Donate to GOPC on May 12 and boost your dollars!

May 7th, 2015

The Big Give is Coming to Central Ohio!

For 24 hours, beginning Tuesday May 12, at 10:00 a.m., the Columbus Foundation will increase your online donation of $20 or more made to the Greater Ohio Policy Center!

Starting at 10am on May 12th and ending at 10am on May 13th, the Columbus Foundation is matching on a pro rata basis all donations made to nonprofits and charities in central Ohio.  The pool is $1.3 million and the Greater Ohio Policy Center is an eligible recipient!

Everyday GOPC works with leaders in the public, private, nonprofit, and philanthropic sectors to advance policies and programs that support the redevelopment of existing communities, strengthen regional cooperation, and protect the countryside and Ohio’s natural resources.

Support from donors like you help fund the work we do; won’t you join us in championing revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio?

Best of all, you don’t even have to live in central Ohio to participate in the Big Give!

How it Works

Step 1: Beginning at 10 a.m. on May 12, visit and click on the Big Give banner.

Step 2: Search for Greater Ohio Policy Center. Click the Give Now button. 100% of your donation will go to GOPC.

Step 3: Enter your credit card information to complete your donation of $20 or more. There is no maximum amount.

The Big Give ends at 10 a.m. on May 13. Please make a gift during this 24 hour period—this is a rare opportunity to make your dollar go even further!

If you have any questions, please call the GOPC office and we can help: 614-224-0187.

Brachman Presents Ways to Leverage the Economic Potential of Ohio’s Cities, Towns & Metros

January 27th, 2015

By Samantha Dawson, GOPC Intern

Last Thursday, January 22, GOPC’s Executive Director, Lavea Brachman presented at OSU’s Center for Urban & Regional Analysis. During the presentation, “Shining Cities on a Hill or Lights Under a Bushel? Realizing the Economic Potential of Ohio’s Cities, Towns and Metros,” Lavea discussed ways for regenerating prosperity in Ohio’s cities, towns and metros and leveraging the state’s assets to fulfill our cities’ potential.

Research on city trajectories has indicated little population growth and subsequent decreases in economic standing in our legacy cities. By looking at other locations that have successfully revitalized, such as Pittsburgh and Baltimore, Greater Ohio has been learning ways to improve these cities’ potential.

In order to return prosperity to these cities, a positive transformation needs to take place–introducing these metropolises to the new economy. By physically rebuilding these areas and introducing new uses to vacant properties, there will be growth and regeneration of the success these communities have previously experienced. The introduction or connection of economic engines, such as universities and hospitals, is also vital to the growth of these cities, as well as the exploration of other potential engines capable of retaining people and businesses. Thinking regionally is also a main goal in restoring these areas.

It is apparent that policies need to include a more intentional urban agenda for the restoration of Ohio’s cities as the economic engines of the state. Encouraging the cities to work interdependently is a challenging, yet hopeful prospect for Ohio.

Parking Smartly and Alternative Uses for Metered Parking Spaces

September 8th, 2011

Car parking and specifically, parking spaces, have been getting a fair bit of attention lately in Ohio and beyond.  San Francisco recently launched “SFPark” a web-based system that enables smartphone users to find available parking in real time.  The sensors that provide information on open and filled spots are also helping the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to determine high-use and underused areas.  With this information, SFMTA can adjust meter pricing to incentive drivers to utilize (cheaper) spots away from the high-use streets.  Although the initial investments for this pilot project have been expensive (a $19.8 million grant from US Department of Transportation), the long term savings of improved traffic flow will result in reduced gas consumption and emissions from circling cars, and a likely increased use in public transit to high-use, high priced, areas.  Most importantly, this system allows San Francisco to more effectively use the resources they have already, and reduces the need to build more parking in the urban core—an aggregated cost that likely would be much higher than the price of the pilot.

Closer to home, cities throughout Ohio will be participating in PARK(ing) Day on Friday September 16th.  PARK(ing) Day is a worldwide event where artists and citizens use metered parking spaces for temporary public art spaces.  The event uses DIY art installations to “call attention to the need for more urban open space, to generate critical debate around how public space is created and allocated, and to improve the quality of urban human habitat.”  Whereas SFPark works to make the existing parking infrastructure more efficient, PARK(ing) Day raises questions about the infrastructure itself and suggests that public space can be used for more than just car parking.  Here in Greater Ohio’s homebase, Columbus, high school and college art students can register their PARK(ing) Day spot for a public art competition.

Revitalizing our cities and using land in intelligent and economically competitive ways means that parking will always be part of the conversation. 

The original PARK, a public art installation set up for two hours at a San Francisco parking meter in 2005.  Photo courtesy of Rebar Art and Design Studio.

The S.C.O.R.E. Report

December 20th, 2010

By Gene Krebs.

Ohio is a data desert.  Recently an important tool to correct that was introduced.

Secretary of State Brunner has been working for some time on a data compilation for citizens available on a single web site, called S.C.O.R.E..

The right and the left of the political spectrum agree on the need for better transparency and accountability.  To prove the right is also involved, look at HB 420 of the 127th GA by Brinkman.  We testified in support of the bill and had an amendment incorporated requiring the Administration to be more transparent with data.  They ignored this aspect of the law, and refused to prepare the required reports.

Better data is needed for better transparency.  The SCORE report takes data from domain of the ruling elite and places it at the disposal of Bobby and Betty Buckeye.  Previously only members of the General Assembly or the Administration had regular access to this type of data; starting now all citizens can access it.

This is also good for business, as business responds to certainty, and this data gives businesses looking at Ohio fewer blind spots.

This is a good thing for Ohio.

Has Mayor Coleman Been Dealt a Good Hand?

December 13th, 2010

By Gene Krebs.

I just read Joe Hallet’s interesting article in the Columbus Dispatch on Mayor Mike Coleman.

Quick question: please name the five things that will eventually halt the growth of Columbus.

Answer:  PA, WV, KY, IN and Lake Erie.  I expect that Toledo will make a mad dash for the IN line to avoid having Columbus reach to MI.

Seriously though, Columbus, by rapid growth, has been able to “mask” its core problems.  If you look at Columbus from the 1950 footprint perspective, then it doesn’t look quite as rosy.  See the quote from this Community Research Partners report:

Population loss. From 1970 to 2000, all the study cities, with the exception of Columbus, had a population loss ranging from about one-fifth to one-third of their 1970 population. During this time, the Columbus “older city” (within the city’s 1950 boundaries) lost 30% of its population.”

Go to page 2-4 of the report for an interesting table that illustrates the data problem for Columbus.  As Columbus finds itself increasingly hemmed in, it must now fix its problems.  If, like Cincinnati, it had been forced to “live” within the 1950 boundaries, if would be viewed differently.

So, even though while on the surface it looks like Coleman has been doing an outstanding job, when compared to Mayor Plusquellic  in Akron or Mayor Williams in Youngstown, if this were euchre, he was dealt both bauers and one ace.  He should be able to make the trick.  Not a criticism of Mayor Coleman, but just examining his cards.

State Auditor Launches Shared Services Website

November 9th, 2010

The State Auditor recently launched an interactive web-based tool for exploring examples of local government and school shared service partnerships.  The Shared Services Idea Center, developed in partnership with Kent State University, pulls together information provided by local governments, school systems and other community organizations throughout Ohio.  Greater Ohio believes transformative governance reform is part of a three part strategy, along with building on local and regional assets and engaging the federal government, to strengthen Ohio’s regions and restore prosperity to Ohio.  State policies should more aggressively encourage these innovative shared service partnerships as both a way to save money and enhance efficiency. 

Please check out the Auditor’s site for more information:

On the GO (The Greater Ohio Newsletter)

June 28th, 2010

Check out the new format of Greater Ohio’s Newsletter, On the GO. If you are not signed up to receive these newsletters, please sign up here.  Here is the top story from the newsletter:

Experts Converge to Provide County Land Bank Training

Greater Ohio Policy Center, in partnership with the newly formed Center for Community Progress, whose goal is to create vibrant communities through reuse of vacant, abandoned properties with offices in both Washington, D.C. and Flint, Michigan, hosted an interactive training session for select counties on Ohio’s current land bank law, which was recently expanded to an additional 41 counties.

Over 60 representatives from 11 counties participated in the daylong event with presentations by Greater Ohio’s Lavea Brachman, the Center for Community Progress’s Dan Kildee and Amy Hovey, as well as Gus Frangos, President of the Cuyahoga County Land Reutilization Corporation.

Greater Ohio, a key figure in the legislation that enabled additional counties to access this important tool, provided specific information on Ohio’s legislation that addresses county land banks. From Dan Kildee, former Genesse County Treasurer, participants learned about the basic concepts behind a county land bank and how the entity is financially structured. Amy Hovey, a former consultant to the Genesse County Land Bank and integral in its development, discussed various land bank models throughout Michigan and the country to show how this important tool could be customized to meet the needs of individual counties. Finally, Gus Frangos provided first-hand knowledge on how to set up a county land bank in Ohio as well as provided practical advice on the trigger points for different operation and policy decisions and the pitfalls to avoid.

Greater Ohio hopes to continue to edcuate counties on this powerful tool to address the foreclosure and vacant property crisis plaguing our communties, so continue to check our website for additional trainings.

Columbus On the Record Featuring Gene Krebs

June 2nd, 2010

Check out this video of Greater Ohio Policy Center’s Co-Director, Gene Krebs. Gene offers the smart growth policy perspective while discussing a range of different topics.

GreenLight Zine

August 17th, 2009

The GreenLight Zine is a local resource for D.I.Y. environmentalists, specifically in the northeast Ohio region.  GreenLight’s goal is to empower youth to promote environmental sustainability in their communities, with the intent to educate and provide an outlet for young environmental writers.  The GreenLight Zine is Cleveland based and it was started in the summer of 2007 by Lora DiFranco and Emma Bishop at Oberlin College.  So far they, with the help of their friends, have released five issues, the most recent Spring 2009 issue is the D.I.Y. Guide to Cleveland.  Other issues have covered the topics of water use and local foods.  They visit local high schools and colleges, and also spread the message through the Cleveland music scene as well.  Since Lora and Emma graduated in 2008, they have been putting the zine together in their spare time in the evenings and weekends.  Their mission is about environmental sustainability, but also community building as well.  This is a terrific resource for northeast Ohio, especially for young people who want to get more involved in these issues.  To learn more, check out their website at:

Newsletter Question -Greater Ohio's Spotlight on Toledo

March 27th, 2009

What are your community’s assets or historical industries, and how might they be better recognized and/or transformed and leveraged?

A Spotlight on Ohio’s Communities: Toledo

Toledo has been engaged for a few years in several local economic development practices that align with the Restoring Prosperity Initiative “playbook,” including leveraging an anchor institution, the University of Toledo; building on assets, like the Lake Erie waterfront; and targeting resources, like new schools, into neighborhoods with market potential.

Transformation: From Glass to Solar

In Toledo, once the glass-making capital of the country, most of the city’s output over the years has gone into making everything from windshields to windows for cars and buildings. But as the auto and construction industries have declined, so too, has Toledo’s manufacturing sector. To secure its future, Toledo, once known as the “Glass City,” embraced its past; Toledo is where glass was first mass-produced for bottles, buildings, and cars. Now, the city is turning those skills — and that tradition — to the sun.

Utilizing an Anchor Institution to Foster Economic Development

Why Toledo? Glass is a key component in solar technology, and the University of Toledo (UT) has been doing extensive solar-cell research for two decades. With funding from the federal government, Third Frontier, other state programs, and private industry, the City of Toledo is now the largest manufacturer of solar panels in the U.S. According to the local Regional Growth Partnership, the region enjoys more than 8,000 jobs related to solar energy, including the jobs created at a number of innovative small companies – many of which spun out of the University of Toledo, like Xunlight Corp., founded by a UT professor and staffed by dozens of UT graduates. A manufacturer of solar products, Xunlight now has more than 80 employees. Many of Xunlight’s workers once made auto parts: everything from windshields to vinyl seats. Now they turn out thin, flexible solar modules that power homes and businesses as “green collar” workers.

These investments are consistent with larger strategy to align research at Ohio’s urban universities and industry clusters in places such as Akron, Cincinnati, Columbus, Cleveland, Dayton, and Toledo. Greater Ohio’s policy agenda calls for taking it a step further by creating Urban Transformation Zones (UTZs). Ohio should replace the expiring state Enterprise Zone incentives with UTZ’s. These zones surrounding anchor institutions would target tax incentives and other state investments to support business and residential development in downtowns and neighborhoods where the anchor institutions are located. This zone concept aligns well with the ODOD strategic plan’s focus on “Ohio Hubs,” as well as OBOR’s centers of excellence. Through UTZs, the state would leverage these new investments and help catalyze the market and spur revitalization in these areas.

Embracing the Waterfront

The Marina District is starting to take shape in East Toledo and, when completed, will redefine Toledo’s riverfront much as the Veterans Glass City Skyway bridge redefined the skyline upon its completion. The Glass City Marina is being developed on the former First Energy/Toledo Edison Acme Power Plant site. The brownfield redevelopment initiative is part of a historic industrial waterfront being redeveloped into a commercial/residential multi-use center.

Another development in downtown Toledo is the construction of a new sports arena, also located on a brownfield site. Projected for completion in late summer, it will complement Fifth Third Field to spur increased development in the central business district.

T he Port of Toledo, located at the confluence of the Maumee River and the western basin of Lake Erie, with nearly seven miles of seaway waterfront and multimodal access to rail, trucking, and air transport modes, is one of the busiest and most diverse transportation centers on the Great Lakes . The Andersons, Inc., based in Toledo, doing business in not only consumer retailing industries, but also grain, ethanol, plant nutrient, railcar leasing and repair, and turf products production, is one of many global companies utilizing the Port. The Marina District revitalization and the Port of Toledo, examples of place-based approaches to leveraging regional assets, align with the Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative policy agenda.

New Schools, New Neighborhoods

In Toledo’s neighborhoods, the New Schools, New Neighborhoods (NSNN) initiative is improving both the learning environments in Toledo’s schools and the living environments in proximity to those schools. The initiative, led by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, working with over 50 community partners, is designed to coordinate the timing of investments in community revitalization and school improvements to leverage and spark community growth and development. Redeveloping these neighborhoods makes it possible to transform disadvantaged areas into communities of choice.

The new $6 million, 44,363 Westfield Elementary School reflects the Latino neighborhood both in aesthetics and proposed programs. After two years without an elementary school, the Westfield community again has a central hub for its learning community. The area’s Latino heritage directly inspired Westfield’s warm color palette.  Toledo Public Schools and designers from The Collaborative Inc, a member of Allied Toledo Architects, worked with the community to develop a school unique to its location.

Linking Local Practices and State Strategies to Restore Prosperity

Progress, then, in moving Ohio and its cities forward into the future begins with a critical assessment that clarifies the community’s assets and its role within the larger region and economy. Toledo has taken a close look at its core assets and has made strides in maximizing its potential. Its leaders have asked some hard questions about their strengths and weaknesses. They are undertaking brownfield remediation, and making downtown and waterfront redevelopment a central component of their economic renewal. They are redeveloping their old communities and making under-performing school districts centers of reform and excellence.

The state’s Clean Ohio Fund played a role in spurring the Marina District redevelopment with brownfield redevelopment funding. The state can go further and incentivize its cities to identify their assets, collaborate regionally and build on their strengths. Those places that recognize and leverage their assets are the ones that will succeed in the global economy. In a time of great needs and limited resources, the state can help cities by pulling together disparate policies in areas such as transportation, housing, work force, innovation, and education and concentrating resources in the core places that drive 21st century prosperity.