Pokémon Go Bringing Gamers to Underused Public Spaces

August 29th, 2016

By Alex Highley

In the last few months, Pokémon Go has helped shift the gaming community from their TV and computer monitors to outdoor locations where they search for highly coveted Pokémon species. By bringing gamers out of their homes to parks, monuments, streets, and courtyards that they otherwise might never have visited, this game is changing the way these public spaces are being used, at least for now. Businesses are taking note and are attempting to take advantage of the new market of people that are within a short distance. Of course, the long-term value of the game remains to be seen since the popularity of the game will likely wane eventually. But there is the possibility that more video games will be created like Pokémon Go in the future, further drawing throngs of people into public areas and engaging them with the surrounding amenities, businesses, and people. GOPC supports creative ways of bringing people into contact with the assets and anchor institutions of Ohio’s cities.

Pokemon Go Downtown Dayton

With gamers walking down underused streets and ambling around public parks, people who otherwise might not have been outside are now new visitors to these areas, and more likely to participate in other activities such as buying a coffee at a nearby shop, interacting with strangers, or walking around a previously empty park. Increased interaction in these areas that were previously uninhabited will help boost the image of these public spaces, which often suffer from the stigma attached to underuse. New ways of attracting new visitors to city parks and plazas will help spur economic and social growth in public spaces in the future.


Neighborhoods in America’s Legacy Cities: A Dialogue in Detroit

August 4th, 2016

Greater Ohio Policy Center is excited to cosponsor a four-day event next month on the historic preservation of America’s legacy cities. The Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSDHA), will convene an interdisciplinary meeting in Detroit, Michigan September 13-16, 2016 to discuss the role of historic preservation in revitalizing legacy cities, where long-term population loss and economic decline present significant challenges for the future of the urban built environment.

Feedback from the  Historic Preservation in America’s Legacy Cities conference held at Cleveland State University in 2014 strongly demonstrates a need to continue and strengthen this important conversation among key stakeholders and decision-makers from legacy cities throughout the country.  At this crucial juncture, there are difficult questions about what role preservation can and should play in shaping the future of legacy cities, how to identify and leverage historic assets, what benefits and impediments exist in integrating preservation into community and economic development, and how we make decisions about what we save and what we destroy.  Detroit, a true legacy city that is rebuilding after years of disinvestment, will provide the perfect setting and context in which to raise these questions.

DetroitSkyline wikicommons Cropped

Photo Credit: Wikicommons

The conference will bring together preservationists, community developers, economic developers, urban planners, urban policymakers, urban designers, and others.  It will be an opportunity to cross-collaborate, share ideas, and devise solutions with the goals of launching a more integrated approach to planning for the future of Legacy Cities, bringing historic preservation into urban policymaking and crafting a 21st century preservation profession that is responsive to the needs and conditions of Legacy Cities.

Go Here to learn more about this Event


Internship Opening: GOPC seeks candidates for Research & Conference Support Intern position

August 2nd, 2016

The Greater Ohio Policy Center seeks qualified candidates to fill the Research Intern position. The description below is also available on the Job Opportunities page in PDF format.

Qualified candidates will be interviewed on a rolling basis. Applications will be accepted until position is filled.

Thank you for your interest in GOPC.


Intern, Research & Conference Support

Greater Ohio Policy Center

Candidate Position Description

The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) seeks an intern to assist GOPC in championing revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio. This position will provide research support to senior staff and assist with preparing for a large conference that will occur in March 2017. GOPC seeks an intern who is interested in urban revitalization issues, such as brownfield site remediation, water and sewer infrastructure, transportation, and housing.

This position is part-time (15 hours/week) and will begin in mid-August and will end in late December 2016 (i.e. Fall 2016 semester).
Intern will work under the direction of the Senior Policy Fellow and the Urban Revitalization Project Specialist. Intern will report to the Deputy Director.

Principal Duties and Responsibilities

This position will be responsible for the following activities:

  • Undertake directed research to assist GOPC’s mid-level and senior staff in carrying out high-quality research projects
  • Support senior staff in raising GOPC’s public profile by preparing select research, talking points and memos for speaking engagements and other outreach opportunities
  • Aid in planning and taking notes at meetings related to research project development and implementation
  • Assist GOPC’s communications staff in growing GOPC’s supporter base
  • Effectively advocate on GOPC’s issues in a bipartisan and non-partisan manner in all settings and situations

Percentages below denote an approximation of the amount of time the Intern, Research and Conference Support would spend on each major job duty.

Research and Project Assistance (75%)

  • Undertake select research under direction of senior staff that contributes to GOPC’s outreach efforts, and policy and advocacy work; support project managers in carrying out research projects, such as investigating different financing models and developing policy recommendations
  • Provide research support through: basic Census and ACS data gathering and graphing, literature scans and reviews, select interviews, and other information gathering activities
  • Must be a critical reader, thinker, and writer who is able to summarize key takeaways and can effectively communicate these takeaways in written memos and in meetings

Conference Planning and Organizational Support (25%)

  • Assist senior and mid-level staff with planning and organizing the GOPC Policy Summit in March 2017 and other convenings, roundtables, and large events. Responsibilities may include:
    • Assist with tracking panel development and panelist confirmations; assist with finalizing contact and biography information of panelists
    • Assist with printing and organizing conference
    • Assist with preparing Awards Ceremony
  • Assist senior staff with scheduling meetings with stakeholders and other partners
  • Other relevant duties as assigned

Education/Experience Requirements

  • Minimum 2 years of college experience
  • Interest in cities and revitalization. Coursework in urban and regional planning, public policy, or social sciences preferred
  • Experience with Microsoft Excel and Word strongly preferred. Experience with Adobe InDesign or other visual design programs preferred, not required

Knowledge Requirements

  • Must be strong writer
  • Must exhibit high degree of professionalism appropriate for high level partners
  • Must be extremely detail-oriented

Required Application Materials

  • Resume
  • Cover letter (generic cover letters and resumes will not be seriously considered)
  • One writing sample available upon request
  • Contact information for three references, including at least one academic reference

Send cover letter and resume to Jon Honeck, PhD, Senior Policy Fellow, jhoneck@greaterohio.org.

Other Job Information

  • The Greater Ohio Policy Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer.
  • Intern is expected to work in the GOPC office in Columbus during normal business hours (8a-5p).
  • Qualified candidates will be interviewed on a rolling basis. Applications will be accepted until position is filled.


This is an hourly employee position, with estimated rate of $10-$14/hour, depending on experience and qualifications.

About the Organization

The mission of the Greater Ohio Policy Center is to champion revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio.
Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) is a mission-driven non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Columbus and operating statewide. GOPC develops and advances policies and practices that value our urban cores and metropolitan regions as economic drivers and preserve Ohio’s open space and farmland.
Through education, research and outreach, GOPC strives to create a political and policy climate that advances economic growth through urban revitalization, modernized transportation options, improvements to infrastructure, and talent development and retention within the state.


Models for Success Session Delves into Funding of Ohio’s Transit Systems

July 27th, 2016

By Alex Highley, GOPC Project Associate

As part of the first breakout sessions at the 2016 ODOT Conference held at the Convention Center in Columbus, Greater Ohio Policy Center’s Deputy Director Alison Goebel moderated a panel session titled: “Models for Success: Moving Transit Forward in Times of Fiscal Constraint.” After Goebel’s brief comments to frame the session, speakers from Dayton, Cincinnati, and Toledo each discussed the funding models for their respective transit systems and highlighted the current challenges of ensuring that transit is well supported in Ohio. Brandon Policicchio of the Greater Regional Transit Authority, John Deatrick of the City of Cincinnati, and Jim Gee of the Toledo Regional Transit Authority summarized key facts about their area transit systems and described funding opportunities and sources, strategic partners, and innovative services each system provides.


Speakers from left: Brandon Policicchio, Jim Gee, Alison Goebel, and John Deatrick

In Ohio, Regional Transit Authorities (RTAs) are funded with a variety of local funding sources.  Eight counties utilize a county sales tax of up to 1%. Policicchio noted that Dayton’s RTA benefits over the long term from assurances that that revenue stream will continue, given that the half-cent sales tax does not expire for renewal. A few counties generate the majority of their RTA revenue via non-sales tax means: Toledo Area RTA (TARTA), the Steel Valley, and the Ohio Valley levy a property tax and the Cincinnati area RTA (SORTA) levies an income tax. Interestingly, Deatrick noted that Cincinnati will begin to levy a new parking fee to generate a few million dollars to fund the Streetcar, which will be unveiled in September.

While 27 Ohio counties do not even operate a public transit system, and given that 60 percent of public transit trips are work trips (medical trips are the second most common destination for transit riders), local transit systems would greatly benefit from increased state support. As GOPC has highlighted in recent memos, Ohio’s contribution to transit calculates to 63 cents per capita, which ranks 38th in the nation – in between Mississippi and North Dakota. With federal grant support few and far between, Gee explained that many existing transit authorities must scramble to find creative local ways to ensure their systems continue to serve riders.

Despite the strains facing Ohio’s transit systems, Gee emphasized that there are reasons to be encouraged about transit in Ohio. Firstly, ODOT remains an important player and a key partner in ensuring that transit has a bright future in Ohio. GOPC echoes this support of the state’s role and was encouraged by ODOT’s commission of the 2015 Transit Needs Study. Secondly, baby boomers and millennials simply demand more public transportation and will be a significant voice in this issue. Thirdly, there are already many success stories in Ohio; as Policicchio and Deatrick discussed, Dayton serves over 200,000 annual trips while Cincinnati is implementing exciting mobile technologies such as fare purchasing via smartphone as part of its imminent Streetcar rollout. Moreover, Cleveland was selected to host the recent Republican National Convention in large part due to its robust light rail system and excellent Bus Rapid Transit fleet.

Brandon DaytonJim GeeJohn Deatrick

From left: Policicchio, Gee, and Deatrick

The need for additional state support is clear, however this session highlighted that Ohio’s transit agencies are acting creatively and resourcefully to meet demand for their services. 


In Time for the RNC, Cleveland’s Public Square Renovation Showcases Fine Center-City Redevelopment

July 25th, 2016

By Alex Highley, GOPC Project Associate

The redesign of Cleveland, Ohio’s Public Square, which was completed in June 2016 and just in time for the Republican National Convention (RNC), demonstrates impressive investment in a legacy city’s downtown core, to the long-term benefit of the public. The remodeling of the area has transformed the area from a mere intersection of traffic to an exemplary planning case study of intelligently recreated urban space for refined functionality and imagery. By creating more green spaces with park benches, walkable paths, the artistically-modeled area now exudes an atmosphere that is welcoming for visitors and passers-by.

Along with newly paved walkways, fresh green spaces, newly planted trees, and a fountain for kids to play in, the refurbished square features a brand new outdoor café for visitors to enjoy. Statues of the city’s founder and a former mayor have been preserved and repositioned in the square. For special events, as the RNC demonstrated, Public Square acts as the central hub where citizens can congregate to absorb ranging opinions at the “speakers’ platform” on the south end of the park.

Cle Public Square

Cleveland Public Square revitalized. Photo credit: The Group Plan

The renovation of Public Square, overseen by the nonprofit city-county Group Plan Commission, in total cost $50 million. According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, $37 million was spent on landscaping and $13 million was spent on reconstruction underground. A combination of government and private sources contributed to this project. As Greater Ohio Policy Center’s reports have argued, urban core investment will substantially improve the downtown area in many ways. Firstly, by attracting people who otherwise wouldn’t visit the area, commercial activity in the surrounding businesses will improve. Property values in the area will likely rise due to the public good of improved amenities such as green spaces. Lastly, as we saw with the RNC, the new area should act as a venue of bringing people together for events, such as the upcoming Cleveland Orchestra concert, where Clevelanders and visitors can interact and enjoy themselves.


Ohio as a Bellwether for National Elections

July 20th, 2016

By Alison Goebel, GOPC Deputy Director

On July 13, Kyle Kondik spoke at the Columbus Metropolitan Club; Kondik is the author of the recently released book, The Bellwether: Why Ohio Picks the President.

In his research, Kondik looked at the last 30 national election cycles (i.e. his research begins in the late 1800s) and compared Ohio’s voting record to the national results.  He found that in nearly every election, Ohio very closely mirrored the national outcomes in terms of winners and percent differences between candidates.

Kondik argues Ohio’s unique political, cultural, and physical geography have been, historically, a good representation of the country—Ohio has many smaller cities but no one major urban center that pulls the state Democratic (as Chicago does in Illinois), no single industry that dominates the state (as coal does in West Virginia), and Ohio’s urban and rural areas are moderated by its growing suburban areas.

Interviewed by Karen Kasler, Kondik predicted that Ohio’s “collar counties”—those counties outside Cuyahoga, Franklin and Hamilton that make up the metro regions of the state—will take on more importance in the 2016 election.  These are the places that are seeing the greatest population growth and are politically more variable than the urban county they surround. 

Kondik did not predict how Ohio would go in November, but he did predict that Ohio’s final “spreads” would mirror the national outcome in this election.  He did also note that in future elections, Ohio’s relative racial homogeneity may make Ohio less of a bellwether as Latinos and other racial-ethnic groups continue to grow in numbers, nationally.

As former Attorney General Richard Cordray’s Director of Policy and Research, Kondik was a wealth of information on how Ohio compared to national trends but also how individual counties in Ohio performed compared to each other over a number of decades.

While Kondik’s research may not have a direct land use angle, his perceptiveness of how policy and politics unfold does provide insight into Ohio’s current local, state, and national political environment. 


Exciting Opportunity: GOPC accepting applications for Executive Director position

July 15th, 2016

The Greater Ohio Policy Center seeks qualified candidates to fill the Executive Director position. The description below is also available on the Job Opportunities page in PDF format.

This position will remain open until filled. Thank you for your interest in GOPC.


Executive Director

Greater Ohio Policy Center

Candidate Position Description

The Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) seeks applicants to fill the position of the organization’s Executive Director. GOPC, a statewide non-profit organization based in Columbus and launched in 2008, has established itself as the lead policy, research and advocacy voice in the state advancing revitalization and sustainable development in communities and regions across Ohio.  The GOPC ED operates in a strictly bipartisan manner and leverages GOPC’s reputation and role as a highly respected resource on these issues.  Candidates for this position should have a deep passion for the organization’s mission as well as the ambition, leadership capacity and vision to continue to advance this highly effective organization. A GOPC ED candidate should be a strategic thinker with the ability to be entrepreneurial and opportunistic, while also being thoughtful and analytical about new policy needs and development. 

The ED leads an organization focused on developing and advancing policies at the state level that align with local needs for economic and community regrowth. The GOPC ED is expected to identify policy gaps and to lead the development of new policies and tools that enable local leaders to undertake more effective economic and community revitalization activities.  The GOPC ED will lead and manage a multi-talented staff whose skills represent the range of the organization’s effectiveness as a thought-leader, policy advocate, and partner in piloting new local practices.  As such, the ED does not need expertise in all of these areas but should have the ability to manage individuals that are highly skilled in areas such as legislative affairs, research and data collection, communications, stakeholder outreach, and report writing. It is critical for the ED to be capable of aligning the organization’s research and report writing functions with its advocacy, outreach and education efforts.  The ED should be highly collaborative by nature and be creative about forming new partnerships and building coalitions around the state to achieve policy goals. 

Candidates should possess the following attributes:

  • minimum of 5 to 8 years’ experience leading and managing a non-profit organization
  • ability to inspire and be an effective leader
  • an understanding and passion for the organization’s mission
  • proven ability to conduct mission-driven fund development  from a variety of private and non-profit sources, including grants and fee-for-service based contracts
  • excellent communications and writing skills, including experience with public speaking, communicating with board and staff, and educating stakeholders, partners, and media
  • ability to oversee and guide research projects aligned with policy outcomes and objectives, in collaboration with staff
  • address and manage day-to-day organizational operations

Additional preferred attributes include:

  • subject-matter expertise in one or more of the following areas: economic development, transportation, infrastructure, community and neighborhood redevelopment, and/or regional governance
  • understanding of policy development and/or experience working with policymakers, preferably at the state level
  • experience building and sustaining relationships with a wide range of stakeholders, including funders, local leaders and elected officials, non-profit partners, private sector parties and reporters
  • experience in shaping, convening and leading stakeholder meetings, small roundtables and larger conferences tied to policy development and education to advance GOPC projects and organizational goals
  • a sense of humor and ability to inspire and mentor staff
  • an advanced degree in a related field, such as urban and regional planning, policy, or law.

The Executive Director is based in Columbus and works out of the GOPC Columbus office. Regular travel by car around the state is expected, with some work occasionally occurring after normal business hours.  Greater Ohio Policy Center is an Equal Opportunity Employer. 

Required Application Materials

Please include a resume and a cover letter that describes your qualifications for the job and why you are the best candidate to lead the Greater Ohio Policy Center.

Salary and Benefits

Greater Ohio Policy Center offers competitive salary, medical, dental, and life insurance benefits, a retirement plan, parking stipend, and highly competitive paid time off to employees.  

About the Organization

The Mission of the Greater Ohio Policy Center is to champion revitalization and sustainable growth in Ohio.

Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) is a mission-driven non-profit, non-partisan organization based in Columbus and operating statewide.  GOPC develops and advances policies and practices that value our urban cores and metropolitan regions as economic drivers and preserve Ohio’s open space and farmland. 

Through education, research and outreach, GOPC strives to create a political and policy climate that advances economic growth through urban revitalization, modernized transportation options, improvements to infrastructure, and talent development and retention within the state.

Application Deadline: position will remain open until filled.

Interested candidates should email a cover letter and resume to:

 Peg Moertl, GOPC Board of Trustees

c/o Vanessa Bello,




GOPC Executive Director will depart to take position at Foundation

July 13th, 2016


Dear Greater Ohio Policy Center Friends:

After nearly ten years at the Greater Ohio Policy Center — eight of those years at the organization’s helm – it is with mixed emotions that I announce I will step down as the organization’s Executive Director, effective July 31st.  I have accepted a position as Vice President for Programs, an exciting opportunity at the newly established Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.  Located in Detroit, Michigan, the Foundation will be focusing its activities and investments in Southeast Michigan (Detroit) and Western New York (Buffalo).  The Foundation’s sizeable endowment and expedited 20-year spending time frame create transformative opportunities in these two regions to stimulate growth and promote healthy communities.

I am extremely proud of the work that the Greater Ohio Policy Center has accomplished in the past decade. Filling an on-going critical need for innovative policies and practices that revitalize and promote sustainable growth in the state’s cities and regions, GOPC is in an unparalleled position to continue with cutting-edge research, policy advancement, and application of best-practices around the state. With its talented staff, highly engaged board, and well-earned reputation for high standards and bipartisan impact, GOPC is poised to continue advancing this important agenda in Ohio.  

I am deeply indebted to GOPC’s inspiring partners and dedicated funders and supporters from around the state and beyond. I am eager to continue this critical work affecting our communities from a new perspective and expect to stay in close touch with my Ohio friends and colleagues, as well as those located throughout the Midwest and the rest of the country, to advance our shared mission.

While the Board will be conducting a search for a new Executive Director, including solicitation of candidates from our family of partners and supporters, GOPC will be in the capable hands of Deputy Director Alison Goebel, who will act as Interim Executive Director.  I want to thank all of our stakeholders for the opportunity to have led GOPC and undertake this important work.

Warm Regards,



Congress considers changes to EPA revolving loan formulas: Ohio may lose ground

July 6th, 2016

By Jon Honeck, GOPC Senior Policy Fellow


Each year Congress appropriates funds for the U.S. EPA to provide capitalization grants for state revolving loan funds for wastewater treatment.  In Ohio, this fund is known as the Water Pollution Control Loan Fund (WPCLF).   The Ohio EPA sets priorities for the fund according to state needs and federal guidelines.  Local communities submit applications for loans to help finance wastewater treatment plant, sewer system upgrades, or conversions of septic systems to centralized sewage collection.  Ohio’s allotment of the total appropriation is set at 5.7% of the total appropriation amount; the state received $78.5 million in 2016. The annual subsidy allows the WPCLF to offer interest rates below standard market rates.  When combined with loan repayments, the fund can offer substantial amounts of financing.  In 2015, it made a record $759.6 million in loans. 

Congress orders a review

In 2014, Congress passed a major overhaul to the Clean Water Act.  This legislation, known as the Water Resources Development and Reform Act, mandated that the EPA review the allocation formula for the Clean Water Act revolving loan program.  The formula had changed little since the program was created in 1987.  At that time, the formula roughly reflected states’ share of the national population and share of the Clean Watersheds Needs Survey. 

Congress asked the US EPA to determine whether the formula addresses the water quality needs of states based on: (1) the most recent Clean Watersheds Needs Survey (CWNS); and (2) other information that the agency determined appropriate.  The CWNS takes place every four years.  In the 2012 survey, Ohio wastewater utilities identified $14.6 billion in capital projects that needed to be addressed over a 20-year period.  (Click here to access the 2012 CWNS).

Potential Revisions to the Formula

The US EPA presented its report to Congress in May, 2016.  It can be accessed here.  The agency’s main conclusion is that “the current allotment does not adequately reflect the reported water quality needs or the most recent census population for the majority of States” (emphasis in original, p. 5).    The report considers four basic factors that could be used in a revised formula:

  • Clean Watershed Needs Survey (CWNS, which the agency admits underestimates water quality needs)
  • Resident Population from the 2010 U.S. Census
  • Water Quality Impairment Component Ratio (WQICR), an existing database documenting pollution in rivers, lakes, and streams, derived from data submitted by the states; and,
  • Ratio of revolving loan fund assistance to the federal capitalization grant over the past ten years (to reward states that have increased project funding by leveraging their federal grants as much as possible);

Using these factors, the report considers three possible options for a new formula.  Each option would limit a state’s potential loss to 25% and its potential gain to 200%. 

1 2012 Clean Watersheds Needs Survey (70%), 2010 population (30%)
2 2012 CWNS (50%), 2010 population (30%), WQICR (20%)
3 2012 CWNS (50%), 2010 population (30%), WQICR (10%), Ratio of assistance to federal grant (10%)

Ohio’s allocation would decline

Ohio fares poorly in all three scenarios, mostly because its share of the national population has fallen by over a full percentage point in the last 30 years, to about 3.7% of the national total.  Interestingly, Ohio’s share of the Clean Watersheds Needs Survey has fallen only slightly, reflecting the large amount of EPA-mandated combined sewer overflow work that must be done.   All three scenarios would yield double-digit declines in Ohio’s allotment, with option 1 creating an 18.2% decline, and options 2 and 3 at the maximum reduction of 25%.   In Program Year 2016, a 25% reduction would have meant a loss of nearly $20 million in federal funding. 

What happens now?

The scenarios in the report are only suggestions.  Congress would have to pass legislation to modify the current formula.  Formulas that did not have a “stop-loss” rule of 25% could have even greater effects on Ohio’s allocation.  Significant federal funding cuts would make it more difficult for the WPCLF to provide low interest rate loans to Ohio communities at a time when sewer rates are rising and affordability is becoming an issue.  It would become especially difficult to offer principal forgiveness options to Ohio’s poorest communities.  These communities already face reduced federal funding options from cuts to the Community Development Block Grant program.  Between 2000 and 2014, average Ohio sewer charges increased by 85 percent, more than twice the rate of consumer inflation.[1]  In a 2015 report on infrastructure needs, GOPC identified replacement and upgrades to water and sewer infrastructure as critical needs that span Ohio’s cities and villages of all population sizes.  Key stakeholders in the area should make every effort to inform Congress about the importance of maintaining Clean Water Act revolving loan program funding. 

[1] Author’s analysis of average user charges from Ohio EPA, 2014 Water and Sewer Rate Survey.  Consumer Price Inflation increased by 37 percent.

Opportunity to Feature Your Photography of Ohio’s Cities

June 28th, 2016

If you take photos in Ohio’s cities as a hobby or as part of your profession, then GOPC is interested in featuring your work in future editions of reports, newsletters, memos, and on our website. GOPC is looking for high quality photos that showcase the beauty and vibrancy of Ohio’s cityscapes, neighborhoods, green infrastructure, shops and restaurants, and farmland. Please send any photos you are willing to share with us to Alex Highley at ahighley@greaterohio.org. If we decide to showcase your work, we will of course credit the photos and share with you the content we created.