continuing drop in Northeast Ohio population.

"It's more than just a transportation issue, it's a jobs issue, workforce development, healthcare issue," Upchurch said.

"We may have actually lost out on the opportunity to get an Amazon fulfillment center, but we will make funding improvements."