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In its recommendation to the U.S. EPA, the Ohio EPA identified Cuyahoga County as a nonattainment area under 2012 federal fine particle pollution standards. Other Greater Cleveland counties that formerly were in nonattainment status now meet the standards. When the designation becomes effective, Ohio will have three years to implement strategies to bring the area into compliance. The final federal decision is expected by August 14. Last year, NOACA published an overview of Northeast Ohio air quality trends (PDF).

Placemaking in Legacy Cities, a report prepared for the Center for Community Progress, uses case studies in four cities to illustrate placemaking's potential in older industrial centers. The report explores how Buffalo, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Pittsburgh have employed placemaking strategies in four different settings: downtowns, anchor districts, neighborhoods, and corridors.

In a paper they prepared for Ohio City Incorporated, Richey Piiparinen and Jim Russell said that Cleveland has suffered from a lack of demographic churn. Their research found that Greater Cleveland's outmigration rate was normal, but its inmigration rate was well below average. They also said the way population is growing in downtown Cleveland and its surrounding neighborhoods presents an opportunity to "position the city to be a model in the development of the equitable, integrated neighborhood." In The Plain Dealer, an editorial called for "more collaborative and comprehensive private-public effort", and Piiparinen summarized his recommendations in an op-ed.

After several years of work, the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium released its vision document for the 12-county Northeast Ohio region. The vision makes nine recommendations for improving the future of the region, and identifies 41 initiatives for implementing them. The NEOSCC is collecting signatures from supporters of the vision, and its board is scheduled to vote on the vision's adoption at a February 25 meeting. Marc Lefkowitz of GreenCityBlueLake called it "a path forward that amplifies the good things about our communities."

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency awarded $998,000 in Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grants. Of the 29 planning studies submitted for consideration, NOACA selected 13 for funding, including nine in Cuyahoga County. The largest award, $118,000, went to support the Eastside Greenway initiative. Other awards went to studies in Collinwood/Euclid, Parma Heights, and Rocky River. NOACA staff also will provide technical assistance for six transportation studies in five Cuyahoga County cities.

Regenerating America's Legacy Cities, a policy report by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman for the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, explores the challenges to redeveloping America's older industrial cities. It examines 18 selected cities, including Akron, Canton, Cleveland, and Youngstown. It urges the cities to avoid 'silver bullet' ideas and advocates for a framework they call 'strategic incrementalism'.

The increasing number of bicyclists in Greater Cleveland is creating tension between divers and cyclists. Bike Cleveland launched a public awareness campaign intended to improve motorist awareness of cyclists. Participants in a recent edition of The Regina Brett Show discussed the issues, and NOACA Executive Director Grace Gallucci promoted sustainable transportation alternatives in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

Meanwhile, Angie Schmitt of Rust Wire criticized the City of Cleveland for the way it implemented its complete streets policy on downtown's Ontario Street. A local coalition developed an alternative, the Ontario Street Bikeway plan, that would add bike lanes to the street. Marc Lefkowitz of GreenCityBlueLake also considered the reasons why the region hasn't built a second bus rapid transit line.

Amy Brennan, Reid Coffman, and Ron Wyss participated in a City Club panel discussion on stormwater issues (MP3, 61.3 MB). The conversation was moderated by NEORSD's Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells, who also answered Fresh Water's questions about the agency's stormwater management program.

In their new book, Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, co-authors Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube "paint a new picture of poverty in America as well as the best ways to combat it." The book explores the reasons behind the growth of suburban poverty in the United States and offers examples of promising policy models to address the issue. Their research presents profiles of metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland (PDF), and they highlight the challenges facing the City of Lakewood. Meanwhile, the Urban Institute posted a mapping tool that displays changes in poverty and race in metropolitan areas between 1980 and 2010.

Recent research from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examined urban decline in Rust Belt cities, and included a closer exploration of the changes in Greater Cleveland. Another report from the Federal Reserve Bank offered an analysis of housing policy "areas that merit careful consideration in Ohio" and "identified some opportunities for Ohio to improve its ability to deal with foreclosed, vacant, and abandoned properties."

The NOACA Governing Board adopted Connections+ 2035, the five-county agency's long-range transportation plan. It "proposes $9 billion in major transportation investments to meet the needs of the traveling public" and emphasizes the need to maintain the region's existing transportation infrastructure. The previous plan was approved in 2009.

Building upon its earlier Dashboard of Economic Indicators, the Fund for Our Economic Future issued its What Matters to Metros report, an analysis of 115 metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2011. It's intended to "help community leaders identify factors that are associated with economic growth in mid-sized U.S. metropolitan areas in a post-recession economy," and noted that "growth is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for America's mid-sized metros." Deborah Hoover of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation said that "the data clearly indicates that it is not enough for our economic strategies to focus merely on job creation."

The 12-county Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium introduced its "business as usual" scenario and hosted a series of public workshops. The "business as usual" scenario presented a vision of how the region would look in 2040 if current development patterns continue. It said that urban sprawl combined with flat population figures would lead to the abandonment of 10.5% of the region's housing stock. Research by Tom Bier of Cleveland State reached a similar conclusion. Nearly 600 people attended the six public workshops, participating in several planning exercises. A Plain Dealer editorial noted that "there's still time to reverse course."

The scenario planning exercise continued with the release of ImagineMyNEO, an interactive tool built on the open-source CrowdGauge framework. It places users in the role of a regional planner, asking them to identify their priorities for the region, select policies and practices, and allot limited resources. The NEOSCC will hold more open houses and workshops later this year.

NOACA conducted an evaluation of its Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative (TLCI) program (PDF). The report examined the program's accomplishments and shortcomings, and made recommendations for improving its effectiveness.

In the annual State of the Air report from the American Lung Association, Cuyahoga County again received an F for its ozone levels, and its grade for 24-hour particulate levels improved to a C. The report ranked the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area as having the nation's 20th-highest levels of year-round particulate pollution, an improvement over last year's 14th-place ranking. The area experienced a spike in the number of poor air quality days in 2012, but both the region and the country generally have seen increases in air quality.

The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt drew connections between a series of seemingly-unrelated headlines to outline the "compelling overall narrative" of Northeast Ohio as a region "at odds with itself as it tries to figure out how to meet the 21st century."

The latest report on job sprawl by Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution said that the recession "helped drive a slight uptick in urban core job share in more than half of the nation's largest metro areas between 2007 and 2010." However, job sprawl was more pronounced in the five-county Greater Cleveland area (PDF) from 2000 to 2010. Of the nation's 100 largest metro areas, Greater Cleveland had the 19th-highest share of jobs located in outer-ring communities.

The Housing Research & Advocacy Center issued two of its yearly reports. The 2013 State of Fair Housing in Northeast Ohio (PDF) said that 2012 was the fourth consecutive year with a decline in the number of housing discrimination complaints, but estimated "that there are annually at least 33,690 instances of housing discrimination" in Greater Cleveland. Its Racial & Ethnic Disparities in 2011 Ohio Mortgage Lending (PDF) report said that "African Americans and Hispanics continue to have limited access to fair and equal credit."

The cities of Westlake and Lakewood continue to advance their bicycle planning initiatives. Westlake's draft Citywide Bike Plan (PDF, 10.3 MB) was approved by the Westlake Planning Commission, and identifies potential on-road and off-road routes for a citywide bicycle network. Lakewood is implementing its Bicycle Master Plan (PDF, 4.7 MB), adopted last year, by introducing a Bike Rack for Business Program and making infrastructure improvements. At the regional level, NOACA recently adopted an update to its Regional Bicycle Transportation Plan (PDF, 71.0 MB).

In this year's County Health Rankings, Cuyahoga County again finished in the bottom third of Ohio's 88 counties, ranking 67th in health outcomes and 45th in health factors. Geauga and Medina counties were again ranked highly. Cuyahoga County health officials are working to improve health issues through the Health Improvement Partnership. Nationally, residents of the unhealthiest counties died at more than twice the rate of those in the healthiest counties. Previous rankings: 2012, 2011, and 2010.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its annual population estimates for counties and metropolitan areas. For the period between July 2011 and July 2012, population shifts returned to pre-recession patterns, with the fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the South and West, and the slowest-growing in the Northeast and Midwest. The Cleveland metropolitan area was the slowest-growing large metropolitan area in the country, and Cuyahoga County's loss of 4,872 people was the nation's second-largest numeric population decline. However, the 0.38% drop in Cuyahoga County was its smallest annual decline in 15 years. Franklin County's 1.38% growth rate was the fastest in Ohio, and Geauga and Medina counties also gained population.

The Gund Foundation's most recent round of grants included $3.75 million for Neighborhood Progress Inc., $250,000 for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, $180,000 for the Cuyahoga Valley Conservancy, and $150,000 for the Nature Conservancy.

A report from the Brookings Institution says that Amtrak ridership grew by 55% between 1997 and 2012, faster than other modes of travel. The report added that nearly all of the growth was on Amtrak's short-distance routes, and that its long-distance routes accounted for 15% of travelers and 43% of operating costs in 2012. Ridership in Greater Cleveland increased by 16.2%, and the two lines that serve Cleveland, the Capitol Limited and the Lake Shore Limited, also experienced ridership growth. However, both lines operated at a loss.

CEOs for Cities looked at the potential for new transit-oriented development in Greater Cleveland, and predicted that in "10-20 years from now Cleveland's rapid transit system will turn some heads while possibly serving as a TOD beacon that helps stabilize the inner city population."

Under new executive director Grace Gallucci, NOACA is developing a regional transportation strategy for the agency's five-county region, and intends to conduct an 18-month inventory of area infrastructure assets and needs. At AMATS, Director Jason Segedy is calling for prioritizing maintenance of the region's existing infrastructure over expansions of highway capacity.

A report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University examined the mobility of young and middle-age adults in Greater Cleveland. It concluded that the young adult population has grown in Cleveland's inner core, some second-tier neighborhoods in Cleveland, and in certain inner-ring suburbs. The Plain Dealer used the research as the basis of a January article, and the paper's Brent Larkin discussed it in the context of population decline.

Steven Litt said that the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium is providing the region with "its best shot in decades to come up with a better vision for a more sustainable future that could also shrink the cost of government," but noted that "time is running out for NEOSCC."

In its annual Urban Mobility Report, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute reported that traffic congestion in the United States increased slightly in 2011. It said that congestion costs the average Cleveland-area commuter (PDF) $642 per year, less than in most large cities.

Streetsblog DC criticized the report, saying that the "authors still haven't made the changes that would make their congestion rankings meaningful in the real world," and Transportation for America said that the "rankings don't really say much about the lives of the people who live in those places." Slate's Matthew Yglesias noted that the most-congested cities were "all big, exciting, prosperous, dynamic cities," while Better Institutions used the report's figures to calculate the savings offered by public transportation.

An ESOP summary of foreclosure rates reports that although the total number of foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County declined in 2012, residential mortgage foreclosures rose from 9,405 in 2011 to 9,905 in 2012. It says that the 5.3% increase means that the "foreclosure crisis is still thriving in Cuyahoga County and many years from fully resolving." Meanwhile, new research from the Federal Reserve Bank said that mortgage delinquencies continue to decline in Ohio, while figures from the Mortgage Bankers Association indicated that levels remain elevated in Greater Cleveland.

A new report from the Western Reserve Land Conservancy examined the status of land conservation in a 14-county Northeast Ohio region. It found that the area has preserved about 7% of its land, well below recommended levels. The report also explored farmland preservation, urban sprawl, and other challenges and opportunities. It concluded that "the need to wisely preserve the best of our undeveloped land has never been more urgent."

By participating in the state's Water Resource Restoration Sponsor Program, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has saved about $3 million in interest on loans, while providing funding for 22 local habitat preservation and restoration projects.

The board of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium selected Sasaki Associates of Boston as the lead consultant for the regional planning initiative. The consulting team will provide planning and project management services, scenario planning, and fiscal impact analyses. Prior to the announcement, Hunter Morrison and Jason Segedy of the NEOSCC described the planning process in a Plain Dealer op-ed, and David Beach of GreenCityBlueLake said that it will be "our best shot in decades to think creatively about the future of our region."

The Ohio & Erie Canalway National Heritage Area awarded $121,000 in grants to eight projects through its Strategic Initiatives program. The awards included $23,000 to University Circle Inc. for development of its planned CircleWalk and $15,000 to LAND Studio for Lake Link Trail design and engineering work.

In January, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will begin assessing fees for its stormwater management program. The average homeowner will pay about $60 per year. NEORSD provides details about the program and offers a fee finder. A group of 11 suburbs are continuing to challenge the program in court and expect that the case eventually will reach the Ohio Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, a federal judge is considering a revised plan for eliminating combined sewer overflows in Akron. The amended consent decree has been approved by the Ohio EPA and the U.S. EPA. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the judge "should be pleased enough with the advances to give his approval."

Update: Kyle Dreyfuss-Wells of NEORSD answered questions about the stormwater management program on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

Greater Cleveland's 2012 ozone season concluded at the end of October. The eight-county area experienced 28 days with elevated ozone levels, twice as many as last year. Officials attributed the increase to high summer temperatures.

A report from the Asian American Center for Advancing Justice presents demographic information and policy recommendations about Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in 12 Midwest states. A Community of Contrasts (PDF) includes a section on the seven-county Greater Cleveland area. Between 2000 and 2010, Asian-Americans were the area's fastest-growing racial group, and represented its only majority foreign-born racial group. Asian Services In Action, Inc. has additional demographic data.

The U.S. EPA awarded Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants for two Greater Cleveland projects, giving $996,902 to the Ohio EPA and $770,250 to the Chagrin River Watershed Partners. The Ohio EPA will use its award to implement green stormwater control practices in Cuyahoga County, and the Chagrin River Watershed Partners will use its for green infrastructure projects in Lake County. Meanwhile, the Healing Our Waters - Great Lakes Coalition issued a report that highlights successful environmental restoration projects in Greater Cleveland.

A report from the U.S. Conference of Mayors (PDF) said that while American metropolitan economies continue to improve (PDF), funding shortfalls are making the nation's transportation infrastructure less competitive. It said that in 2011, the five-county Cleveland metropolitan area's $106.6 billion gross metropolitan product was the 27th largest in the U.S., and about equal to the GDP of Bangladesh. Meanwhile, American Society of Civil Engineers President Andrew Herrmann made similar remarks at the Build Up Greater Cleveland annual meeting, telling attendees that the country needs to invest more in maintaining its infrastructure.

A study of job accessibility by Adie Tomer of the Brookings Institution found that "over three-quarters of all jobs in the 100 largest metropolitan areas are in neighborhoods with transit service" but added that "the typical job is accessible to only about 27 percent of its metropolitan workforce by transit in 90 minutes or less." In the five-county Greater Cleveland area (PDF), the figures were 74.7% and 26.0%, respectively, ranking 42nd and 40th.

The U.S. Department of Justice reached a $175 million fair housing settlement with Wells Fargo Bank to resolve allegations that the bank discriminated against qualified African-American and Hispanic borrowers. The settlement includes $50 million to help neighborhoods in eight metropolitan areas with large numbers of discrimination victims, including Greater Cleveland. The area could receive more than $6 million.

Tom Bier continues to deliver his message about urban sprawl and the need for Cuyahoga County to focus on redevelopment, saying that "the only way it can grow its tax base is to redevelop its old core and renew the old places." Meanwhile, Marc Lefkowitz considered what a national shift in housing preferences means to Northeast Ohio.

"What would cities around Cleveland look like if we grow the number of cyclists from hundreds to thousands traveling on its streets daily?" asked GreenCityBlueLake's Marc Lefkowitz. Meanwhile, Lakewood City Council approved funding to add sharrow markings to Detroit Avenue.

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas J. Pokorny issued his final opinion regarding the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program. At the judge's request, NEORSD made several changes to the program, including increasing the amount of funding returned to communities from 7.5% to 25%. While some communities continue to object, the Sewer District intends to begin implementing the program in January 2013.

The NOACA Governing Board approved changes to the five-county 2012–2015 Transportation Improvement Program, adding 25 projects to the list for federal funding. The projects include the West 73rd Street underpass, part of the West Shoreway redesign, and bus lanes along Clifton Boulevard.

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium launched its Conditions and Trends Platform, a "compilation of research about our region that will allow us to take a collective look at what we are doing as a region and where we seem to be heading." It presents information from the initiative's five work steams for the 12-county Northeast Ohio region, and identified urban sprawl as one of the region's major issues.

The U.S. Census Bureau published population estimates for the nation's incorporated cities and towns. The data covers changes between April 2010 and July 2011. For the first time since the 1920s, population grew faster in the nation's large cities than in their suburbs, with central cities growing at an average of 1.1% and their suburbs at 0.9%, Both the City of Cleveland and its suburbs lost population, with the City shrinking more quickly. Cleveland's population fell from 396,815 to an estimated 393,806, a decrease of 3,009.

Update: population estimates for all Cuyahoga County communities are available.

The Cleveland Foundation announced $19.9 million in grants for a variety of programs, including funding for economic development activities, $150,000 for the intergenerational housing project in Fairfax, and $400,000 for a partnership that will work to leverage Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District investments to make neighborhood improvements. The Storm Water Management Partnership includes LAND Studio, Neighborhood Progress Inc., and the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

Members of a recent panel discussion at the City Club talked about the Global Cleveland initiative and talent attraction efforts (MP3, 51.6 MB).

Update: video of the talk is now available.

NPR's Morning Edition aired a report about downtown Cleveland and the way it is attracting new residents and businesses, and downtown residents later shared their stories on WCPN's Sound of Ideas. Meanwhile, Rob Pitingolo examined some metropolitan area migration trends for Cleveland, Detroit, and Pittsburgh.

In focus group resarch conducted by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clevelanders expressed support for greater investments in public transit.

In its annual National Traffic Scorecard, Inrix reported that traffic congestion decreased by 30% last year in the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Seventy of the metro areas experienced decreases in congestion. It ranked the Greater Cleveland area as having the nation's 62nd-highest level of congestion, with significantly less congestion than a year ago.

NOACA held its annual summit earlier this month and posted video of the event. It featured opening remarks from Board President Ed Jerse, reminiscences by outgoing Executive Director Howard Maier, an update on the NEOSCC from Hunter Morrison, a panel discussion about transportation funding, a keynote address by Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, and the presentation of the Walter F. Ehrnfelt, Jr. Award. NOACA also published a summit report (PDF).

Team NEO and CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs announced a new strategic alliance intended to "enhance the region's economic development research capabilities and knowledge." Daila Shimek will work with both organizations. Team NEO recently reported that it helped persuade 26 companies to expand locally in the first quarter of this year.

Leaders of the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium promoted regional cooperation at a recent conference, shared the feedback they gathered (PDF) at a series of events with young leaders, and released an overview (PDF) of their public opinion survey. The survey found that most Northeast Ohioans support sustainability, although few were able to accurately describe the concept. Satisfaction levels were lower among 18 to 24-year-olds. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the survey "captures welcome signs about a general willingness among residents to change direction." The Consortium has also come under criticism, as board chairman Jason Segedy said that it has yet to address the region's "poor integration between land use and transportation", while Streetsblog's Angie Schmitt questioned its ability to produce meaningful change.

At a recent Northeast Ohio City Council Association meeting, Tom Bier urged Cuyahoga County leaders to focus on redevelopment efforts.

Update: NOCCA posted video of the talk.

Participants on a recent Sound of Ideas program discussed the latest bicycling news in Northeast Ohio. Taryn Gress of the Civic Commons also described many local cycling activities.

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency selected Grace Gallucci as the agency's new executive director. She most recently served as the senior deputy executive director of Chicago's Regional Transportation Authority (PDF) and previously worked at the Greater Cleveland RTA. She will begin work on July 1, succeeding Howard Maier, who is retiring after 23 years at NOACA.

Saying that "much of what [its] founders set out to accomplish is being carried forward by thousands of network participants in their new and existing organizations", Entrepreneurs for Sustainability announced that it will close this spring.

HBO recently aired The Weight of the Nation, a four-part documentary on obesity in the United States, and made the series available online. It highlighted the 24-year disparity in life expectancy between Hough and Lyndhurst. A panel discussed the issues at the Great Lakes Science Center, and the City of Cleveland held its first Healthy Cleveland Summit. Earlier this year, the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods issued a set of three data briefs that describe health trends in Cleveland neighborhoods. A Plain Dealer editorial urged coordinated regional action to promote healthy lifestyle choices.

As anticipated, the U.S. EPA designated an eight-county Greater Cleveland region as a marginal nonattainment area under 2008 federal ozone standards. The area must meet the new limits within three years. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA to declare (PDF) that six Greater Cleveland counties meet 2006 federal fine particulate standards. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on May 21.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about the proposed fine particulate redesignation.

The company that manages the electrical grid from Ohio to the East Coast determined that FirstEnergy's plans to shut down three area coal-fired power plants in September would create reliability problems and that the plants will remain open until April 2015. FirstEnergy's revised plans include the installation of combustion turbines at its Eastlake plant.

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report again gave Cuyahoga County an F for its ozone levels, while the county's grade for particulate pollution improved to a D. Air quality in the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area continued to improve, but was ranked as having the nation's 14th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Nationwide, cities reported the lowest levels of air pollution in the 13-year history of the report.

One year into its three-year timeline, the 12-county Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium is starting to shift from organization and data collection to public engagement around regional planning and urban sprawl. A Plain Dealer editorial highlighted the need for regional unity, while Marc Lefkowitz wondered whether members will create a new vision and inspire action. Stephen Hambley, Hunter Morrison, and Brad Whitehead discussed the consortium on WCPN's Sound of Ideas. The consortium has held several events for young leaders across Northeast Ohio, and will host an event in Cleveland on May 16.

Update: Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal said that "pushing ahead [with regionalism] may be the only option for major metropolitan areas."

Bishop Richard Lennon said that he will not appeal a Vatican decree and that the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland will reopen 12 closed parishes. He did not say when they would reopen. Earlier reports incorrectly said that the ruling covered 13 parishes. Parishioners celebrated his decision and a Plain Dealer editorial said that Bishop "Lennon deserves strong praise for choosing conciliation" over conflict.

Update: NPR's Tell Me More interviewed one of the appellants. Parishioners at the 13th parish, Saint Margaret Mary Church in South Euclid, are appealing to the Vatican.

Cuyahoga County's scores improved slightly in the third annual County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Among Ohio's 88 counties, Cuyahoga County was 65th in heath outcomes and 53rd in health factors. Geauga County and Medina County were among the top-ranked counties in the state. The report also supplied data on nationwide trends.

The U.S. Census Bureau's release of metropolitan area and county population estimates showed a trend of population growth in core counties and decreases in exurban counties. Cuyahoga County's estimated population fell from 1,278,000 in July 2010 to 1,270,294 in July 2011. It was one of only two counties with a population greater than 1 million people to register a decrease. Of Ohio's six large urban counties, only Franklin and Montgomery counties showed growth. The Census Bureau also released Census 2010 Summary File 2 data for Ohio. It includes detailed population and housing data by race and ethnicity.

The Plain Dealer examined how Wal-Mart has transitioned its Greater Cleveland inventory of stores from its traditional model to the supercenter concept. On average, its regular stores are 108,000 square feet, and its supercenters occupy 185,000 square feet. The company is continuing the trend by relocating stores from Cleveland Heights to South Euclid, from Fairlawn to Copley Township, and by expanding its store in Avon.

An article in this week's issue of Scene examined the goals and history of the local food movement in Greater Cleveland and questioned the City of Cleveland's ability to influence the necessary systems.

A group of suburbs continues to oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program. They are appealing a February Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court ruling that upheld the program.

The Congregation of the Clergy reversed the closings of 13 parishes and churches in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. The Vatican panel said that Bishop Lennon had not followed church law or procedures. Boston activist Peter Borre, who advocated on behalf of several parishes, said that the decision was unprecedented. Parishioners urged the Diocese to reopen the churches and discussed the decision on WCPN's Sound of Ideas. Bishop Lennon said that he was reviewing the ruling, and a Plain Dealer editorial said that it's too early to tell how this will end.

The Brunswick Post and Fresh Water recently reported on the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium's planning process.

The U.S. EPA is expected to designate an eight-county Greater Cleveland region as a marginal nonattainment area for new federal ozone standards. The area would have three years to comply with the revised limits. The E-Check program would continue.

Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Thomas Pokorny confirmed that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has the authority to implement a regional stormwater management program and that its associated fee is not unlawful tax. A group of suburbs had challenged the stormwater plans. The judge also determined that Hudson is a member, undoing a decision he made last year.

Update: officials in Summit County hope to reach a compromise.

Kent State University's Center For Public Administration and Public Policy posted a set of eight case studies on intergovernmental collaborations in Northeast Ohio.

Local leaders and citizens celebrated the grand opening of the Global Cleveland Welcome Center last week. Located in 200 Public Square, it's intended to serve as a first stop for all newcomers to the region. Staff at the hub will provide advice, connections to communities, and resources for entrepreneurs. Ken Kovach shared some background information.

NOACA and ODOT have begun the Northeast Ohio Regional Travel Survey, a year-long study of travel patterns in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties. Results from the GPS-based survey will help planners gauge the area's transportation needs. Results will be available next year.

Participants in a recent City Club panel discussion talked about state budget cuts and ways that local governments can achieve efficiencies by sharing services. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Mayor DeGeeter of Parma highlighted his city's participation in regional collaborations.

Update: the latest Civic Commons radio show also explored the subject.

Bike Cleveland hired Jacob VanSickle as the organization's first executive director. Meanwhile, AMATS issued a draft of its its bike plan (PDF) for Portage and Summit counties, and will hold public meetings on February 13 and 14.

Update: the Plain Dealer reported on Jacob VanSickle's new position.

A new report from the Center on Urban Poverty and Community Development at Case Western Reserve University looked at changes in poverty rates in Northeast Ohio communities between 2000 and 2010. The figures reflect rising poverty across the region and the growth of suburban poverty.

Update: the Plain Dealer reported on the poverty figures.

Fresh Water described the nonprofit organizations that collaborate to promote economic development in Northeast Ohio.

NOACA issued its 2009 Crash Report (PDF) in December. It says that the number of crashes in the five-county Greater Cleveland area declined by 24.8% between 2000 and 2009, and identified the intersections that experienced the most crashes from 2007 to 2009. ODOT said that it is working to improve the intersection of Carnegie Avenue and Ontario Street in downtown Cleveland.

The NOACA Governing Board approved the addition of 15 projects to its long-range transportation plan. Eight of the projects are in Cuyahoga County, including the planned redecking of the I-480 bridge in Valley View and Independence.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District submitted its green infrastructure plan to the U.S. EPA on Wednesday. It identifies 20 green infrastructure projects that the sewer district may fund over an eight-year period, as part of its combined sewer overflow control program. The agency will invest at least $42 million in the green infrastructure projects. Federal approval is required for the overall plan but not for individual projects.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $14.9 million in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits for 13 rehabilitation projects. Eight of the projects are in Northeast Ohio, and four are in Cleveland. The Victory Building at Euclid Avenue and East 71st Street received a $4.38 million credit, the Park and Southworth Buildings on Public Square received a $1.98 million credit, the Rialto Theater on West 25th Street received a $484,108 credit, and the Gifford House on Prospect Avenue received a $108,914 credit. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports the tax credit program.

Researchers are the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland examined changes in population densities within metropolitan areas and asked whether they correlated with productivity. They used Greater Cleveland as an example, and said that "evidence suggests that denser MSAs are more productive."

(via Rust Wire)

A 60 Minutes segment looked at the impacts of the housing crisis in Cuyahoga County and at how local governments and residents are responding to foreclosures, abandonment, and underwater mortgages. The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin also described the struggles. Rob Pitingolo said that exurban housing construction and regional population declines contributed to the problems.

Update: Businessweek also looked at the local housing market.

At GreenCityBlueLake, Marc Lefkowitz looked to San Diego for ideas to inform the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium's planning process.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its second annual set of five-year American Community Survey estimates. The release provides detailed socio-economic data covering the period from 2006 to 2010. It showed decreasing household incomes and a growing income gap.

The Fund for Our Economic Future issued its sixth annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators. It "measures the region's economic performance in the context of a slow-growth, fragile, post-recession economy."

WKSU's Kabir Bhatia spoke with Neil Donovan of the National Coalition for the Homeless about homelessness in Northeast Ohio.

From April through October, Greater Cleveland experienced 14 days with elevated ozone levels, close to the annual average of 15.5 days. NOACA staff noted (PDF) that "in general, ozone concentrations have decreased in the long term".

The Center for Community Solutions issued a set of 20 heath, social, and economic indicators for 16 Northeast Ohio counties through its Northeast Ohio Regional Indicators and Objectives initiative.

Update: the Plain Dealer looked at the income inequality indicator and the region's rising disparity.

The board of the Gund Foundation awarded $7,425,902 in grants at its November board meeting. The 75 grants included a two-year $775,000 grant to LAND Studio and a $60,000 grant to Bike Cleveland.

Update: the award will enable Bike Cleveland to hire an executive director.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin attempted to quantify the benefits of reducing automobile usage for short trips in 11 Midwestern metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland. Their findings suggested that "significant health and economic benefits are possible if bicycling replaces short car trips."

(via GOOD)

Researchers at the Brookings Institution analyzed U.S. Census Bureau data and found that concentrated poverty increased over the past decade, and that it nearly doubled in Midwestern metropolitan areas. They added that "the picture today likely looks quite a bit worse than much of [the] report reflects." The five-county Greater Cleveland area saw an 8.0% increase in its concentrated poverty rate and the City of Cleveland experienced a 13.1% increase.

A new paper from PolicyBridge (PDF) draws connections between the social determinants of health in Greater Cleveland and the area's economic competitiveness. It identifies relevant policy areas and makes recommendations for increasing local health and wealth, and says that "recognizing the importance of personal physical and mental well-being to the overall region's economic well-being would be a critical first step toward a more vibrant Northeast Ohio."

The trial on the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's stormwater management program began in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court and is expected to take about three weeks. The sewer district wants to implement fees to support the program, and is opposed by a group of suburbs.

The U.S. Census Bureau published three-year American Community Survey estimates. The release includes data on more than 40 topics. The Plain Dealer used the information to compile statistics on the ethnic backgrounds of residents in Northeast Ohio cities.

In a new report, Transportation for America continued its examination of the condition of bridges by looking at those in the country's 102 largest metropolitan areas. It says that "structurally deficient bridges in metropolitan areas carry a disproportionate share of all trips taken on a deficient bridge each day." In the five-county Cleveland metropolitan area, 11.4% of bridges were rated as deficient, while the two-county Akron metropolitan area had 12.7% of bridges rated as deficient.

NOACA officials warned that potential cuts in federal transportation funding could affect area road construction projects.

A new report from the Brookings Institution examined the increasing use of housing vouchers in suburban areas across the United States. Of the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, the Akron metropolitan area saw the most growth and the Cleveland metropolitan area the 15th-most between 2000 and 2008.

More than 100 people attended the EfficientGovNetwork Regional Collaboration Conference in Akron on Thursday. They learned about practices and policies for increasing intergovernmental cooperation and efficiency.

Update: Adam Harvey shared his notes and reactions from the conference.

Update 2: conference attendees explained their views.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a report on the housing market in the five-county Cleveland metropolitan area. It says that "the housing market in Cleveland remains fragile (PDF) - with low property values, deeply-discounted foreclosed properties affecting neighborhood values, and many severely underwater mortgages."

Participants on a recent Outspoken Cyclist show on WJCU discussed mountain biking in Northeast Ohio, and the conversation on the latest Civic Commons radio show was about bicycling in Cleveland. An article in this month's issue of Cleveland Magazine calls for faster progress in the construction of the Cleveland portion of the Towpath Trail.

The conversation on this morning's Sound of Ideas program was about how local universities are encouraging nearby mixed-use development.

Update: Cleveland Magazine explored the changes to the Cleveland State University campus.

The Texas Transportation Institute issued its annual Urban Mobility Report. It said that too little is being done to address traffic congestion issues and that congestion occurs even in off-peak hours. The study was criticized as being overly automobile-centric. It reported that the average Cleveland driver (PDF) spent 20 hours in traffic jams last year, the same amount it reported for 2009 and 2008.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is finalizing its identification of green infrastructure projects that will be a part of the combined sewer overflow control program. The Green Infrastructure Feasibility Study will include 1,000 acres in 30 projects.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more information about the $42 million program.

In its annual release of American Community Survey statistics, the U.S. Census Bureau published data covering more than 40 topics for 2010, including income, poverty, and educational attainment. Median income declined and poverty rates increased in most of the nation's metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland. Suburban poverty rates continued to rise. The City of Cleveland remained among the nation's poorest large cities.

A new report from Environment America looked at smog figures in American cities. It ranked the five-county Greater Cleveland area as being tied as the 20th-smoggiest metropolitan area in 2010.

Sound barriers along Greater Cleveland highways are deteriorating more quickly than anticipated. The Ohio Department of Transportation spends $5 million per year to repair and replace noise walls statewide. Councilman Mike Polansek of Cleveland said that ODOT made poor choices.

More than 125 people attended the inaugural Bike Cleveland Summit and helped to craft the new organization's vision, principles, and goals. Marc Lefkowitz considered the state of transportation advocacy in Greater Cleveland.

Between 2000 and 2010, the ten least-segregated metropolitan areas in the United States saw greater population growth than the ten most-segregated. The least-segregated metro areas were in the South and West, while the most-segregated (including Greater Cleveland) were in the Midwest and Northeast.

The Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA (PDF) to declare that the seven-county Greater Cleveland area is in compliance with 1997 federal fine particle pollution standards. The state's draft redesignation request and maintenance plan (PDF) is available online, and it will hold a public hearing on September 23 in Twinsburg.

Bob Dyer of the Akron Beacon Journal related a critique of ODOT's implementation of Intelligent Transportation System technologies.

The Community Land Trust of Greater Cleveland will merge with Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland. The land trust will become a program of NHSGC.

Update: Neighborhood Housing Services issued a press release.

As anticipated, Team NEO was selected to coordinate economic development activities for the JobsOhio program in 18 Northeast Ohio counties. Team NEO will expand its staff to manage the additional work, and added 13 new trustees, doubling the size of its board. The Ohio Third Frontier Commission gave $4.1 million to Team NEO for 2012. Mark Kvamme, JobsOhio's chief investment officer, visited Independence to explain the changes to local officials. Channel 3's Tom Beres interviewed Mark Kvamme.

NOACA published its latest freeway travel time study (PDF, 24.0 MB). It identified the sections of area freeways with the greatest traffic congestion. The agency released its last travel time study in 2006 (PDF, 49.8 MB).

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District leaders and a group of suburban mayors were unable to reach an agreement about the fees associated with the District's stormwater management program. A trial will be held on October 31 in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial concludes, "If these cities win their lawsuit, it will mean a big loss for the region. Working with the sewer district is cheaper and smarter in the long run."

Larry Miller, Lubrizol's vice president for human resources, will be the first president of Global Cleveland. He is one of several top executives leaving the company following its acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway, and will start his new job in October.

Building upon their earlier work, researchers at the Brookings Institution examined zero-vehicle households in the United States. In the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas, an average of 90% of those households are in neighborhoods with access to public transit. In Greater Cleveland (PDF), the figure is 88%.

The Plain Dealer used IRS migration data to calculate net population losses and gains from domestic migration in the seven-county Greater Cleveland area.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program discussed Northeast Ohio invasive plant issues. The guest on Tuesday's program was Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority President William Friedman.

Daniel Hartley and Kyle Fee of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland compared changes in population density in the Chicago and Cleveland metropolitan areas between 1950 and 2010. They concluded that "the big question for Cleveland is to what degree population loss at its core is a cause or consequence of its overall population loss."

Four smaller local sewer systems are developing plans to reduce combined sewer overflows. Systems operated by the cities of Avon Lake, Elyria, Euclid, and Lakewood currently discharge 274 million gallons of untreated wastewater per year. The work is addition to the plans of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the City of Akron.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the improvements are worth the expense.

In Canton's Repository, Brad Whitehead of the Fund for our Economic Future wrote about the benefits of government collaboration in Northeast Ohio.

Team NEO submitted a proposal to be one of six regional economic development offices under the JobsOhio program. If accepted, Team NEO would coordinate job attraction and retention efforts over an 18-county Northeast Ohio area. Meanwhile, opponents of JobsOhio asked the Ohio Supreme Court to block funding for the organization until their lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is concluded.

Update: the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on the program.

A new report from Good Jobs First concludes that property tax incentives fueled urban sprawl in the Cleveland and Cincinnati metropolitan areas. It looks at 63 business relocations in the eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area, and says that "by dispersing jobs away from the two urban cores, the relocations contributed to disparities in wealth and opportunity among localities in the regions. They moved jobs away from areas with higher rates of poverty and people of color to more affluent and less racially diverse areas. And by moving mostly to locations that are not served by public transportation, they denied job opportunities to carless workers and denied thousands more any choice about how to get to work."

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the study "adds an important voice to other studies and initiatives, all grounded in the realization that shifting jobs within a region does virtually nothing to advance competitiveness in a global economy." A News-Herald editorial concludes that "Northeast Ohio is better off if community leaders work together to attract new businesses to the region instead of compete against each other for businesses that are already here."

In its US and Canada Green City Index, the Economist Intelligence Unit used nine environmental indicators to rank 27 American and Canadian cities (PDF). Cleveland was ranked 25th (PDF) overall, and received the lowest scores of any city in the buildings, CO2, and land use categories. Kaid Benfield of the Natural Resources Defense Council evaluated the evaluation.

U.S. District Court Judge Donald C. Nugent approved the agreement between the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and federal agencies for addressing combined sewer overflows in the region. NEORSD now can implement the $3 billion consent decree.

Reinventing America's Legacy Cities is a report from the American Assembly of Columbia University. Its strategies were developed by 80 attendees at an April event in Detroit. It "focuses on how America can help legacy cities stem their losses, uplift their communities and their institutions, and harness their assets to help move the nation toward success in the next economy."

A new report from the Brookings Institution "assesses public policies and economic development strategies in eight U.S. metropolitan areas that had a significant specialization in manufacturing in 1980 and lost manufacturing jobs between 1980 and 2005," including the Cleveland area. Cleveland's evolving economy is also one of nine case studies in The Next American Economy, a new book by William J. Holstien.

The Cleveland Foundation announced $18 million in grants, including $3 million to economic development organizations.

NOACA uploaded more videos from its annual summit, in addition to its coverage of Jerry Wray's talk. Part one includes introductory remarks, part two features commentary from Commissioner Hambley of Medina County, and parts three, four, five, and six are a panel discussion about the Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium.

A new study from the Union of Concerned Scientists identified Ohio as one of ten states likely to see significant increases in respiratory problems from rising ozone levels associated with global warming. Meanwhile, Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy expanded upon his earlier premise that ranked Cleveland as the city least vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rust Wire's Kate Giammarise interviewed Al Douglas of the Ontario Centre for Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Resources about its effects on the Great Lakes.

A new report from the Brookings Institution used American Community Survey data to determine the educational attainment of immigrants in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. It says that highly skilled foreign-born workers now outnumber lower-skilled ones, and that the five-county Cleveland (PDF) metropolitan area has a very high concentration of high-skilled immigrants.

By a vote of 4-2, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District approved a series of sewer rate increases over the next five years. Mayors Starr and DePiero dissented. The largest factor in the rate hike is the work to address combined sewer overflows identified in the consent decree with the U.S. EPA. Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of the rate increases in Cleveland and Akron.

Kent State University's Center for Public Administration and Public Policy compiled an inventory of more than 240 intergovernmental collaboration projects in 16 Northeast Ohio counties, and published a list of 105 initiatives. The most popular areas for partnerships were in public safety, public works, and economic development.

Meanwhile, in a Plain Dealer op-ed, Brad Whitehead and Joe Roman describe a regional approach to economic competitiveness. Ohio's proposed budget bill would provide funds to encourage government collaborations. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the final budget should include the incentives, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that the budget asks too much of local governments.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information about the Kent State study.

The Global Cleveland initiative officially commenced with a launch party on Tuesday evening and a day-long summit on Wednesday. The initiative will employ a four-part strategy targeted at strengthening Northeast Ohio by attracting and retaining newcomers. A Plain Dealer editorial supports its goals. The Civic Commons spoke with the initiative's leaders and with summit attendees for its weekly radio show and is hosting continuing discussions.

Guests on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed greenspace conservation in Northeast Ohio.

A new Greater Ohio analysis of Ohio's sales tax patterns and policies concludes that "Ohio's county-based sales tax structure is misaligned with regional shopping trends." It recommends strategies for modernizing the state's taxation system. A short report issued (PDF) by Advance Northeast Ohio puts forward a case for increasing local government collaborations as a method of increasing efficiency.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business and WKSU reported on the Advance Northeast Ohio report. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that communities need more financial support for collaboration initiatives.

In its second Dangerous by Design report, Transportation for America highlights pedestrian safety issues and recommends actions to create safer walking environments. The report examines pedestrian fatality statistics, maps individual pedestrian deaths, and ranks the 52 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. The five-county Cleveland metropolitan area was the nation's second-safest. Meanwhile, the League of American Bicyclists issued its fourth annual Bicycle Friendly State rankings. Ohio was ranked 37th-friendliest.

Northeast Ohio retail developers at the annual International Council of Shopping Centers conference in Las Vegas are focusing on renovations and expansions of existing shopping centers. Stark Enterprises is seeking upscale retailers for the final phase of Crocker Park in Westlake.

The Center for Neighborhood Technology issued an analysis of the Greater Cleveland economy (PDF). It examines regional strengths and weaknesses, and offers a variety of suggestions. CNT published similar reports for Cincinnati and Columbus.

Update: the Plain Dealer highlighted several of the report's recommendations.

The NOACA Governing Board voted to oppose the proposed privatization of the Ohio Turnpike. Members said that it would lead to higher tolls, reduced maintenance, and increased traffic on alternative routes. The Governing Board also adopted the agency's 2012-2015 TIP (PDF).

"Missed Opportunity: Transit and Jobs in Metropolitan America", a new report from the Brookings Institution, compared access to public transit in the nation's 100 largest metropolitan areas. It analyzed how well transit systems connect people to jobs, examining the share of residents served by transit, the share of jobs accessible by transit, and its frequency of service. The five-county Cleveland metropolitan area was ranked 41st, with figures close to (PDF) national averages. Alan Berube said that "transit simply must be part of a successful 21st century metropolitan economy," and Shaun Donovan and Ray LaHood described shifts in federal programs. An interactive map offers detailed information at the block group level.

Prompted by a recent blog post and an online conversation, the discussion on this week's Civic Commons radio show centered on urban sprawl. The participants were Angie Schmitt of Rust Wire and economic development professionals Tim Smith of Brunswick and Ralph Waszak of Richfield.

Marc Lefkowitz wrote about the Healthy Communities Active Transportation Conference & Workshop held earlier this week and the state of local bike planning. Cleveland Bicycle Week 2011 starts on Monday. Meanwhile, a new report from the Pew Charitable Trusts and the Rockefeller Foundation says that most states lack adequate information to accurately evaluate the performance of their transportation networks. Ohio's scores were in the middle.

Update: ODOT posted the presentations from the HCAT conference.

The American Lung Association's 12th annual State of the Air report says that Cuyahoga County's air quality continues to improve, but it again gave the County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The eight-county Cleveland metropolitan area was ranked as having the nation's 12th-highest level of year-round particulate pollution. Previous reports: 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006, 2005, and 2004.

In the fifth report (PDF) in the Paying More for the American Dream series, a group of nonprofits examined mortgage refinance lending in seven metropolitan areas. In the five-county Greater Cleveland area, residents of neighborhoods with large minority populations were denied loans at a much higher rate than homeowners in predominantly white neighborhoods.

Dan Moulthrop and Luke Frazier of the Civic Commons spoke with Cuyahoga County Deputy Chief of Staff Nathan Kelly about the County's recently-announced $100 million economic development fund. The Foundation Center's Cynthia Bailie talked to Christine Amer Mayer of Akron's GAR Foundation about the foundation's involvement in economic development. With the State of Ohio poised to spend $1.4 billion on economic development this year, USA Today compared Ohio's approach with those of other states.

Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Thomas Pokorny ruled that the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District has the authority to implement its stormwater management program, but did not rule on a challenge by several suburban communities. The district filed for a declaratory judgment in January 2010. Judge Pokorny's decision (PDF) removes seven Summit County communities from the program. The Summit County Engineer's Office continues to develop its own stormwater management program.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial encourages communities to work cooperatively instead of through the courts.

The Akron Beacon Journal provides more details about the new Thriving Communities Institute at the Western Reserve Land Conservancy.

After a brief delay, the National Park Service published the Western Reserve Heritage Feasibility Study on Friday. It concludes that the 14-county area is neither suitable nor feasible for national designation. The document is open to public comment through May 5.

In a new paper, Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution used Greater Cleveland as one of three examples of metropolitan areas that are "engaged in practical, smart, and self-starting efforts to grow the economy that are all about pragmatic, bottom-up problem solving at a time when the ills of top-down, business-as-usual economic affairs have become increasingly apparent." Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future presented Northeast Ohio's strategy today at a Brookings Institution event in Washington, D.C.

Participants on last Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed sustainable urban development, and on Thursday talked about the implications of the 2010 Census figures.

This May, Global Cleveland plans to open the Cleveland International Welcome Center in a Euclid Avenue storefront of 200 Public Square, the former BP Building. It will serve as an information and resource center for immigrants and as the headquarters for recruitment efforts. The organization has raised more than $1 million to support the initiative, including $500,000 from Huntington Bank.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution was the keynote speaker at last week's annual meeting of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. He delivered a message (PDF, 13.3 MB) about a vision for the next American economy, and described how it will be based on metropolitan areas and driven by exports.

The second annual County Health Rankings from the University of Wisconsin and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked the health of counties by state. In Ohio, Cuyahoga County again ranked well in health factors and lower in health outcomes. Both rankings were improvements over last year's scores. Geauga and Medina counties appeared near the top of both lists.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial and PBS's The Rundown weblog reflected on the report.

The Plain Dealer compared the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009 population estimates to the 2010 Census figures, and also examined local migration patterns. Cleveland's African-American population is suburbanizing and its Latino population is growing. Racial segregation continues to be an issue.

National media outlets are focusing on population declines in older industrial cities, and Terry Schwarz of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative discussed the subject on the Diane Rehm Show. Terry Schwarz and Brad Whitehead contributed opinion pieces to a set of commentaries in the New York Times. In Shelterforce, Alan Mallach explored how community development corporations are responding to the demographic changes. Greater Ohio's Lavea Brachman looked to Europe for ideas.

Update: WKSU's M. L. Schultze spoke with Kimberly Phillips of the College of William & Mary about local African-American history.

Former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison will be program director for the 12-county Northeast Ohio Consortium for Sustainable Communities. Medina County Commissioner Steve Hambley will serve as the regional planning initiative's chairman and AMATS Director Jason Segedy its vice chairman.

Update: the Medina County Gazette described Commissioner Hambley's role.

Update 2: the Plain Dealer and WCPN have more details.

The Gund Foundation awarded nearly $3.5 million in grants at its March meeting. They include awards of up to $250,000 to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, $180,000 over two years to the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, $100,000 to the GreenCityBlueLake Institute, and $60,000 to the Ohio City Near West Development Corporation.

A group of 12 political, business, and community leaders is urging Governor Kasich to support high-speed rail in Northeast Ohio.

Update: Youngstown's Business Journal published the text of the letter.

U.S. District Judge John Adams rejected the proposed consent decree intended to address Akron's combined sewer overflow issues. A civil trial is now scheduled to begin in his court on May 31. Akron officials say they are "extremely disappointed" and that they will appeal the ruling.

In Greater Cleveland, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will hold a series of public meetings about proposed rate increases that would fund work identified in its combined sewer overflow consent decree. The NEORSD Board of Trustees is expected to vote on the changes in June.

Update: Mayor Plusquellic of Akron held a news conference on Friday. The Akron Beacon Journal summarized his remarks.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the judge should have allowed the City of Akron and the U.S. EPA more time to revise the agreement.

A National Park Service report recommends that a 14-county Northeast Ohio region should not be designated as a National Heritage Area. It concludes that the proposed Western Reserve National Heritage Area is qualifies for the designation, but lacks a coordinating entity. The report will be available on March 28 and will be open to public comment for a month.

Update: the National Park Service will host town hall meetings on March 23 and 24.

Update 2: the Medina County Gazette and Brunswick Post also published articles about the feasibility study.

Fresh Water looked to Pittsburgh for lessons that Clevelanders can incorporate into local efforts to make the city more bicycle-friendly and to improve its bicycle culture.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy will establish Thriving Communities Institute in partnership with former Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis, who will serve as its director. The 14-county initiative is intended to facilitate the "transformation of aging and declining urban areas through troubled mortgage and land vacancy mitigation, land conservation and land reuse in an intentional and integrated manner."

Update: Jim Rokakis spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman about the initiative.

The Fund for Our Economic Future awarded $1.385 million in grants at its meeting last week. The awards include a $500,000 grant to support Northeast Ohio's Sustainable Communities Initiative.

The release of Census 2010 population figures prompted a variety of local responses. Dennis Kucinich attributed Cleveland's population decline to the loss of manufacturing jobs, while Bill Callahan drew connections between the population decrease and foreclosure levels. An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal suggested that "initiatives to rein in expensive sprawl are more important than ever," but a Morning Journal editorial said that "Lorain County needs to capitalize on its growth image".

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial took a more optimistic approach.

The U.S. Census Bureau today published the first set of detailed Census 2010 demographics for Ohio, redistricting data that covers population, race, Hispanic origin, and housing occupancy. Between 2000 and 2010, the population of Cuyahoga County fell by 113,856 to 1,280,122, a decrease of 8.2%. The City of Cleveland's population declined by 17.1% to 396,815, and most of its inner-ring suburbs also lost population. The populations of Cleveland Heights and Euclid each fell below 50,000, putting their status as entitlement communities into question. Lakewood's population remained over 50,000. We have posted population figures for Cuyahoga County communities and will provide other tables soon.

The eight-county Cleveland-Akron CSA's population declined by only 2.2%, as Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, and Portage counties gained population. The City of Columbus grew by 10.6%, but all of Ohio's other major cities saw population decreases. The Census Bureau will release additional data in the coming months.

Update: area newspapers reported on the release, including the Plain Dealer, Akron Beacon Journal, News-Herald, Morning Journal, Chronicle-Telegram, Record-Courier, and the Medina County Gazette. In addition to posting the Cuyahoga County population figures, we posted data and maps on the county's racial distribution, Latino population, and housing occupancy.

Update 2: Ohio's Office of Policy Research and Strategic Planning compiled population data for every county, city, village, and township (PDF) in the state.

Update 3: the Plain Dealer published a corrected population change map.

The annual Inrix National Traffic Scorecard says that average travel times in the United States increased by 10% in 2010, and that several metropolitan areas experienced more congestion than their pre-recession 2007 highs. It ranked the Cleveland MSA as having the nation's 31st-highest level of congestion.

Update: Todd Litman criticized the analysis and the Urban Mobility Report that was released in January.

Monday's flooding destroyed a 104-year-old lowhead dam on the Chagrin River in Gates Mills. It was the last remaining dam between the river's mouth and Chagrin Falls. The storm also damaged the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant in Cuyahoga Heights and led the sewer district to temporarily divert untreated wastewater directly into the Cuyahoga River.

Update: the Gates Mills dam probably won't be rebuilt. Its absence is expected to improve water quality and fish populations.

Update 2: repairs are underway at the Southerly Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Two Northeast Ohio funds received a total of $53 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit allocations, part of the $3.5 billion awarded nationwide. The Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund received $35 million in tax credits and the Northeast Ohio Development Fund received $18 million.

Leaders of local governments, businesses, and nonprofits will serve on the board of Global Cleveland, an initiative scheduled to launch in May. The group seeks to make Cleveland more welcoming to immigrants and to assist immigrants after they arrive. They hope to attract 200,000 immigrants and minorities over the next 20 years.

Update: a Global Cleveland video describes the initiative, and a Plain Dealer editorial backs the effort.

A group of local paddlers is developing a plan for a Cuyahoga River water trail, and held a day-long workshop in Cuyahoga Falls. Officials in Cuyahoga Falls also anticipate that the removal of two dams will create conditions for whitewater rafting.

Participants in the community roundtable on this week's Civic Commons radio show (MP3, 16.3 MB) discussed regional collaboration.

Ohio Authority's Jonathan Sin-Jin Satayathum interviewed Michele Kilroy of the Northeast Ohio Chapter of the United States Green Building Council about sustainable development initiatives in Greater Cleveland.

Update: participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program also discussed green building in Northeast Ohio.

The Housing Research & Advocacy Center prepared an analysis of the occupancy codes of communities (PDF) in six Greater Cleveland counties. The report "examines limits on the total number and configuration of residents allowed in dwellings" and its data was "collected to make the varied requirements easily referenced and comparable."

Civic Economics and the American Booksellers Association issued the Indie City Index, a comparison of the strength of independent retailers by metropolitan area. It assigned a score to each metropolitan area in the United States. Of the 363 metropolitan areas, the Cleveland MSA was ranked 356th, earning the lowest score among metropolitan areas with populations between 1 and 3 million.

Willoughby Mayor Dave Anderson explained why he does not support the Regional Prosperity Initiative to Dan Moulthrop of the Civic Commons. On Thursday, the Levin College Forum will host discussions about regional collaboration.

Update: participants on Thursday Sound of Ideas program also talked about regional planning.

Update 2: Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder addressed attendees at the CSU forum, and Dan Moulthrop spoke with Richfield Mayor Mike Lyons, one of the event's panelists.

Update 3: the Levin College Forum posted a summary of the event, and the Civic Commons radio show addressed the subject (MP3, 16.3 MB).

The Texas Transportation Institute published the 2010 Urban Mobility Report, which states that traffic congestion in 2009 began to rise as the economy improved. Drivers in Greater Cleveland (PDF) continued to experience one of the lowest average delay times of the nation's large urban areas. CEOs for Cities issued a critique of earlier reports' methodologies in September, and said that the 2010 report "continues to present an exaggerated and incorrect picture" of urban transportation issues.

Update: the Plain Dealer looked at the report.

Decades of road salt usage has changed the habitat of Northeast Ohio roadsides, creating areas where invasive halophytes can thrive. Stream and groundwater contamination is also a concern.

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability founder and president Holly Harlan announced that she will step down on February 15 in order to "have more time to explore new opportunities to create prosperity and improved quality of life for all." Mike Dungan will serve as interim executive director.

Jeff Opperman of the Nature Conservancy ranked 50 major U.S. cities (PDF) by their vulnerability to climate change. He found that Cleveland was least likely to experience negative repercussions, while Miami was the most vulnerable.

Economist and blogger Chris Briem described how Northeast Ohio and Southwestern Pennsylvania are interconnected and asserted that "in many ways it already functions as a single region." The Cleveland-to-Pittsburgh area is also the focus of the Regional Learning Network and the Tech Belt initiative.

The Plain Dealer's Joe Frolik reflected on the past year, and thinks that "in 10 years, we will look back on 2010 as the year that Cleveland turned the corner and began to regain its status as a vibrant American city." Steven Litt described the year's architecture highlights, while GreenCityBlueLake summarized the major sustainability stories, and the Cleveland Heights Bicycle Coalition listed the top bicycling news.

Writing about the recent Brookings Institution report and summit, columnist Neal Peirce described Greater Cleveland as one of several metropolitan areas that have "devised ingenious recovery strategies."

"Immigration: Path to Prosperity or Calamity?" (PDF) is the newest report from PolicyBridge. Among other immigration policy recommendations, it says that "Encouraging population growth in Ohio - and Cuyahoga County, specifically - through immigration must be an imperative to offset the outflow of residents to other parts of the country. Regardless of ethnic background, the emphasis must be on attracting new residents to the state and region."

Update: a Plain Dealer article looked at the local African-American community's evolving opinions about immigration.

Northeast Ohio communities may soon see a dramatic rise in the number of new natural gas wells. Portage County saw 101 natural gas leases filed in the first half of 2010, and 1,125 have been filed thus far in the second half of the year. Stark County saw 160 in the first half and 836 to date in the second.

Other cities have lessons for Northeast Ohio:

Update: the Detroit Free Press reported on the trip to Leipzig and Manchester.

The new American Community Survey five-year estimates have elicited a range of interpretations:

The U.S. Census Bureau published its first set of five-year American Community Survey estimates. The release includes information about smaller units of geography and topics that were previously only available through the decennial census. It covers 72 topics for the period between January 1, 2005 and December 31, 2009. The estimates show a country that continues to become more urbanized and more integrated, although segregation remains an issue. They also reveal a variety of details about Greater Cleveland. The Census Bureau will issue new five-year ACS estimates every year, and will release the first data from the 2010 Census on December 21.

The NOACA Governing Board approved $9 million in Transportation Enhancement funding for 17 bicycle and pedestrian projects in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties. Nine Cuyahoga County initiatives will share about $5 million: projects in the Flats, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Larchmere, Lyndhurst, Mayfield Village, Tremont, University Circle, and the Warehouse District. In Summit County, AMATS approved two $50,000 grants through its new Connecting Communities Planning Grant Program.

Update: the Sun Press described the Larchmere project.

The Gund Foundation awarded $8 million in grants, which included a $100,000 grant to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Food Policy Coalition and $70,000 to the Trust for Public Land. The Fund for Our Economic Future announced a $50,000 grant to the Regional Prosperity Initiative.

Local wind turbine initiatives have been highlighted in the media:

By a vote of 5-2, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District approved an agreement with the U.S. EPA that lays out a 25-year plan for addressing combined sewer overflows. The board may vote in January on rate increases to fund the $3 billion program. Other cities across the country have reached similar deals with the EPA.

Update: David Beach posted his comments.

The new Cleveland Hazecam provides a live image of Cleveland's skyline every 15 minutes. It's intended to increase public awareness of local air quality issues and their health impacts.

The board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is scheduled to vote on Thursday on whether to accept an agreement with the U.S. EPA. The agreement covers plans to reduce combined sewer overflows over the next 25 years. Proposed rate increases will not be a part of the vote. A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the board to ratify the agreement, using Akron's experience as an example of the alternative.

Update: the Plain Dealer described its projected impacts on sewer rates.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the Soul of the Community survey and what makes people attached to their cities. Tuesday's program was devoted to a discussion about the future of Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.

Update: Neotropolis also looked at the Soul of the Community survey.

Northeast Ohio experienced 15 days with elevated ozone levels in 2010, an increase over recent years. Average ozone levels over the three-year period were an improvement over the previous three-year period for most Northeast Ohio counties, but not enough to meet anticipated new federal standards.

As the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority begins its strategic planning process, a consultant prepared an economic impact study. It says that the port directly or indirectly contributes to more than 10,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic activity (PDF).

A study by the U.S. General Accounting Office identified Ohio and Greater Cleveland as being among the areas that have experienced the most bank walkaways. It recommends that federal agencies should require mortgage servicers "to notify borrowers and communities when foreclosures are halted and to obtain updated valuations for selected properties before initiating foreclosure." Sherrod Brown said that the practice exacerbates neighborhood blight.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial called the report "a welcome first step, but still just a beginning."

A mistake by an Ohio Department of Transportation engineer has delayed the agency's Greater Cleveland launch of Intelligent Transportation System technologies by a month and a half. ODOT now hopes to have the system operating in December.

Update: the first message boards are now operating.

The Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan was unveiled on Saturday at the Northeast Ohio Local Food Mini-Congress. It includes an analysis of the current state of the local food system and proposes that within 10 years, local production could supply 25% of Northeast Ohio's food needs. The document then offers more than 50 recommendations for meeting that goal. Michael Shuman, one of the plan's authors, will present its findings at the City Club on Tuesday.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake and Crain's Cleveland Business provided more information about the plan, and the City Club posted audio of Michael Shuman's talk (MP3, 52.2 MB).

At the Urbanophile, Aaron Renn used U.S. Census Bureau and IRS data to separate domestic migration statistics into in-migration and out-migration figures. He found that several Midwestern metropolitan areas, including Greater Cleveland, did not have disproportionally high out-migration rates, but did experience very low in-migration rates.

Meanwhile, Professor David Barnhizer wrote in a Plain Dealer op-ed that Cleveland needs to make itself more attractive to high-skilled international immigrants. The Knight Foundation and Gallup recently completed the Soul of the Community survey, a three-year study of community attachment in 26 American cities. One of its findings in Akron was that new residents felt more attached to the city than residents who had lived there longer.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District shared details about its proposed agreement with the U.S. EPA. The documents describe plans to spend $3 billion over 25 years to address combined sewer overflow problems and specify the speed at which sewer rates would rise. Some Clevelanders oppose the agreement. The plans will be presented to the agency's board on November 18, and the board is expected to vote on the plan on December 2.

Mayor Akers of Pepper Pike recently spoke in Shaker Heights about the Regional Prosperity Initiative. He described it as "connecting existing systems of collaboration."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan described the federal Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program and its recent $4.25 million grant for regional planning in Northeast Ohio. Columnist Neal Peirce highlighted the Northeast Ohio award and said that the grant program shows how federal government can be made more efficient and effective through cross-department collaborations.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is holding a series of public meetings to explain its plans to address combined sewer overflow problems and the associated rate increases. The first meeting was held on Thursday in South Euclid, and NEORSD tweeted updates from the event. The program, dubbed Project Clean Lake, is facing opposition from Summit County officials. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "regional approach makes the most sense."

Tim Donovan of Ohio Canal Corridor spoke at the City Club last week (MP3, 54.1 MB) about the Ohio & Erie Canalway and the Towpath Trail.

Living Cities announced that it will provide at least $80 million to five cities, including Cleveland, through its new Integration Initiative. Over the next three years, Living Cities will invest $14.75 million in Cleveland, with much of it supporting new worker-owned cooperatives and initiatives in the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. Cleveland was named a finalist in April.

Update: guests on The Takeaway talked about the awards.

Update 2: a Plain Dealer editorial praised the initiative.

Research conducted by the Brookings Institution and the Reinvestment Fund examined access to supermarkets in 10 metropolitan areas, including Cleveland. In the Cleveland MSA (PDF), they found that 11.3% of the population lives in areas with poor access to supermarkets. Results of the analysis for the 10 profiled areas and for the entire nation are available at the Reinvestment Fund's PolicyMap.

Northeast Ohio was one of 45 areas selected for funding through HUD's $100 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program. The consortium of 21 entities from 12 counties was awarded $4.25 million to "develop a cooperative regional plan to address housing, transportation, environmental impact and economic development for Northeast Ohio." The consortium consists of MPOs, housing authorities, and county and city governments, plus the Levin College of Urban Affairs, the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and the Fund for Our Economic Future, which helped to fund and organize the application.

"Designing a Better Cleveland" is a new booklet written by Steven Litt and published by the Cleveland Public Library and Cleveland Public Art. An outgrowth of last year's Lockwood Thompson Dialogues, it's meant to be "a call to action and a mini-primer on the ways in which citizens, developers, planners and designers can raise standards of civic design in Cleveland." Electronic copies (PDF) are available online, and paper copies can be obtained from Cleveland Public Art.

Architect Chuck Miller of Doty & Miller makes suggestions for ways that environmentalists and historic preservationists can successfully work together instead of talking past each other.

The Brookings Institution prepared two analyses of metropolitan poverty. They found rising levels of suburban poverty and growing overall poverty rates in the country's 100 largest metropolitan areas. In the five-county Cleveland MSA, the estimated poverty rate increased by 2.6% between 2007 and 2009, rising to 15.3%.

Participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the plans and the costs for addressing combined sewer overflows, both in Greater Cleveland and Akron.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District officials say they are close to reaching an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to address combined sewer overflow problems. Sewer rates would increase substantially, beginning in 2012. The final settlement could be announced by November.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau published data from the 2009 American Community Survey, and the release reflects the major impacts of the recession. Figures are available for areas with a population of at least 65,000. In Northeast Ohio and across the United States, median household incomes declined and poverty rates rose. The City of Cleveland's estimated 35.0% poverty rate was second-highest in the nation, trailing only Detroit.

The Chicago-based Center for Neighborhood Technology continues to advance its BUILT in Ohio initiative, and recently convened stakeholders in Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus to discuss smart growth policies.

The 12 Cuyahoga County suburbs that are challenging NEORSD's stormwater management program jointly issued a statement. It characterizes the program as an "involuntary tax disguised as a fee."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial criticizes the cities' decision to fight the program.

As University Hospitals nears the completion of its Vision 2010 plan, the Plain Dealer examined the $1.2 billion expansion project. Its two largest components, the $298 million Ahuja Medical Center in Beachwood and the $250 million cancer hospital in University Circle will open next year.

At Streetsblog Capitol Hill, Angie Schmitt described how decades of urban sprawl have damaged Greater Cleveland and the small hope offered by the Northeast Ohio application for a federal regional planning grant.

"Why does the Northeast Ohio region's new stormwater management program have a dozen suburbs fit to be tied?" asks Marc Lefkowitz.

A new study by the Boston-based Clean Air Task Force quantified the health problems (PDF) caused by fine particle pollution from the nation's coal-burning power plants. It ranked Ohio as having the second-highest number of adverse health impacts, trailing only Pennsylvania. For metropolitan areas, the Cleveland MSA ranked eighth-highest. Power companies and the coal industry dispute the group's findings.

Update: the Statehouse News Bureau's Jo Ingles spoke with Nolan Moser of the Ohio Environmental Council about the study.

The Center for Community Solutions and Cleveland State University jointly published An Analysis of Health Disparities in Northeast Ohio (PDF). They found that "African Americans, and to a lesser extent, Hispanics, have significantly poorer health status, access to care and health care utilization than do Whites" in the eight-county Greater Cleveland area. Earlier this year, the Cuyahoga County Board of Health released an update of its Child and Family Health Services Indicators Report (PDF). It includes an analysis of maternal and child heath indicators for each community in the county.

The German Marshall Fund's Cities in Transition Initiative is "a three-year project designed to build a sustained network of leading policymakers and practitioners" in Cleveland, Detroit, Flint, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown. Greater Ohio is participating in the project, which will be launched in October at a one-day meeting in Detroit.

A coalition of 20 Northeast Ohio stakeholders submitted an application for a regional planning grant from the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation filed $259 million in grant requests through the federal TIGER II program, including a request for $12.3 million to develop a statewide electric vehicle readiness plan. None of ODOT's 12 projects are specific to Cuyahoga County.

This summer's hot weather has led to more days with poor air quality. There have been 11 ozone action days in Northeast Ohio so far this year, compared to three in 2009. There have also been three days with elevated particulate levels.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN featured a spirited debate about municipal revenue sharing and the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative. The guests were Medina County Commissioner Stephen Hambley, Aurora Mayor Lynn McGill, and Professor Tom Bier, who recently wrote an op-ed about ideas for improving Northeast Ohio's older cities.

Because of the unresolved legal challenge, the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District indefinitely delayed implementing its stormwater management program and impervious surface fee. The sewer district's board approved the program in January. It was initially scheduled to begin in July, and was later postponed until October. Sewer district officials hope to start the program later this year.

Cleveland's OneCommunity received a $44.8 million federal stimulus grant to expand its fiber optic network in 27 Northeast Ohio counties. The award will fund 64% of a nearly $70 million project that will add about 1,000 miles of new cable, including 111 miles in Cuyahoga County.

Citing reduced demand and proposed federal regulations, FirstEnergy announced plans to reduce operations at four of its smaller coal-fired power plants in Ohio. The changes include plans (PDF) to temporarily idle the Lake Shore Plant in Cleveland and to operate the Eastlake Plant only during the summer and winter.

Turning the Tide (PDF), a new report from the Healing Our Waters Campaign, says that between January 2009 and January 2010, combined sewer overflows in Buffalo, Cleveland, Detroit, Gary, and Milwaukee discharged 41 billion gallons of untreated sewage and stormwater into the Great Lakes. The report recommends upgrading sewer systems and increasing implementation of green infrastructure techniques, and calls on Congress to fund the improvements.

This week's issue of Scene looks at the growth of the urban agriculture and local foods movements in Cleveland. The Northeast Ohio Local Food System Assessment is calculating the economic impacts of shifting to local food.

A group of Summit County elected officials is urging property owners to refuse to pay the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's planned impervious surface fee. NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia defended the stormwater management program (PDF) and said that the officials were acting irresponsibly.

Update: participants on Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the issues. The Akron Beacon Journal also published an editorial on the subject.

Update 2: A Plain Dealer editorial criticizes the Summit County officials.

The conversation on today's Sound of Ideas program was about the plans for a Lake Erie wind farm and for encouraging the local wind turbine industry. The guests were Lorry Wagner of LEEDCo, Rebecca Bagley of NorTech, and George Sterzinger of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, who recently wrote an op-ed in which he described how the federal government could support the initiative.

Kent State University named Douglas Steidl as the dean of its College of Architecture and Environmental Design, and Terry Schwarz as director of the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative. She had been serving as its interim director since last fall.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development ended a program that allowed local governments and nonprofits to take control of foreclosed houses. Cleveland officials were surprised and disappointed by its termination, and Dennis Kucinich asked HUD to reverse its decision.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial is critical of HUD's actions.

The Chagrin Solon Sun summarized former Nashville Mayor Bill Purcell's recent talk at South Franklin Circle (DOC) about regionalism.

Richard Herman believes that Cleveland leaders need to view the local immigrant community as a valuable resource when pursuing foreign direct investment. Meanwhile, a group of foreign investors committed $20 million to the Flats east bank project through the Cleveland International Fund.

Update: A Plain Dealer editorial says that the investment "is good news for Greater Cleveland -- on many fronts."

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2009 municipal population estimates, the final set of estimates to be based on Census 2000 data. The City of Cleveland's population fell to 431,363, with an estimated loss of 2,658 people between July 2008 and July 2009. The 0.61% rate of decrease was lower than the estimated decreases of recent years. While most Cuyahoga County communities lost population, many communities in the surrounding six counties gained population. The City of Avon grew by an estimated 52% between 2000 and 2009.

Steve Hoffman of the Akron Beacon Journal was disappointed by the modest scope of the government collaborations in the recently-concluded EfficientGovNow competition. He believes that revenue constraints will compel more intergovernmental cooperation, and that "for some smaller units, survival may well depend on their willingness to collaborate."

Today's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of natural gas drilling and the risks it entails.

The discussion on today's Sound of Ideas program was about policy changes to support bicycling and walking in Greater Cleveland. Panelists also discussed the plans to complete the Cleveland segments of the Towpath Trail.

The Los Angeles Times looked at how the Cleveland Catholic Diocese's parish consolidations and church closures are impacting Northeast Ohio's ethnic communities.

More Greater Cleveland residents and businesses are installing rain barrels and rain gardens, for environmental reasons and to qualify for a reduction in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's impervious surface fee. The City of Cleveland's Office of Sustainability will launch its annual summer rain barrel program on June 21.

The National Park Service will hold a second round of five town-hall meetings on the Western Reserve Heritage Feasibility Study. One meeting will be in Cuyahoga County, on June 22 at the Sleepy Hollow Golf Course clubhouse in Brecksville.

On Wednesday, the Fund for Our Economic Future announced the winners in the second round of the EfficientGovNow program. The projects that received the most votes were the land bank for Mahoning County, 911 dispatch for Stark County, and the renewable energy SID in Cuyahoga County. The Fund also chose to fund a multi-county GIS cooperative. The four projects will share $331,420 in grants. Voters cast more than 17,400 ballots.

Update: Channel 3 described the Renewable Energy Special Improvement District in Cuyahoga County, while editorials in the Repository and Plain Dealer praised the competition.

Bill Purcell, the former mayor of Nashville, spoke about regionalism and city-county consolidations at South Franklin Circle in Chagrin Falls. He also spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland's eighth annual housing policy summit called for "re-examination of that cornerstone of the American Dream: owning a home." It featured panel discussions where experts said that the nation's housing crisis is not over, asserted that new ideas are needed, and discussed methods for preventing a reoccurrence.

Update: the Wall Street Journal's James Hagerty summarized one of the talks.

Panelists at yesterday's Creative Voices Summit discussed ways to use creativity to improve communities and encourage economic development. Richey Piiparinen recapped the event at GreenCityBlueLake.

Update: CEOs for Cities shared some observations.

A new report by Becky Gaylord (PDF) for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland explores why and how Greater Cleveland should encourage immigration, and presents 31 strategies that could be used to support immigration.

Building a Better Bridge (PDF) is a new policy brief from Policy Bridge. It makes recommendations for increasing social capital by creating sustained opportunities for public engagement from diverse constituent groups.

The Maltz Family Foundation donated $50,000 to the effort to establish an international welcome center in Cleveland. It's the first foundation support for the initiative.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial cheered the announcement.

The June issue of Cleveland Magazine includes a profile of ParkWorks Executive Director Ann Zoller, an essay on the breakwall at the East 55th Street Marina, and a map illustrating grant awards in the Ohio and Erie Canal National Heritage Corridor.

Representatives of each of the 10 finalists in the EfficientGovNow competition described their projects on the Sound of Ideas this morning. The Mahoning County Land Bank project continues to lead the voting, which concludes on May 31.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial praises the initiative.

GreenCityBlueLake reported on the recent "Rebuilding the Cities that Built America" conference in Youngstown, and the Vindicator summarized Dan Kildee's remarks.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District postponed implementation of its new stormwater management program until at least October. The district had intended to impose an impervious surface fee in July, but agreed to the delay because of an ongoing legal challenge.

Update: the Plain Dealer supplied additional information.

The Plain Dealer has more details about the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to grind rumble stripes along the edge lines of state routes.

A new paper by Alan Mallach of the Brookings Institution looks at the "challenges facing America's distressed older cities," examines the "role and influence of federal policy on these cities" and "offers a set of specific recommendations for how the federal government can help." A second paper by Alan Mallach and Lavea Brachman focuses on Ohio and suggests changes in state policy.

This week is Cleveland Bicycle Week, and a variety of events are being held across Greater Cleveland. The Plain Dealer reported on the City of Cleveland's bicycle parking requirements and the plans for the downtown Cleveland bicycle station.

A new multi-state report (PDF) by a coalition of seven organizations examined the lending patterns of four large national banks in seven metropolitan areas. It found that between 2006 and 2008, prime mortgage lending decreased disproportionately in minority neighborhoods. In Cleveland, prime purchase and refinance lending fell by 42.7% in predominately white neighborhoods and 68.5% in minority neighborhoods.

Backers of the 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative recently presented its regional planning and tax-base sharing concepts to local officials at a meeting in Fairview Park. The Initiative was also the subject of a debate in Hudson.

Update: organizers delivered a similar message in Shaker Heights.

Update 2: a Sun News editorial supports the initiative.

As of Wednesday, the Mahoning County Land Bank project was leading the voting in the EfficientGovNow program. The 10 competing finalists are promoting their entries to potential voters. In Cuyahoga County, the Sun Press described the solar power project, while the Sun Star Courier wrote about the road salt project.

The State of Metropolitan America is a new report from the Brookings Institution. It "focuses on the major demographic forces transforming the nation and large metropolitan areas in the 2000s" and says "that our nation faces five 'new realities,' currently redefining the country." It also sorts the country's metropolitan areas into seven categories, placing the Cleveland MSA in the Industrial Core classification, which it describes as "in some ways the most demographically disadvantaged of the metropolitan types." Local leaders and academics expressed concern about the demographic trends.

Update: the News-Herald backs the report's recommendations.

The Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh Regional Learning Network will hold a conference in Youngstown on May 21. Titled "Rebuilding The Cities That Built America," it will feature workshops, speakers, and other events. Hunter Morrison wrote about the megapolitan area that some call the Tech Belt.

The Regional Prosperity Initiative's tax base sharing proposal has its supporters and detractors. WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with a backer and a critic.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's implementation of Intelligent Transportation System technologies will include traffic cameras and sensors. The $22 million system should be in place along Greater Cleveland highways by October.

Public voting in the second round of the EfficientGovNow competition began on Saturday and will continue through May 31. Two of the 10 finalists are projects in Cuyahoga County: a solar power project in Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs, and a road salt collaboration for four south side suburbs.

The American Lung Association's annual State of the Air report shows that the air quality in Cleveland and other Midwestern cities has improved, but that pollution levels remain dangerously high. Greater Cleveland was ranked as having the country's 19th-worst year-round particulate pollution, an improvement over last year. Cuyahoga County again received failing grades for its its levels of ozone and particulate pollution.

About 62% of Cleveland households mailed back their 2010 Census forms, and the statewide return rate was 76%. Both figures were slightly below 2000 levels. The national response rate was 72%. Census takers will start visiting nonrespondents on May 1.

On Tuesday, Jeff Heinen, Mary K. Holmes, and Doug Katz participated in a discussion about local food systems at the City Club (MP3, 53.0 MB).

There are now 27 proposals for governmental collaborations in the second round of the EfficientGovNow grant program. The Fund for Our Economic Future will announce the finalists on April 30 and public voting will begin on May 1.

A recent trip to Indianapolis prompted Steven Litt to consider lessons that Cleveland could learn from its Midwestern neighbor.

Backers of a proposed Cleveland international welcome center are developing strategies for attracting international immigrants to the area.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland's leaders must support the concept. Participants on Channel 3's Between the Lines also discussed the subject.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District is gathering feedback from local communities on the draft guidelines for its stormwater management program.

Update: NEORSD posted the draft stormwater fee credit policy manual.

The Ohio Department of Transportation installed its first three Greater Cleveland traffic cameras as part of its introduction of Intelligent Transportation System technologies. The webcams are available at Buckeye Traffic.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual county population estimates say that Cuyahoga County's population fell by 7,171 people between July 2008 and July 2009. The decrease of 0.56% was smaller than in previous years, but Cleveland State's Tom Bier believes that outmigration will increase once the economy improves. The eight-county Cleveland CSA lost an estimated 2,990 residents over the same period. Many of the decade's fastest-growing counties were in Texas.

Update: the Plain Dealer looked at the trends.

Organizers of the EfficientGovNow program disqualified 19 of the submitted abstracts, and the backers of the 31 remaining projects will be invited to submit final proposals.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program was devoted to a discussion of stormwater and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's contentious stormwater management program. At GreenCityBlueLake, Marc Lefkowitz says that "we should give the new stormwater program a chance."

The Cleveland Foundation's latest round of awards includes grants to WIRE-Net, Neighborhood Progress Inc., the Cleveland Housing Network, and the Downtown Cleveland Alliance.

Update: the Plain Dealer offers more information.

Author Richard Herman asserted that "immigration provides the only way for cities like Cleveland to generate the kind of numbers needed to make up for decades of mass out-migration." NEOtropolis explored some of the concepts of his book, and this week's issue of Scene made similar points. A recent Plain Dealer editorial urged local leaders to open an international welcome center.

The first Greater Cleveland Trails & Greenways Conference will take place on June 7 in Middleburg Heights. Registration opens on April 12.

Marc Lefkowitz considered the challenges that Greater Cleveland could face when applying for grants from the federal Sustainable Communities Initiative.

A group of commercial property owners and developers may challenge the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's authority to implement its new impervious surface fee. When the NEORSD board voted to adopt the stormwater management program, they also asked the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to issue a declaratory judgment. The group represented by attorney Sheldon Berns may attempt to intervene. The Sewer District has also increased its advertising budget in recent years.

Update: the group of 21 parties filed a motion in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court. Judge McMonagle will decide whether they can participate in the case.

The NOACA Governing Board approved a resolution that urges the U.S. EPA to set achievable ozone standards. In January, the federal agency announced its intention to tighten the ozone limit. It is expected to finalize its decision in August.

As the U.S. Census Bureau prepares to start mailing 2010 Census forms, the Plain Dealer highlighted the importance of obtaining an accurate count in Northeast Ohio. A recent Sound of Ideas program was also devoted to a discussion of the subject.

Update: the Census Bureau is encouraging households to complete and mail back their census forms, and a Plain Dealer editorial says that "a failure to tabulate everyone will ripple negative effects."

Because Summit County leaders have filed legal challenges to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's new stormwater management program, the Sewer District may withdraw its sponsorship of conservation projects in northern Summit County.

Update: the Hudson Hub Times has more details.

Update 2: the Sewer District will not pull its support for the projects.

A group of Northeast Ohio public health and medical professionals recently met in Akron to discuss the findings (PDF) of the County Health Rankings report. Their next step will be to develop strategies for improving community health outcomes.

WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with organizers and applicants in round two of the EfficientGovNow regionalism program, and Bob Paynter classified the 50 applications. The finalists will be announced on April 30 and public voting will occur in May.

The Gund Foundation made a $3.6 million, three-year grant to Neighborhood Progress, Inc. The foundation also awarded grants to the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, the GreenCityBlueLake Institute, and the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy.

The new signs for the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway will be officially unveiled on Tuesday morning in a ceremony at West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. About 320 signs will be installed along the 110-mile corridor.

Local governments in the 16-county Northeast Ohio region submitted 50 projects in the second round of the EfficientGovNow grant program. Sixteen of the applications are from Cuyahoga County communities, including a proposal from Moreland Hills, Orange Village, and Pepper Pike that would fund implementation of a forthcoming municipal collaboration study.

Update: organizers encourage public input on the project ideas.

Vicky Poole and Jack Hamilton have begun operating Gardens Under Glass, a hydroponic garden in the Galleria at Erieview in downtown Cleveland. The project is funded by a $30,000 start-up grant from the Civic Innovation Lab. Meanwhile, panelists on NEOtropolis discussed food policy and access to fresh foods.

Update: Fast Company also reported on the Galleria.

Traffic congestion and travel times increased nationally in 2009, according to the annual Inrix National Traffic Scorecard. Congestion levels decreased in 2008 and reached their low point in spring 2009 before starting to rise again. The worst bottleneck in the Cleveland metropolitan area was the I-90 westbound interchange at Chester Avenue.

Northeast Ohio governments have so far submitted five projects in the second round of the EfficientGovNow program. The application deadline is February 26. Journalist Bob Paynter will be writing about the process.

A new report from the University of Wisconsin's Population Health Institute and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation ranked health outcomes and health factors in the United States by county for each state. In Ohio, Geauga and Medina counties were among the state's healthiest. Cuyahoga County ranked highly in clinical care, but poorly in morbidity, social and economic factors, and physical environment.

Update: the report was the subject of a Sound of Ideas program on WCPN.

The U.S. Census Bureau classified much of Cleveland as a "hard to count" (PDF) area for the 2010 Census. One of the Bureau's Portrait of America Road Tour vehicles is visiting locations in Northeast Ohio.

WKSU looked at biomimicry initiatives across Northeast Ohio. Jeff St. Clair spoke with Biomimicry Guild co-founder Janine Benyus, among others.

The Plain Dealer explored the reasons behind the Cleveland Foundation's decision to greatly reduce its contributions to the Fund for Our Economic Future and the choice's subsequent repercussions. Brent Larkin thinks that the decision was harmful to regional collaboration.

A new report from the Brookings Institution shows the growth in suburban poverty between 2000 and 2008. Poverty levels in the suburbs of the nation's largest metropolitan areas increased almost five times faster than the levels of core cities. The unemployment rate also rose more quickly in the suburbs. In the Cleveland metro area, the share of the poor living in the suburbs grew by 9.3%, the second-largest increase in the nation. An earlier report examined the changes from 1999 to 2005.

Update: WKSU's Jeff St. Clair interviewed Elizabeth Kneebone, the report's author.

Participants on yesterday's Sound of Ideas program discussed investments in public spaces, focusing on the concepts for redesigning Cleveland's Public Square. The page also includes an interview with architect Peter van Dijk about the restoration of the Soldiers and Sailors Monument on Public Square.

Area communities reacted differently to the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's new stormwater management program. Mayor Cicero of Lyndhurst was disappointed, and the City of Hudson may join Summit County's lawsuit against the sewer district. Mayor Elliott of Brook Park, on the other hand, thinks the program will help the city alleviate and prevent flooding problems. David Beach called it "one of the most important developments for local water quality that I have seen in the past 25 years."

Greater Cleveland residents have the opportunity to share their opinions at several meetings:

Update: Scene and the Plain Dealer have more information about FirstEnergy's request. Channel 3 reported on the Harshaw site findings. The News Sun shared details about the aerotropolis meetings.

A study released (PDF) by the Municipality of Bayham, Ontario examined the feasibility of ferry service between Bayham and four potential ports on the American side of Lake Erie: Ashtabula, Cleveland, Fairport Harbor, and Erie, Pennsylvania. It concluded that Cleveland and Fairport Harbor were the most promising destinations, but that while "service is feasible, it must be viewed as speculative."

Update: Bayham Council decided to cancel the second phase of the study.

On Thursday, the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District unanimously approved the new stormwater management program. The district has identified more than $220 million of critical stormwater projects, which will be financed by the new impervious surface fee. Once the board adopted the plan, NEORSD asked the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas to confirm the district's authority to implement the plan.

The U.S. EPA proposed tougher new standards for ground-level ozone that would replace standards set by the Bush administration in March 2008. The proposal calls for new standards between 60 and 70 parts per billion, down from the 75 parts per billion standard adopted in 2008. Northeast Ohio, which last year attained compliance with the 1997 standard (80 ppb), would not meet the new standard. Much of the rest of the state would also be in noncompliance, and the major metropolitan areas may have difficulty reaching the lower levels.

On Friday, Tom Waltermire of Team NEO and Brad Whitehead of the Fund for our Economic Future spoke at the City Club about economic forecasting over the next decade. Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg moderated the discussion. They stressed that greater collaboration could increase opportunities for economic growth.

Despite a reduction in support from the Cleveland Foundation, the Fund for Our Economic Future is proceeding with plans for its third phase, and recently received a $3 million grant from the Knight Foundation to support local government reform efforts. The Fund also launched round two the the EfficientGovNow program yesterday. Local governments have until February 26 to submit a proposal for a collaborative project for the competition. The Fund listed 10 ways that residents can support the program.

Update: the Fund shared more information about the Knight Foundation grant.

With the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District expected to vote on the proposed stormwater management program on Thursday, the Summit County prosecutor asked a court to issue a permanent injunction against any fees. Leaders in outer-ring Cuyahoga County suburbs also dislike the proposal. NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia discussed the approach on Channel 3's Between the Lines.

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WKSU have more details. Joe Koncelik considered the implications of the proposed regulations.

As the Fund for Our Economic Future prepares to embark on its third three-year phase, Phil Ranney of the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust and Brian Frederick of the Community Foundation of Lorain County say that the "collaboration is indeed making a difference in transforming the future of Northeast Ohio. And philanthropy remains committed to, and invites others to join, the mission we embarked on in 2004 to make our region great again."

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's board is expected to vote on the proposed stormwater management program on January 7. If the board approves the proposal, collection of a new impervious surface fee would begin in July. The district is also preparing for legal challenges of its authority to implement the fee. A Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a fair plan that the sewer district board should approve in January."

Update: the Bath Township Trustees oppose the initiative.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN discussed the status of major projects across Greater Cleveland. The guests were Tom Bier of CSU, Stan Bullard of Crain's Cleveland Business, and CPC director Paul Alsenas.

The Cleveland Foundation awarded $15 million in fourth-quarter grants. One of the largest awards was a $1 million grant to Team NEO. The foundation substantially reduced its commitment to the Fund for Our Economic Future, awarding $300,000 for its third phase. The Fund had requested $10 million for the three-year phase. The Gund Foundation gave $4.9 million in grants, including awards to Entrepreneurs for Sustainability and ParkWorks. The two foundations distributed fewer dollars in 2009 than in 2008.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial expressed concern about the Cleveland Foundation's decision to give less to the Fund for Our Economic Future.

The Akron Beacon Journal has more details about the dispute in Summit County about NEORSD's proposed stormwater management program. In neighboring Portage County, Aurora leaders are considering a stormwater fee.

A bill under consideration in the Ohio Senate would revise Ohio's oil and gas drilling laws. It would change the minimum setback from 100 to 150 feet, but does not include enough changes to satisfy Northeast Ohio legislators and residents. They hope to include stronger protections in an Ohio House bill.

Update: this week's issue of Scene has more details. It was also the subject of a discussion on WCPN's Sound of Ideas.

NOACA awarded a total of $777,250 in Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grants to 13 projects in Cuyahoga and Lorain counties. The NOACA Governing Board also added the 3-C Corridor passenger rail line to its long-range transportation plan.

The most recent episode of NEOtropolis looked at neighborhood revitalization in Euclid and downtown Akron. Panelists Raymond Cox, Gus Frangos, and Hunter Morrison also discussed the subject.

Leaders in Summit County are banding together to oppose the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed stormwater management program. County officials may file a lawsuit against the sewer district.

The Fund for Our Economic Future approved a second round of the EfficientGovNow program today. The Fund's Brad Whitehead described reactions to the first round in an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed.

Update: up to $330,000 will be awarded to governmental collaborations. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports the program.

A study of immigrants in the nation's largest metropolitan areas found that while the five-county Cleveland MSA's proportion of immigrants is relatively low, the area's immigrant population has made strong economic contributions. The study identified correlations between immigration and economic progress, saying that "there is no doubt that immigration and economic growth go hand in hand." In October, panelists on WCPN's Sound of Ideas discussed immigrant attraction.

More than 100 people attended the last of five public meetings about the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program. Some residents objected to the new stormwater fee it would entail.

Update: leaders in Summit County remain opposed to the program.

The tax sharing component of the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to draw opposition in Lake County. The Initiative issued an interim revenue sharing report (PDF) in September.

Kent State University surveyed participants in the EfficientGovNow process. The majority of respondents said that they are advancing on the regionalism initiatives identified as part of the competition.

Members of the new White House Office of Urban Affairs recently visited Cleveland to gather feedback about the federal stimulus program.

WCPN looked at how the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and the Ohio EPA have invested their federal stimulus dollars.

The Cleveland edition of GLUE's "I Will Stay If..." campaign will take place on Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Speakeasy in Ohio City. The evening will feature opportunities for networking and idea-sharing, plus presentations from Lillian Kuri, Randell McShepard, and Matt Zone.

Dangerous by Design, a new report from Transportation for America and the Surface Transportation Policy Project, examined pedestrian safety in American cities. It highlights the hazards of inadequate investment in pedestrian infrastructure and the need for better design. The Cleveland MSA was one of the safer large metropolitan areas for pedestrians.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch looked at the situation in Ohio.

The discussion on The Sound of Ideas this morning was about sustainable development and lessons that Cleveland can learn from other cities.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will hold five public meetings this month (PDF) about the proposed regional stormwater district. The first meeting will be in Mayfield Heights at the DeJohn Community Center on November 9.

Cleveland Area History is a new weblog that describes itself as having "an opinionated, vocal, approach to history, preservation, and related issues in the greater Cleveland, Ohio area."

Highway traffic volumes are rising in Greater Cleveland, mirroring national trends. Traffic congestion in American urban areas reached its low point in the second quarter of 2009, and experts say that the increases are tied to the stabilizing economy.

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration agreed to review the feasibility of adding a connection between Cleveland and Pittsburgh to the list of designated high-speed passenger rail corridors.

The Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine today announced the establishment of the Prevention Research Center for Healthy Neighborhoods. With funding from the Centers for Disease Control, the new center will "address common health issues faced in disadvantaged urban neighborhoods in and around Greater Cleveland."

Yesterday, the U.S. EPA announced that six Greater Cleveland counties fail to meet 2006 federal standards for fine particle pollution (PM2.5), making official the designation made in December 2008. Ohio must develop a plan for bringing Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties into attainment status.

Update: Brad Chase at GreenCityBlueLake looked at what Northeast Ohio has done and what it still could do to lower particulate pollution levels. The Akron Beacon Journal has more details about the announcement.

Rust Wire recapped the Levin College Forum event yesterday that featured author Alyssa Katz. The next Forum event on October 30 will be a panel discussion about interdisciplinary partnerships for infrastructure investments.

The cool weather and poor economy led to cleaner air in Northeast Ohio this summer. There were only three Ozone Action Days and four days when particulate matter levels were unhealthy.

Community Research Partners analyzed IRS migration data to identify the destinations of people moving from Ohio and the originations of people moving to Ohio. The report looked at migration between Ohio and the rest of the U.S., within the state, and within metropolitan areas. From 2007 to 2008, Ohio experienced a net loss of 35,692 residents through domestic migration.

Additional 2008 American Community Survey data released by the Census Bureau includes information about income, poverty (PDF), and food stamp receipts. The poverty rate rose in Ohio and the Midwest, while in Northeast Ohio, the number of people with incomes near the poverty line increased. An analysis by the Brookings Institution predicts that poverty rates will remain elevated for years.

Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District leaders are negotiating with state and federal officials about the district's plans to eliminate combined sewer overflows. NEORSD officials want 30 years to resolve the problems, but the U.S. EPA is insisting on a 20-year timetable.

The Gund Foundation announced $5.6 million in grants yesterday. The largest award was a $4 million grant to the Fund for Our Economic Future, a 30% increase in the foundation's support for the effort. The Cleveland Foundation awarded $14.8 million in grants, including $250,000 for two ParkWorks programs.

The U.S. Census Bureau released 2008 American Community Survey data on Monday. Social, housing, demographic, and economic data are available for areas with populations of 65,000 or more. It showed decreases in median household income across Ohio, especially in the state's major cities. For the first time, the ACS included data on health insurance coverage, and Northeast Ohio's big cities had a greater percentage of people without coverage than state and national averages.

The proposed Regional Prosperity Initiative continues to generate mixed reactions. Some leaders in Wayne County support the concept, while others have doubts.

Joe Koncelik believes that Northeast Ohio needs to prepare for the likelihood of tighter federal ozone standards.

As anticipated, the U.S. EPA declared that eight Greater Cleveland counties now meet federal ozone standards. The region likely will not comply with new federal standards scheduled to take effect next spring. The announcement does not affect the E-Check program.

Update: the EPA also announced that it will reconsider the new standards "to ensure they are scientifically sound and protective of human health." They could be made more stringent.

On Friday, NOACA's Governing Board approved changes to its membership. The weighted voting provision was removed, and six new members were added. The new seats on the 44-member board went to the cities of Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Lakewood, and Parma, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and the Medina County Engineer. Under the previous rules, Cuyahoga County representatives controlled 50% of the votes in an unweighted vote and 62.5% of the votes in a weighted vote. Cuyahoga County members now make up 54.5% of the board, while Cuyahoga County's population is 61% of the five-county region. The Governing Board also narrowly approved a rule that requires its president and vice president to be elected officeholders.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, David Cooperrider of the Weatherhead School of Management wrote about sustainability in Cleveland and the recent summit. He believes that Northeast Ohio is poised to become a leading sustainable economy, and that the summit was the end of the quiet crisis.

The Fund for Our Economic Future is considering a second round of funding for the EfficientGovNow program and is gathering feedback from first round participants.

Update: the survey results are now available.

The U.S. EPA and a group of local partners are conducting the Cleveland Multiple Air Pollutant Study, a two-part air quality study of Cleveland and the surrounding area. The program is a national model intended to help identify the sources (PDF) of a variety of specific pollutants.

The Fund for Our Economic Future adopted the new Fund for Sustainability, an outgrowth of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit. When it is more fully funded and gains guidelines, it will provide loans to sustainable businesses.

Whether the E-Check program continues in Northeast Ohio may depend on how the U.S. EPA designates the region under its new ozone standards. It could be named as a moderate nonattainment area or a marginal nonattainment area. The Ohio EPA currently intends to extend E-Check until at least June 2011.

Update: Envirotest will continue to operate the program through the end of June 2011.

The Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association has taken no action on the proposed 16-county Regional Prosperity Initiative since it was presented to members in April. Painesville City Manager Rita McMahon expects that building consensus will be difficult.

The 2009 APA Ohio Statewide Planning Conference will be held from September 23 to 25 at the Sheraton Suites in Cuyahoga Falls. The Cleveland Section's 21st annual Planning and Zoning Workshop will take place on November 13 at LaCentre in Westlake.

The cool and wet weather this summer has contributed to an improvement in Northeast Ohio's air quality. Ozone and particulate pollution levels have been lower this summer.

NOACA has begun uploading videos of speakers at its annual summit to YouTube. Available so far are videos of Senator Voinovich and Mayor Hruby of Brecksville.

A Plain Dealer editorial about the EfficientGovNow awards says that they "demonstrate just how far this region has to go when it comes to government collaboration and also how much low-hanging fruit is within reach of communities", while a Sun Post-Herald editorial says that the proposed Westshore Regional Fire District "could not be more timely."

The annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators compared the economic performance of Northeast Ohio's metropolitan areas with other American metropolitan areas. It found that the area's economy improved between 2004 and 2007, but noted that it is "unclear how the region will fare after the present recession ends." The Dashboard site has not yet been updated with the latest figures.

Update: the Chronicle-Telegram offers more details.

The U.S. EPA is developing national air quality standards for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) . Area officials expect that Ohio cities will be able to comply with the new limits.

The Fund for Our Economic Future announced the three winners of EfficientGovNow grants today. The Mahoning River Corridor Redevelopment will receive $57,451, the Westshore Regional Fire District will receive $100,000, and the Mahoning-Youngstown Regional Information System will receive $120,000. The Fund's Chris Thompson said that the government efficiency program "has helped the region take another step in its progress toward a more vibrant economic future."

Update: the awards attracted media attention from across Northeast Ohio.

The discussion on this morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was about the impending service cuts and fare increases by RTA and other local public transit agencies. The City of Lakewood objects to the elimination of its community circulator route, and Cleveland City Council asked RTA leaders to reconsider their decision to end circulator service. RTA will hold a community meeting in each neighborhood served by a circulator.

Today is the final opportunity to cast a vote in the EfficientGovNow program. As of yesterday, the Westshore Regional Fire District project was in first place.

About 150 people attended the U.S. EPA's Great Lakes Restoration Initiative stakeholder meeting in Cuyahoga Heights on Monday evening. Agency officials heard feedback about the proposed $475 million restoration program. The EPA is also gathering suggestions online.

Update: Michael Scott of the Plain Dealer summarized the recurring themes of the meeting.

The Texas Transportation Institute's 2009 Urban Mobility Report found that traffic congestion in American cities eased slightly in 2007. Greater Cleveland figures followed the national trends (PDF). Of the 29 large urban areas studied, the Cleveland area had the second-lowest amount of congestion per driver.

Unlike Chrysler, General Motors intends to retain around 67% of its stores in the Cleveland-Akron area, including around 79% in Cuyahoga County.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates state that Cleveland's population was 433,748 in July 2008, which is 4,265 people below the 2007 estimate. The figures reflect similar changes at the county level and in other urban areas. Population losses slowed in urban cores and growth slowed in exurban areas. Cleveland lost 0.97% of its population, an improvement over last year's loss of 1.11%. The Plain Dealer chose to highlight a more negative angle, focusing on the estimated population decrease of 43,724 between 2000 and 2008.

Update: CSU's Mark Salling talked about the estimates on WCPN. Dr. Salling was also among the guests on the station's Sound of Ideas program devoted to the subject. Demographer William Frey of the Brookings Institution examined the trends on a national level.

The Fund for Our Economic Future announced the nine finalists in the $300,000 EfficientGovNow grant program. Up to three of the governmental collaboration projects will be funded. The only finalist in Cuyahoga County is the proposed Westshore Regional Fire District. Public voting on the proposals opened today and will continue until the end of the month.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information, and editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal say that area residents should cast a vote.

Congressman Jason Altmire of Pennsylvania wants a Pittsburgh to Cleveland route added to the federal list of high-speed rail corridors. It would connect the Chicago Hub Network with the Keystone Corridor. Pennsylvania officials are concerned that their planning for high-speed rail lags behind other states.

The Brookings Institution posted the text of Bruce Katz's remarks at the recent Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit.

Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future encourages Northeast Ohio residents to participate in the EfficientGovNow grant program, which will open to public voting on July 1.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Mayor Jackson "is right to be skeptical" about the the Ohio Department of Transportation's promises to replace diverted federal transportation stimulus dollars. The projects funded by the shifted funds are not in the Cleveland area, which the editorial says "reveals the depth of the state's neglect of its urban economic engines in favor of spreading political peanut butter for votes."

The U.S. EPA plans to redesignate the eight Greater Cleveland counties as being in compliance with federal ozone standards. While the region's air quality is improving, it is not expected to meet tougher ozone standards adopted last year.

Update: additional details are available from several local news sources.

Over 400 people attended the Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit on Monday. Keynote speaker Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution made suggestions for improving Ohio's competitiveness through government reform, and urged state leaders to target investments in urban areas instead of spreading them around "like peanut butter."

Members of the Fund for Our Economic Future unanimously voted to continue with a third phase of the program. It will begin in February 2010 and end in February 2013. Leaders anticipate that the phase will be smaller than the first two phases due to the effects of the recession.

About 60 people attended a Regional Prosperity Initiative meeting in Warrensville Heights today. Mayor Currin of Hudson said that the group hopes to introduce a revenue sharing and regional land use planning proposal by September.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar visited the Cuyahoga Valley National Park yesterday and then spoke at the City Club of Cleveland. He said that the park annually generates $38 million for the local economy and helps create 1,000 jobs.

Update: the City Club posted audio of Secretary Salazar's remarks (MP3, 60.6 MB).

A Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit will be held at Cleveland State on June 8. The event is part of the Restoring Prosperity to Ohio Initiative of the Brookings Institution and Greater Ohio. The Brookings Institution's Bruce Katz will be the keynote speaker.

Friday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of cycling issues in Northeast Ohio

Update: Jim Sheehan of the Ohio City Bicycle Co-Op shared his thoughts in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

While automakers have favored suburban locations for car dealers in recent years, the recently announced Chrysler dealer closings appear to indicate a preference for exurban dealerships. Of the 14 Greater Cleveland dealerships slated to close, eight are in Cuyahoga County. Only four will remain open in Cuyahoga County.

Earlier in the decade, Philadelphia was listed alongside Cleveland as a former gateway for immigration, but it recently has re-emerged as a destination for immigrants. The Plain Dealer looked at the turnaround in Philadelphia and compared the situations in Cleveland and Philadelphia. Anne O'Callaghan, founder of the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, led a discussion about immigration at the City Club today.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland "needs a talent-attraction strategy that sees immigration as one of its cornerstones." Audio of O'Callaghan's talk (MP3, 58.0 MB) is now available.

The Ohio Nowcast, a system that provides water quality data for area beaches, is operating for the season. Information is available for Edgewater Beach, Huntington Beach, and new for 2009, the Cuyahoga River at Jaite.

Backers of the Regional Prosperity Initiative continue to promote the concept to area officials, but two Lorain County mayors are concerned that it would not help their communities. Supporters will convene additional meetings in the coming weeks.

Update: WKSU shared more information about the initiative. A Morning Journal editorial calls for more details.

The Plain Dealer offers more details about the entries in the EfficientGovNow grant competition. Public voting will begin on July 1.

WCPN reported on green infrastructure initiatives in Northeast Ohio and the way the relate to federal policies and positions.

Of the 65 projects submitted to the EfficientGovNow grant program last month, 45 met the qualifications to proceed. Expanded abstracts and proposals are now available for reading and comments. Complete proposals must be submitted by May 31.

Amtrak proposed a route for 3-C Corridor as part of the study it is conducting for the Ohio Rail Development Commission. The route includes stops in downtown Cleveland and near Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, but does not go through Akron or Elyria. The passenger rail study should be completed in August.

Author David Osborne spoke with WCPN's Eric Wellman about the challenges to increasing municipal cooperation.

Update: Mr. Osborne also spoke about government collaborations at the City Club.

The American Lung Association's 2009 State of the Air report gave Cuyahoga County failing grades for its levels of ozone and particulate pollution. The 10th annual report listed Greater Cleveland as having the nation's 10th worst year-round particle pollution, but unlike last year, did not include the metropolitan area in the list of cities with the worst short-term particle pollution.

Update: the report (PDF) noted that Greater Cleveland's air quality has significantly improved over the past five years.

Planning Commissioners Journal Editor Wayne Senville recently made three stops in Northeast Ohio as part of his trip across the country. He visited and wrote about how the public library in Hudson has become a community hub, the flexibility and diversity of Shaker Heights, and the strategies identified in the Re-Imagining a More Sustainable Cleveland initiative. Map of the Week also reposted several images from the Re-Imagining Cleveland guidelines.

Members of the Lake County Mayors and City Managers Association are skeptical about the Regional Prosperity Initiative, and question the need for regional revenue sharing. The Regional Prosperity Initiative will hold its first monthly webinar on May 1.

University Circle Incorporated President Chris Ronayne wrote a Plain Dealer op-ed in which he calls on local leaders to adopt a smart growth strategy that includes city-county consolidation, regional tax sharing, and changes to state policies that enable urban sprawl.

The Ohio EPA yesterday announced plans to invest $1.1 billion in federal stimulus funds and low-interest state loans in water and sewer infrastructure projects. Approximately $46 million will go to projects in Northeast Ohio, including $5 million for two NEORSD sewer projects. On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior unveiled plans for $750 million in stimulus funds, of which the Cuyahoga Valley National Park will receive about $7.8 million. The award will fund five projects in the Park. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the dollars (PDF) will help address the Park's maintenance backlog. Meanwhile, the Ohio Department of Transportation announced that it will reallocate $115 million of the $200 million in stimulus funds it recently assigned to the Innerbelt Bridge project in Cleveland to 52 other projects across the state. ODOT officials say that the funding will be replaced with other state and federal dollars.

Local bloggers provided recaps of several recent events:

The Urbanophile used personal observations and commentary from other bloggers to compile an outsider's view of Cleveland's problems. The post engendered a thoughtful conversation, which the Urbanophile highlighted and replied to in a second post.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

Cleveland Ideas is a new website where citizens can make suggestions for making Northeast Ohio a better place to live and work and vote on ideas offered by others. The strongest concepts will be compiled into a report that will be distributed to area leaders.

Tim Grendell and Chris Varley discussed Northeast Ohio's water resources at the City Club today (MP3, 55.3 MB). It was the final event in the "Water–Our Region's Biggest Asset" series.

A Plain Dealer editorial on the new job sprawl report from the Brookings Institution concludes that "metropolitan areas are America's economic engines, and as long as the cores are eroding, it will be harder to create and sustain jobs."

Editorials in the Plain Dealer and the Canton Repository are upbeat about the projects submitted to the EfficientGovNow program.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial is also positive about the news.

The Fund for Our Economic Future received 65 project abstracts for proposed government collaborations across the 16-county Northeast Ohio region. The projects are competing for $300,000 in grants available through the EfficientGovNow program. The next stage is the public comment period, which will begin on May 1.

U.S. Census Bureau employees began field work in Northeast Ohio this week. The workers will be collecting address data through July.

Elizabeth Kneebone of the Brookings Institution analyzed data from 1998 to 2006 to update research on job sprawl in 98 of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States. She found that private sector employment continued to decentralize. Over 45% of employees work more than 10 miles away from downtowns, compared to the 21% who work within three miles of city centers. Greater Cleveland was one of 53 large metropolitan areas classified as experiencing rapid decentralization, with 45.7% of jobs located more than 10 miles away and 16.2% of jobs located within three miles of downtown as of 2006.

Container manufacturer Nalgene conducted a survey of wastefulness in the 25 largest metropolitan areas in the United States. Cleveland finished as the 16th least wasteful city in the nation, ranking highly for library usage and saving leftover food, but scoring poorly in avoiding driving for short trips, use of energy-efficient light bulbs, rain barrel usage, and turning off the lights when not in the room. San Francisco was named as the country's least wasteful city.

Most Greater Cleveland communities are not taking a regional approach with their requests for federal stimulus funds. However, Mayor Kelley of Cleveland Heights recently suggested combining his city's fire department with those of Shaker Heights and University Heights.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Greater Cleveland "needs to re-establish itself as a magnet for new Americans" to again become "one of America's most prosperous cities." It also praises the Greater Cleveland Partnership for including immigration as one of the focus areas of its public policy agenda.

On Thursday, the Cleveland Foundation announced $10 million in first-quarter grants. The awards included $450,000 for three Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority initiatives, $827,000 for Neighborhood Progress Incorporated's Strategic Investment Initiative, $167,000 for the Cleveland Housing Network, and $450,000 for the Downtown Cleveland Alliance. The Gund Foundation also awarded $1 million in grants, including $42,000 for the OSU Extension's Community Gardening program, $70,000 for the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy, and $50,000 for the GreenCityBlueLake Institute.

The Levin College Forum at CSU will host a discussion titled "Building our Future Beyond Foreclosure" on April 23. It will "highlight existing civic visions and plans for the Northeast Ohio region and the state." Panelists will include David Beach, Lavea Brachman, Andrew Jackson, Robert Jaquay, and Wendy Kellogg.

Northeast Ohio water quality experts continue to suspect that increases in the area's Canada Goose population are contributing to the high bacteria counts at Lake Erie beaches.

Leaders of the Fund for Our Economic future expect that the recession will prevent the organization from raising the $30 million it was able to collect in earlier phases. Member organizations may not be able to contribute as much because of substantial declines in the value of their endowments.

In the second event in the City Club's "Water–Our Region's Biggest Asset" series, NEORSD Executive Director Julius Ciaccia and Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski spoke about the past, present, and future of the region's water infrastructure (MP3, 55.0 MB). The third and final installment of the series will be held on April 22.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual county population estimates show that Cuyahoga County lost 11,262 people between July 2007 and July 2008. However, the rate of decrease slowed for the second consecutive year. The County's rate of population change peaked at -1.32% in 2006, was -0.97% in 2007, and was -0.87% in 2008. The other four counties in the Cleveland MSA continued to gain population, but their increases did not completely offset the decrease in Cuyahoga County. The metropolitan area's population fell by 6,594 between July 2007 and July 2008. Population losses slowed across the Midwest, while increases slowed in the South and West. Some attribute the changes in migration patterns to the poor economy.

Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair continues to lobby for changing the NOACA Governing Board's weighted voting provision.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese released the full list of parishes that will close or merge over the next 15 months. In the eight-county Diocese, 29 churches will close and 41 others will merge to form 18 new parishes. In Cuyahoga County, 38 churches will close or merge. Most are in the City of Cleveland. The Plain Dealer mapped the downsizing plans, while WKSU and WCPN looked at the adaptive reuse of former church buildings. WCPN also devoted Monday's Sound of Ideas program to a discussion of the Diocese's plans.

Hudson Mayor William Currin, chairman of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association, wrote in a Plain Dealer op-ed that now is the time for regional cooperation in Northeast Ohio, and announced the new Regional Prosperity Initiative. The new initiative promotes regional land use planning and revenue sharing as ways to achieve a prosperous future.

Last week, NOACA approved allocating $43.6 million of federal stimulus funds for 21 infrastructure projects in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties. The largest awards were $14 million for the reconstruction of Bainbridge Road in Solon and $4.2 million to widen State Route 611 in Sheffield. An additional 32 improvements were named as reserve projects. NOACA also selected four projects to receive $9.8 million in federal CMAQ funding, including $6.25 million for replacement RTA buses.

A Plain Dealer editorial on regionalism in Northeast Ohio says that "collaboration and reform are nothing less than economic imperatives" and that local autonomy is "a luxury governments cannot afford and taxpayers cannot tolerate."

The second Inrix National Traffic Scorecard found that peak hour traffic congestion in American cities was nearly 30% lower in 2008 than in 2007. Authors attributed the decline to increases in gas prices and unemployment. They also noted that a relatively small decrease in traffic volumes had a large impact in reducing urban congestion. The Cleveland MSA was the least congested of the nation's 25 largest metro areas, and was ranked as number 38 among the 100 metro areas surveyed. It was number 36 in 2007. Half of the region's ten most congested spots are along the Innerbelt freeway.

The Fund for Our Economic Future officially unveiled the $300,000 EfficientGovNow grant program on Monday. Local governments in a 16-county Northeast Ohio area can apply for funding of government collaboration and efficiency projects. The deadline for submitting project abstracts is April 15, and final proposals are due by May 31. Finalists will be announced on July 1, and public voting will end on July 31. WCPN's Eric Wellman spoke with the Fund's Chris Thompson, and WKYC's Tom Beres spoke with Brad Whitehead about the program.

The Plain Dealer examined the 2007 Census of Agriculture's figures for the seven-county Greater Cleveland area. The region lost 100,000 acres farmland between 2002 and 2007, 20% of the total supply. Cuyahoga and Summit counties saw some the most rapid drops in Ohio, while Lorain and Medina counties experienced some of the state's highest losses of agricultural land.

The Edgar Farm in Valley View, one of the farms in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park, will be offered for lease through the Countryside Initiative later this year.

The Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority will receive $35 million in federal stimulus funds, and eight other Northeast Ohio public housing agencies will receive an additional $18 million. Fifteen area cities and counties will also receive a total of $12.5 million in Community Development Block Grants. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has allocated $10.1 billion.

Author Charles Michener recently spoke at the City Club about a book he is writing (MP3, 52.5 MB) on the reinvention of Northeast Ohio. The Plain Dealer published an excerpt of his talk.

The GreenCityBlueLake Institute unveiled its first State of Sustainability report at its Emerge event on Saturday. It includes "items from the many issue areas of sustainability, including arts and culture, building, economy, education, energy, food, health, land, transportation, and water." The Institute plans to annually update the report.

The Ohio EPA intends to ask the U.S. EPA to declare the eight-county Greater Cleveland region in compliance (PDF) with 1997 federal ozone standards. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on March 3 in Twinsburg. However, the U.S. EPA is also preparing to declare that the area does not meet stricter ozone rules adopted last year.

WCPN shared more details about the Fund for Our Economic Future's upcoming government collaboration and efficiency grant program.

Update: the Fund will launch the program on Monday.

Solon leaders do not want the City to be part of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program, saying that the City is already working control flooding. Macedonia officials had expressed a similar sentiment, but now appear to be more open to participating in a regional effort.

CPC Director Paul Alsenas and Frank Greenland of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District were the guests on yesterday's Sound of Ideas show, where they discussed the District's proposed stormwater management plan.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District board did not vote on the proposal to take responsibility for managing stormwater at a regional level. District staff will continue to promote the concept in the 61-community service area, and the board may pass the proposal in late summer or early fall. A Plain Dealer editorial agrees with their conclusion.

Channel 3 followed up yesterday's story about creating a sustainable transportation system with a report about transportation choices that individuals can make. The station also examined proposals for commuter rail in Ohio.

A draft recommendation by the Ohio EPA identifies 31 counties as nonattainment areas under federal ozone standards adopted last year. The list includes Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing about the recommendation in Columbus on February 12. The Greater Cleveland counties also fail to meet older, less stringent standards.

Eleven Greater Cleveland cities made requests for federal stimulus dollars through a report compiled by the United States Conference of Mayors. The Plain Dealer lists their proposals. Ohio leaders have been actively lobbying for funding, and the state may receive $6.8 billion.

GreenCityBlueLake Institute Director David Beach appeared on Channel 3 this morning to discuss the state of Greater Cleveland's transportation infrastructure and the need to develop a sustainable transportation system.

Pat Conway of the Great Lakes Brewing Company and John Grabowski of Case Western Reserve University will participate in a discussion at the City Club on February 18, where they will talk about the role of water in the area's economy. It is the first event in a three-part series titled "Water - Our Region's Biggest Asset".

Update: audio of the program (MP3, 53.7 MB) is now available.

In a pair of posts at Newgeography.com, Ed Morrison lays out the challenges facing Greater Cleveland and offers suggestions for strengthening the region's economic development strategies.

On Thursday (PDF), the board of the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District will discuss the regional stormwater management role proposed for the agency. The increase in responsibilities would be accompanied by new fees, which have been controversial, especially in light of the continued increases in sewer rates.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake answers questions about regional stormwater management.

The Cleveland Carbon Fund was unveiled on Wednesday. Organizers are billing it as "the first community-based, open-access carbon reduction fund in the United States." It provides an way for Northeast Ohio residents and businesses to reduce their carbon footprints by investing in local carbon reduction projects.

In a new survey, the Pew Research Center asked Americans if they were happy with the city in which they live, where they would like to live, and why. Almost half of the respondents said they would like to live somewhere else. The top 10 cities were all in the South or the West, while the bottom five were in the Midwest. Cleveland finished second to last in the list of most popular cities.

Michael Wager, the outgoing chairman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, said in his parting remarks that "Cleveland and Ohio need bold initiatives." Vice Chair Steven Williams will be the Port Authority's new chairman.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership is promoting a list of regional infrastructure projects for federal stimulus funding.

While the E-Check program remains unpopular among Greater Clevelanders, U.S. EPA officials say that an automobile emissions inspection program for the region is required under the Clean Air Act. Strickland administration representatives would not say if they plan to continue E-Check, which is set to expire in June.

Update: a News-Herald editorial says that Ohio leaders must fix the program.

Congressmen Tim Ryan and Jason Altmire talked about the Cleveland to Pittsburgh Tech Belt Initiative at the City Club today. Congressman Ryan said that the collaboration will allow the region to leverage federal dollars.

Update: audio of the talk (MP3, 127 MB) is now online.

The Fund for Our Economic Future's 2008 Barometer of Economic Attitudes survey included questions about regionalism. Of the 2300 Northeast Ohioans surveyed, 82% favored increased government collaborations, and 67% favored government consolidations. In March, the Fund will introduce a $300,000 grant program for government collaboration and efficiency programs. Area residents will be able to vote on the recipients. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the "investment will pay off if it sparks creative thinking among local governments and engages the public in the exercise." Earlier surveys were conducted in 2004, 2005, and 2006.

ODOT reports that it remains on schedule to begin operating Intelligent Transportation System elements on Greater Cleveland highways by summer 2010. Implementation across Northeast Ohio should be completed in 2013.

David Beach, Director of the GreenCityBlueLake Institute, shared his thoughts about sustainability in Greater Cleveland. He noted that the economic crisis provides an opportunity for the area to become a leader in sustainable development.

The poor economy is impacting area hospitals in different ways. It has not halted expansions by University Hospitals, Hillcrest Hospital, and the Lake Hospital System, but it has delayed construction by the Summa Heath System. The Cleveland Clinic plans to build health centers in Avon and Twinsburg, though it has not set time frames for construction.

WKSU's Karen Schaefer reports on how Entrepreneurs for Sustainability is encouraging innovative business practices across Northeast Ohio.

As expected, the U.S. EPA announced yesterday that Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties failed to meet new standards for fine particle pollution. The Ohio EPA has three years to draft a compliance plan, and the counties must comply with the standards by April 2014. Meanwhile, a federal appeals court reversed itself (PDF) yesterday and temporarily reinstated the Clean Air Interstate Rule that it struck down in July. The EPA is still required to revise the rule but has no deadline for doing so.

A proposed project to coordinate area transit agencies was not selected for a $1.7 million federal grant. Officials still intend to advance the concept.

The fourth and final installment of the "Cleveland Plus: Turning the Corner" series was held last week at the City Club. Participants in the five-person panel discussion talked about regional economic development initiatives (MP3, 27.7 MB). Dorothy Baunach served as moderator.

Last week, the Cleveland Foundation awarded $18.8 million in grants and loans for the fourth quarter of 2008. The grants include $4 million to the Fund for Our Economic Future, $272,500 to Cuyahoga County for the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center, and $225,000 to ParkWorks.

NOACA has drawn up a list of 65 "shovel ready" infrastructure projects that would use $197 million of the anticipated federal economic stimulus package. However, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette pointed out that Cleveland is among the cities that have not submitted a list of projects to the United States Conference of Mayors. Other area cities, like North Royalton, have participated. The National Parks Conservation Association has also prepared a list of recommended investments, which includes a project in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Fund for Our Economic Future approved $1.2 million in new grants, including $300,000 for a new government efficiency initiative, $250,000 for Team NEO, and $106,300 for Cleveland State University to produce the 2009 Dashboard of Economic Indicators.

Update: the government efficiency program will have two elements: grants for intergovernmental collaboration, and a public engagement component.

For the first time, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data for all communities with a population greater than 20,000. Previous releases were limited to areas with more than 65,000 people. The estimates, which reflect data collected between 2005 and 2007, present an opportunity to evaluate demographic trends in mid-size cities. The release reveals information about population shifts in Cleveland's suburbs, declining household incomes in the Akron area, and regional poverty statistics. American Community Survey data can be accessed at American Factfinder and at Cleveland.com.

President-elect Obama's economic recovery plan includes "the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s," and on Friday, NOACA's Governing Board will consider a resolution urging Congress to "target additional infrastructure funding to states with the highest unemployment." Officials in Geauga and Lake counties are preparing lists of "shovel-ready" projects.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that cooperation through the Tech Belt Initiative between Cleveland and Pittsburgh "is already beginning to pay off."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Lee Kamps says that Greater Cleveland's fragmented system of local government is wasteful, and that "we need to form some kind of metropolitan government with one mayor, one City Council, one Police Department and one Fire Department."

Entrepreneurs for Sustainability named the recipients of its annual Champions of Sustainability awards at yesterday's Creating Cleveland's New Story event. Participants liveblogged the proceedings from the Thwing Center at the new Creating Cleveland's New Story weblog.

A Plain Dealer feature examined the ways that Pittsburgh influences Cleveland and explored redevelopment and economic development strategies employed by Pittsburgh that could be applied in Cleveland. Meanwhile, a New Orleans Times-Picayune series on the shrinking cities movement looked to Cleveland and other Midwestern cities as positive models. At Cleveburgh Diaspora, Jim Russell submits that "the fate of Pittsburgh and Cleveland are increasingly intertwined."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Tom Bier says that Cleveland will need the support of the region if it is to succeed, and that "it could be essentially gone" if regional leaders fail to cooperate. In a second Plain Dealer op-ed, law student Christopher Thomas explains why Cleveland can be an attractive destination for young professionals.

The Cleveland Public Library's Fine Arts Department shared information about their local architectural history resources.

"Citizen" Ed Hauser, the activist known to many as the "Mayor of Whiskey Island" passed away unexpectedly on Friday at age 47. Marc Lefkowitz, Bill Callahan, George Nemeth, Carole Cohen, Roldo Bartimole, Jill Miller Zimon, Erick Trickey, Dru McKeown, and Kelly Ferjutz have all posted remembrances, as have members of RealNEO, a site where he participated.

Calling it "Greater Cleveland's last, best chance to end the foreclosure feeding frenzy that is consuming neighborhoods and eviscerating property values," a Plain Dealer editorial urges state and local officials to support countywide land bank legislation.

Update: Becky Gaylord feels that Cleveland needs "bold, strong action, such as creating a regional land bank."

The Ethicurean summarized the the inaugural Northeast Ohio Food Congress, saying that it "offered a feast of possibilities, and there were plenty of ideas left over to take home and share."

Update: the Plain Dealer and GreenCityBlueLake also have reports on the event.

Regional groups of parishes in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese submitted plans for consolidating churches to the Vibrant Parish Life Committee. The greatest reduction in parishes will be in the City of Cleveland, where recommendations call for closing up to 26 of the 61 parishes. Bishop Lennon will make the final decision on closings next March.

Midwest Real Estate News spoke with four Greater Cleveland real estate professionals about the local commercial real estate market.

The chambers of commerce for the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown areas rolled out the Tech Belt Initiative, an economic development strategy intended to help the region transition to a knowledge-based economy.

Update: the Plain Dealer offers more information.

Professor Scott Shane of the Weatherhead School of Management prepared a white paper about entrepreneurial activity and economic development for the Fund for Our Economic Future. It "explored ways in which the Fund could use entrepreneurship (PDF) to improve the lives of the residents of Northeast Ohio."

Update: the paper recommends that programs to enhance immigration should not be pursued as an economic development strategy. Attorney Richard Herman disagrees.

The Ohio Department of Development announced the 15 recipients of Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grants, including six projects in Northeast Ohio. The cities of Cleveland and Parma were the awardees in Cuyahoga County. Initiatives of the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association and the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium were not selected for awards.

The first Northeast Ohio Food Congress will be held at Hiram College on November 7-8. It will feature "contemporary local perspectives, informative presentations, tasty local eats, and inspiring field trips." The registration deadline is November 5.

The News-Herald looked at the conflicts and the problems resulting from a 2004 Ohio law that removed local oversight of natural gas and oil wells. Some are opposed to the increase in drilling and hope to revise the law.

The Plain Dealer looked around the United States for new economic revitalization strategies that could be utilized in Greater Cleveland.

On October 23, the Ohio Department of Transportation will hold an open house about funding and development of recreational trails in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, and Medina counties. It will be held at the CanalWay Center in the Cleveland Metroparks Ohio & Erie Canal Reservation.

NOACA awarded $869,600 in TLCI grants for 15 transportation planning studies in Cuyahoga, Lake, and Medina counties. The awards include $50,000 to the City of Parma for planning a multipurpose trail along the First Energy corridor near the City's southern border, and $48,000 for planning a bicycle path in Medina.

Update: Maple Heights will use its award to study ways to make Broadway Avenue friendlier to pedestrians and bicyclists.

On Friday, October 17, Western Reserve PBS (formerly PBS 45 & 49) will air Living Cities, a one hour special report on the well-being of Canton, Cleveland, and Youngstown and a response to their inclusion in the Forbes.com list of dying cities.

Update: the program can now be viewed online.

Members of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association promoted the organization's regionalism efforts at a Regional Chamber conference in Boardman last week.

(via Pass the Plus)

Ozone levels in an eight-county Northeast Ohio area were lower than anticipated this summer. Officials attribute the cleaner air to a reduction in automobile traffic caused by higher gas prices.

Macedonia officials are not interested in participating in the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District's proposed regional stormwater management program.

The third annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators found that the economic performance Northeast Ohio's four metropolitan areas continues to fall short of national and regional averages. The results correspond with earlier Dashboard reports and other national studies.

Update: the Morning Journal summarized the findings, while the Plain Dealer published a more optimistic story.

The final two stories in WKSU's NEO Development series explore the role of fresh water in the region's redevelopment and how historic preservation and adaptive reuse are helping to create a sense of place.

The Plain Dealer took a look at how communities across Greater Cleveland are adopting sustainable processes.

Statistics released by the BEA show that the five-county Cleveland MSA had the 26th-largest GDP of the nation's 363 metropolitan areas. However, it was also one of only 55 metropolitan areas to see a contraction of its economy between 2005 and 2006. The region's losses were attributed to a decline in manufacturing.

Ohio received more than $258 million of the $3.92 billion allocated by HUD for foreclosure relief. Cleveland's share was $16.1 million, and Cuyahoga County's was $11.2 million. The cities of Akron, Elyria, Euclid, and Lorain also received funds, as did Lake and Summit counties.

This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau released American Community Survey data covering 2007 social, economic, and housing characteristics. The data was interpreted in a variety of fashions:

Update: the Plain Dealer summarized the data for Cuyahoga County, the Cleveland and Akron metropolitan areas, Ohio, and the nation.

Best Performing Cities 2008 is a new report from the Milken Institute and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners that ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by "how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth." Of the 200 largest metropolitan areas studied, Greater Cleveland was ranked number 193. Most cities in Ohio and Michigan fared poorly on the list.

(via Planetizen)

On Friday, the NOACA Governing Board voted to distribute $11.2 million in emergency funds to area public transit agencies. RTA received $9 million and Laketran received $1 million. Smaller amounts went to Lorain County Transit, Medina County Public Transit, Geauga County Transit, and the Brunswick Transit Authority.

The Plain Dealer's Michael Scott interviewed David Beach of the GreenCityBlueLake Institute at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

The Ohio EPA is preparing to submit a plan for bringing into compliance the 27 counties that do not meet federal particulate pollution standards. Cuyahoga County is the only one expected to have problems meeting the standards by the April 5, 2010 deadline. The Ohio EPA will hold a public hearing on September 17 at the Twinsburg Public Library. Meanwhile, the U.S. EPA is in the process of designating nonattainment areas under new, more stringent particulate rules.

Zaremba Homes has started offering a rent-to-own program intended to make their properties (including the Avenue District in downtown Cleveland) more attractive to buyers.

Akron Beacon Journal columnist David Giffels writes about the continued reactions to the list of America's fastest-dying cities published by Forbes.com last month, describing it as something that "is so not worth talking about that weeks later people are still talking about how it's not worth talking about."

The Medina County Commissioners renewed their call for providing outlying counties a larger share of the funds intended to alleviate the public transit funding shortfall. A public forum will be held on September 12 at the Medina County University Center in Lafayette Township.

While natural gas and oil wells can be lucrative, their drawbacks have led several suburbs to reconsider plans to drill on public lands.

Developer profiled the efforts of five cities, including Cleveland, to revive neighborhoods damaged by foreclosures and abandonment. Some signs indicate that the housing market may be improving, as Greater Cleveland led the nation for home price gains in April and May.

(via Planetizen)

The U.S. EPA released a list of counties it plans to designate as nonattainment areas under new fine particle air pollution regulations. It includes Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties. Most Greater Cleveland counties failed to comply with older, less strict standards, so the announcement was not a surprise. The EPA plans to make final designation decisions by December 18.

The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association is preparing to move into the second phase of the Regional Economic Revenue Study. The City of Hudson and the Village of Richfield will apply for funding from Ohio's Local Government Services and Regional Collaboration Grant Program to support the study.

Two NOACA committees will recommend allocating $10.5 million in federal funds to the area's five public transit agencies. RTA is expected to receive the bulk of the money. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Ohio leaders must find a long-term solution to public transit's fiscal crisis.

Geis Companies, a local industrial developer, is using the proceeds from its January sale of ten suburban industrial properties to reinvest in projects across Greater Cleveland. Through its Hemingway Development division, the company has made purchases in Brecksville, Boston Heights, Mayfield Village, and Warrensville Heights.

Renewable Energy World summarizes wind power initiatives in Greater Cleveland, including the Great Lakes Science Center's wind turbine and the potential for an offshore wind farm.

The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District assembled a 20 member Stormwater Advisory Committee to help the District make key decisions in the development of a regional stormwater management program.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority adopted a development-finance policy yesterday. The new policy deemphasizes funding for retail developments and encourages investments with regional impacts.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the new cost of government study is a "welcome invitation to address boldly the redeployment of resources."

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "Northeast Ohio's redundant and wasteful government structures…erode the very competitiveness of our economy."

The Center for Governmental Research completed a study for the Fund for Our Economic Future about the cost of government in 16 Northeast Ohio counties. Researchers compiled 1992, 1997, and 2002 Census data to compare Northeast Ohio with selected regions elsewhere in the state and nation. They reported that "while the cost of local government in Northeast Ohio as measured by expenditures per capita was not strikingly different from the other regions examined, there were wide variations in the cost of government when comparing individual counties within Northeast Ohio." Executive summaries, Census data, and data tables are available online.

Update: the Plain Dealer compared Solon with Lake Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago. Also, WCPN's Sound of Ideas hosted a discussion of the study.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland and Northeast Ohio "need something new: An aggressive repopulation strategy that emphasizes immigration" in order to reverse the region's negative population trends.

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates indicate that Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs continued to lose population. Between July 2006 and July 2007, Cleveland's population dropped by an estimated 5,067 people, about 1.1% of its total. While it was the largest numerical drop in the nation, it was a smaller annual decrease than in the last several estimates. Cleveland officials believe that the City is poised to start reversing the trends, and downtown Cleveland has been gaining population. Population tables are available for download from NODIS.

A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee recommended narrowing the focus of its financing activities. If the strategy is approved by the full board, the Port Authority will shift its priority to providing financing for maritime, logistics, or distribution companies, and for businesses that will move to a proposed international trade district near the planned new port facilities. The Port Authority had previously promoted itself as a source of low-cost financing for a variety of developments.

A story in yesterday's Akron Beacon Journal examines the overbuilt retail market in Summit County. It references the Northeast Ohio Regional Retail Analysis and the 2007 follow-up study done by Cleveland State students.

The E-Check program was extended through the end of June 2009 for seven Greater Cleveland counties. Ohio will pay for the program through general revenue funds, and not the tobacco settlement money that was previously used.

Congressional candidate Bill O'Neill wants to revive plans for two commuter rail lines, the Lakeshore Line, which would connect Cleveland to Painesville and Ashtabula and the Aurora Line, which would connect Cleveland to Solon and Aurora. His opponent, Rep. LaTourette, also supports commuter rail.

Channel 3 aired stories about the increasing popularity of community gardening in Cleveland (video) and about the Farmland Center's FarmLink (video) program.

Crib Notes is the new weblog of Plain Dealer real estate reporters Shaheen Samavati and Michelle Jarboe. Its posts are incorporated into Cleveland.com's new real estate news section.

The Home Builders Association of Greater Cleveland recently led a guided tour of six residential developments under construction across the region. Cleveland.com has video from the tour.

One of the side effects of the foreclosure crisis is an increase in overgrown lawns, which has forced local municipalities to spend money and time on maintaining the vacant properties.

The Plain Dealer briefly looked at the positives and challenges of reusing former school buildings, including the threatened Avon Center School.

Local employees have adopted a variety of policies to help employees deal with rising commuting costs, and RTA reports that Park-N-Ride ridership increased by 4% between April 2007 and April 2008. At the same time, nonprofits, governments, and businesses are encouraging Ohioans to reduce idling in order to save gasoline and reduce pollution.

Last month, the Cleveland Restoration Society and AIA Cleveland gave their annual preservation awards to 13 projects in Northeast Ohio.

(via Cool Cleveland)

Commuters are showing more interest in carpooling and public transportation because of the high gas prices. New user registrations at OhioRideshare increased from an average of a dozen per month to more than 130 per month in April and May.

The Brookings Institution detailed the carbon footprints of the 100 largest American metropolitan areas by analyzing emissions from transportation and residential sources in 2005. Urban residents generally had smaller carbon footprints than rural residents, but several Ohio metropolitan areas were among those with the largest footprints due in part to their reliance on coal. Cincinnati and Toledo were in the top five. The Cleveland metropolitan area had the 31st-smallest footprint of the 100 cities examined, ranking 12th-lowest in emissions from transportation and 74th-lowest in emissions from residential energy use.

Richfield Mayor Michael Lyons, Medina Commissioner Stephen Hambley, and Myron Orfield were the guests on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas show, where they discussed the regionalism initiative of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association. Many local mayors and councilmembers support the concept, but some, like those in Solon, remain wary about the idea.

Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of urban gardening in Cleveland and the innovative programs offered through the Ohio State University Extension. Community gardening is also gaining popularity in Lakewood, and this week's Cool Cleveland looked at some techniques for turning waste streams into sustainable local agriculture.

State and local health officials began summer water quality tests at area beaches this past weekend. Instead of closing the beaches when bacterial levels are high, officials issue no-swim warnings. The Nowcasting system has been expanded to issue advisories for Edgewater as well as for Huntington beach.

North Royalton leaders met with Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer district officials to discuss the agency's plans for a regional stormwater management program.

31 of Ohio's top 100 polluters are among the companies participating in the Ohio EPA's voluntary Tox-Minus program. In Northeast Ohio, 15 plants are participating (PDF), although Lincoln Electric is the sole Cuyahoga County participant. The program is an effort to reduce pollution identified in the national Toxics Release Inventory.

Recent Plain Dealer editorials praise the regionalism agenda of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association and the Cleveland District of Design collaboration. An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal says that "the Republican majority in the Ohio Senate stands strikingly alone" in its opposition to the Great Lakes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, while an editorial in the Plain Dealer says that the opposition may be breaking down.

Update: an editorial in the Beacon Journal is also positive about the regionalism initiative.

Mayors in the 16 county Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association yesterday voted to accept the recommendations of phase one of the Regional Economic Revenue Study and to move forward with its second phase. The report (summary, PDF; full report, PDF) calls for revenue sharing and regional land use planning. The effort differs from previous attempts because it has backing from suburban as well as big city officials. While the group's members overwhelmingly endorsed the plan, some Lorain County leaders expressed skepticism about the concept.

Grist highlighted sustainability efforts in Cleveland today as part of its week-long Smart(ish) Cities series, noting that "Cleveland is one of a handful of cities in the Rust Belt -- including Pittsburgh, Milwaukee, Detroit, and Columbus -- that are reinventing the region as a sort of Green Belt."

WKSU looked at several green building projects in Greater Cleveland, including the Oatey warehouse in Cleveland, the Unitarian Universalist Church in Wooster, and the planned expansion of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.

Christopher Leinberger, the featured speaker at today's Historic Downtown Cleveland Luncheon Forum, writes about Cleveland and his recent study of walkable urban areas. He predicts that if Greater Cleveland follows national trends, the region should have "12 to 14 regionally significant walkable urban places over the next 20 years". At the luncheon, he urged local developers to build walkable neighborhoods. Steven Litt feels that downtown Cleveland has great potential, although it currently lacks pedestrian activity.

Today's Akron Beacon Journal looks at the growth of Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, which now has about 5,600 members. The next E4S events are a Biomimicry Collaborative Meeting and Practice Session on May 7, Waste is a Business Opportunity on May 14, and Exploring the Green Jobs Market on May 20.

The planned move of a company from Macedonia to Hudson has created skepticism among some Northeast Ohio leaders about the local potential for revenue sharing. Advance Northeast Ohio says that the move illustrates the challenges of negotiating individual revenue sharing deals and the need for a regional approach.

The American Lung Association released its annual State of the Air report, and again gave Cuyahoga County an F in particulate pollution. The County received a C in ozone pollution, up from a D in 2007 and an F in 2006. Los Angeles was again ranked as having the nation's worst air, but for the first time, Pittsburgh was ranked first in short-term particulate pollution. Cleveland was number 15 in short-term particulate pollution and number 11 in year-round particulate pollution.

Cleveland State University professor Alan Weinstein was interviewed on the American Planning Association's podcast (MP3, 13 MB) about the impacts of the foreclosure crisis on urban planning.

NOACA staff predicts that twice as many Air Quality Advisories may be issued this year due to stricter federal standards.

Next month, the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association will vote on whether to pursue recommendations identified in the Regional Economic Revenue Study. Chairman William Currin, the mayor of Hudson, declined to identify the recommendations (PDF) prior to the meeting.

In a supplement to a report from last year, the Brookings Institution estimated that implementation of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy would lead to a $2.1 billion to $3.7 billion increase in residential property values in the Cleveland metropolitan area.

At Friday's NOACA Governing Board meeting, staff members described four ways that the agency could pursue (PDF) a regional economic development agenda: creating a land use vision for the region, writing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy consistent with federal EDA guidelines, compiling an inventory of local development projects, or developing regional economic development policies. Board members from Lorain and Medina Counties continue to hope that changes in the agency's scope will lead to revisions of the weighted voting provision.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Weatherhead School of Management professor Scott Shane says that Northeast Ohio philanthropies and governments need to invest more in economic development activities, and suggests tripling annual investments in JumpStart.

In the third and final article in its series on water issues, the Plain Dealer examined ways that the Cleveland area could utilize its wealth of water for economic advantage, and noted the recent Global Water Ventures of Cleveland feasibility study.

Meanwhile, a pair of newspaper editorials weighed in on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Morning Journal says that "best thing [State Senator Time Grendell] can do for Ohio is drop his objections entirely and help get the Great Lakes pact approved as soon as possible." The Plain Dealer called Grendell's proposal for a constitutional amendment "a laughable idea designed to prevent or slow passage of the water deal."

The Plain Dealer explored the efforts of OneCommunity, the nonprofit organization working to connect public and nonprofit institutions in Northeast Ohio to an ultra-broadband network.

The Northeast Ohio Rideshare program has been expanded to encompass bicycle commuters seeking riding companions through the new OhioBikeBuddies program. Interested participants are encouraged to check the site frequently as its database grows.

Update: WCPN offers additional details.

In its annual foreclosure report, Policy Matters Ohio said that although "foreclosure filings are still more heavily concentrated in urban counties, greater growth is occurring in outlying areas." Foreclosure filings in Ohio rose by 6.7% in 2007, but increased by 22.3% in Lake County, 21.4% in Geauga County, and 17.8% in Medina County.

Elected leaders from across a 16 county Northeast Ohio region signaled their willingness to pursue regional land use planning and revenue sharing. Details will be released at a May 15 meeting of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association.

Frustrated by the lack of local governance over natural gas drilling, the recently-formed Northeast Ohio Gas Accountability Project is calling for the return of gas well regulatory authority to municipalities.

Anecdotal data indicates that locally, the foreclosure rate is increasing more quickly in the outer-ring suburbs than in Cleveland or its mature suburbs.

The discussion on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN focused on sustainable business and green collar jobs.

This week's Free Times looks at the rise of the local food movement in Greater Cleveland, using the City Fresh program and the new LEAF initiative in Lakewood as examples.

Parks across Northeast Ohio reported attendance increases last year, a statistic that runs counter to national trends of decreasing interest in outdoor activities.

Team NEO's shift from business retention to business attraction efforts has been very successful. The organization exceeded its goals last year by helping to land 10 projects and $46 million in new payroll.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the organization "now appears to be on track to make a difference in the quest" to lure "jobs, business growth and investment from outside the region".

The U.S. Census Bureau's annual release of county population estimates shows that Cuyahoga County continued to lose population to its surrounding counties and to other states. Between July 2006 and July 2007, the county lost 13,304 people (about 1% of its population). Between 2000 and 2007, it lost 96,213 people (6.9% of its total), the biggest drop in the country. Ohio led the nation with seven of the 34 counties with the largest population declines.

This week's Free Times recounts the saga of the recently-released CDC study about health risks in the Great Lakes Areas of Concern, and takes a closer look at the sites in Northeast Ohio.

At its Friday meeting, the NOACA Governing Board adopted a new Regional Bicycle Transportation Plan (PDF). It is an update to a 1997 plan, and will be incorporated into the agency's long range transportation plan.

The Ohio Department of Transportation intends to have more ITS elements installed along Greater Cleveland highways by summer 2010. The improvements include webcams, electronic signage, and advisory radio stations.

Representatives of the Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium met with Cleveland Magazine staff to discuss their concerns about the magazine's annual rating of Cleveland suburbs. Inner-ring suburban officials feel that the rankings unfairly favor exurban communities.

Yesterday, the U.S. EPA announced that federal ozone limits will be tightened from the 1997 standard of 84 parts per billion to 75 parts per billion. The EPA's advisory council had recommended a standard as low as 60 parts per billion. The eight county Greater Cleveland area does not comply with the 1997 standard, and likely will require additional measures to meet the new rules.

Update: Friday's Plain Dealer has more details.

The Gund Foundation's latest round of awards includes a $40,000 grant to the City Fresh program, a $90,000 grant to the Cuyahoga Valley Countryside Conservancy for its farmland preservation efforts, and a $100,000 grant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation to evaluate the economic impact of the pilot Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit.

At the request of the Fund For Our Economic Future, NorTech hired a consultant to assess its mission. NorTech President Dorothy Baunach said she expects that they are "going to be tweaking the model rather than totally dissolving it or disassembling it".

An editorial in the Morning Journal says that Governor Strickland's support for reviving the 3-C passenger rail corridor "gives a boost to the long-sought commuter rail service from Cleveland to Lorain and beyond."

The Greater Cleveland Partnership published its 2008-2011 Strategic Plan (PDF). Among its suggestions is lobbying for funding of three major projects: the Port of Cleveland's relocation, the Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland, and a new runway for NASA's Plum Brook Station in Erie County. It also calls for closer ties with Akron.

This week's Free Times looks at the pending legislative reauthorization of the Ohio & Erie National Heritage Canalway and the progress on the extension of the Towpath Trail through Cleveland.

With Rob Briggs of the GAR Foundation stepping down as chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future, David Abbott of the Gund Foundation was elected to succeed him. The fund also awarded several grants.

Rob Briggs of the GAR Foundation will step down as chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future next month.

RealtyTrac reports that at 2.97%, the Cleveland metropolitan area had the nation's sixth-highest foreclosure rate in 2007. That's up from the area's 2.5% foreclosure rate in 2006, when it was ranked 14th. Detroit topped the list in both years.

The website for the Regional Economic Revenue Study has been updated with a series of video interviews with Myron Orfield about regional planning and revenue sharing.

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

The Plain Dealer's Becky Gaylord suggests five steps that "could prevent another community-wide foreclosure crisis from ever exploding again."

RTA officials say that improvements in Greater Cleveland's air quality correspond with the the agency's usage of cleaner buses.

Update: the Earth Day Coalition's Clean Fuels weblog explores the subject.

This week, the Plain Dealer is publishing a series on Cleveland's foreclosure crisis. The series includes articles, slideshows, graphics, and databases. However, Bill Callahan feels that the investigation is overlooking an important question.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources issued new rules for oil and natural gas drilling in all of Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lake counties and parts of Medina, Lorain, and Summit counties. The changes are in response to an explosion in Bainbridge Township last month caused by methane leaking into the water table.

Update: residents are upset by the state's response to the issue, while area officials are hope the new permit conditions will prevent future problems.

The Intelligent Community Forum named Northeast Ohio as one of the top seven intelligent communities of the year, an honor that Cleveland also received in 2006.

(via Bytes From Lev)

Update: the Akron Beacon Journal and WCPN have more details.

Instead of eliminating the controversial weighted voting provision, NOACA board members are discussing a proposal that would make it more difficult to use.

The Ohio EPA intends to designate Cuyahoga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties as nonattainment areas under the US EPA's new fine particulate standard. The designation may require new pollution controls to be enacted in order to lower soot levels. The Ohio EPA will accept public comments through January 25, and will hold a public hearing in Columbus on January 22.

CSU's Levin College Forum continues its examination of creating and sustaining communities of choice with a forum titled "Greening Northeast Ohio's Neighborhoods" on February 6. The event will include a talk by Tom Hicks, Vice President, LEED, of the U.S. Green Building Council.

The Western Reserve Land Conservancy preserved a record-high 4,110 acres in 2007, and has preserved a total of 13,262 acres in 14 Northeast Ohio counties.

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer recaps Northeast Ohio's top art and architecture stories of 2007.

On Friday, Governor Strickland signed an executive order that extends the E-Check program in Greater Cleveland through June 30.

The Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail continued to grow in 2007. To date, 78 of the trail's planned 101 miles have been built.

Tuesday's Plain Dealer pointed out air quality concerns about the I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon that was approved in October. Greater Cleveland must reduce air pollution to meet federal standards, and some are concerned that continued urban sprawl will create more problems.

On Friday, the NOACA Governing Board approved a strategy (PDF) to help Greater Cleveland comply with federal fine particle pollution standards. The recommendations will be forwarded to the Ohio EPA, which must submit a soot compliance plan by April 2008. If the area does not meet the standards by April 2010, it could lose federal transportation funds and face restrictions on business expansions.

NOACA board members continue to discuss the weighted voting provision. Officials from Lorain and Medina Counties remain opposed to retaining the weighted vote.

Medina County's NOACA representative does not support the agency's proposed fine particle pollution control recommendations.

The Ohio Senate approved extending the E-Check program in Greater Cleveland through a rider attached to an unrelated bill. Governor Strickland vetoed changes to E-Check in a June budget bill, and the program was set to expire at the end of the year. The bill will go back to the House for a concurrence vote before heading to the governor.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls E-Check "a fraud".

Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren presented Mayor Jackson's regional economic development platform. Speaking before a City Club audience, he said that the keys to a strong region are a supporting a strong central city, helping cities cooperate for economic growth, making certain not to overlook individual talents, and protecting the environment. Channel 3 has video of the event.

Update: the City Club posted a podcast of the talk (MP3, 24.2 MB).

A new report from the Brookings Institution on walkable urban places ranked Greater Cleveland 29th of the 30 largest U.S. metropolitan areas. Washington, D.C. was ranked first. Under the survey's criteria, University Circle was the only walkable place in Cleveland.

Update: the Plain Dealer provides additional analysis.

The Fund for Our Economic Future will provide $2.1 million to Team NEO over the next two years. The grant will cover about a third of Team NEO's budget in 2008 and 2009.

The Northeast Ohio network of the United Nations Global Compact held an introductory meeting last week at Case Western Reserve University to bring together "the leaders of the NEO region with other corporate leaders from N. America in order to solidify sustainability as the region's core strategy."

Last week, WCPN examined regionalism and spoke with local leaders, took a look at Louisville's model, and recapped Thursday's episode of Ideas. The station also had outgoing Mayors Michael Ciaravino of Maple Heights and Judy Rawson of Shaker Heights as guests on The Sound of Ideas, where among other topics, they spoke out against business poaching and tax abatement.

Another Sound of Ideas show earlier in the week was devoted to a discussion of the Brookings Institution's new Blueprint for American Prosperity, with guests Bruce Katz, Ed Morrison, and Mark Rosentraub.

The Plain Dealer looked at the popularity of neighborhood footpaths in older Cleveland suburbs.

In a three-part series, the News-Herald examined the state of the Greater Cleveland housing market.

Data released yesterday by RealtyTrac says that the Cleveland metropolitan area experienced the nation's seventh-highest foreclosure rate during the third quarter of 2007. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial says that Governor Strickland's proposed foreclosure prevention plan is "moderate and responsible" and that the "state must act to slow this foreclosure crisis, which threatens to push Ohio's economy into a downward spiral."

Michael Gill reviewed the Cleveland Artists Foundation's "Cleveland Goes Modern" exhibit in this week's Free Times. It "shows an architectural movement that was just a little too adventurous in its abandonment of nostalgia, a little too new for Northeast Ohio, and indeed most of the United States." It's on display at the Beck Center for the Arts through November 24.

(Update: Steven Litt also reviewed the show, calling it "the first word on the subject, and hopefully not the last.")

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution identify some of the shortcomings of American urban policy, while Joe Frolik of the Plain Dealer examines why political candidates have been neglecting metropolitan issues. Both columns point to the Brookings Institution's new Blueprint for American Prosperity for answers.

At Friday's NOACA Governing Board meeting, officials from Lorain and Medina Counties reiterated their intention to leave the MPO unless it removes the weighed voting provision. Cuyahoga County officials have said that they're willing to negotiate, but Peter Lawson Jones said that any change must recognize that Cuyahoga County "is significantly larger than the other four" counties. The Governing Board decided to allow the Executive Committee until March to devise a solution to the controversy.

The Medina County Commissioners joined the Lorain County Commissioners in asking NOACA to consider eliminating weighted voting.

Yesterday, the Brookings Institution rolled out the Blueprint for American Prosperity, the latest initiative from its Metropolitan Policy Program. It will "promote an economic agenda for the nation that builds on the assets" of America's metropolitan areas. Data presented (PDF) in conjunction with the introduction of the initiative says that the Cleveland metropolitan area generates 22.5% of Ohio's GDP with 18.5% of the state's population.

Keith Hamulak of CB Richard Ellis shared his retail outlook for 2008. If voters in several suburbs approve rezoning initiatives, Greater Cleveland "could experience more than one million square feet of new construction in 2008."

Recent and planned medical center construction by the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals has been exclusively in suburban and exurban communities, and not in the region's core cities. The Cleveland Clinic, meanwhile, continues to reshape its main campus in Cleveland. Steven Litt notes that "it's far too soon to judge how good a job the Clinic is doing architecturally," but "it is a good time to start gathering impressions and to hear about the Clinic's design goals."

Mayor Sutherland's Friday City Club talk about regionalism is available for download as a podcast (MP3, 26.2 MB).

The Lorain County Commissioners today asked NOACA to eliminate the weighted voting provision from the bylaws regulating its Governing Board. Meanwhile, Chris Thompson responded to yesterday's Morning Journal editorial, saying, "We need to fix our system, not break up the region."

(Update: The Chronicle-Telegram presents more details.)

The Economist used Flint and Cleveland as examples of cities where "a faint spirit of change is wafting through some of the rustbelt's grimmest streets."

(via CEOs for Cities)

On November 2, Mayor Deborah Sutherland of Bay Village will speak about regionalism at the City Club. Her talk is titled "Realistic Regionalism for a More Vibrant Economy".

County commissioners from Cuyahoga, Lorain, and Medina Counties were guests on this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN, where they discussed regionalism and the fallout over the Avon I-90 interchange agreement.

In an effort to reduce ozone levels, the Ohio EPA may mandate the use of a cleaner, but more expensive gasoline in the eight county Greater Cleveland area. High ozone numbers in 2007 are prompting the agency to consider the additional controls.

While reactions to the Avon I-90 interchange revenue sharing agreement differ, county commissioners in Lorain and Medina Counties are pressing for the elimination of the weighted vote at NOACA, and continue to investigate the possibility of withdrawing from the MPO. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners have indicated that they're willing to talk about reforms.

Brad Whitehead urges local leaders to "use this as a moment to spur the real conversation about how we want to involve and what steps we might take to focus on growing the resources of the region rather than moving them from one place to another."

The compromise agreement on the planned new I-90 interchange in Avon prompted Medina County leaders to talk about withdrawing from NOACA. Lorain County commissioners threatened to withdraw from the MPO last week.

The NOACA Governing Board passed a resolution (PDF) approving the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, contingent upon the establishment of a revenue sharing plan. Prospective membership in the joint economic development zone was expanded to include eight Lorain County communities. Cleveland officials called the agreement "a giant step toward regional cooperation," but others feel that it may lead to NOACA's demise.

(Update: The Morning Journal and Plain Dealer have more details.)

Avon leaders offered a compromise agreement intended to end the controversy over the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road. In exchange for approving the interchange, an 800 acre joint economic development zone in Avon would be created by Avon, Cleveland, and six western Cuyahoga County suburbs. Under the proposal, if a company with a payroll of more than $1 million were to move from one of the member cities to the Avon development zone, the two cities would evenly split its income tax revenue for five years. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the "region needs a coherent development strategy."

(Update: The Plain Dealer and Chronicle-Telegram report that officials are close to reaching a deal.)

The Cleveland Metroparks received the 2007 National Gold Medal Award for Excellence from the National Recreation and Park Association. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the award "confirms what many already know: the Cleveland Metroparks system is a treasure."

The NOACA Governing Board is scheduled to vote on Friday on the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, and Cleveland officials requested a weighted vote. Cleveland and Cuyahoga County leaders say they will vote to disapprove the interchange unless a revenue sharing plan "that addresses the negative economic impacts on surrounding communities" is implemented. Two Lorain County commissioners responded by threatening to withdraw from NOACA.

Frank Jackson said that he's "not trying to pick a fight" over the interchange, but Plain Dealer columnist Kevin O'Brien and a Morning Journal editorial disagree with the tactics of Cuyahoga County leaders. Critics of NOACA say that the agency has not done enough to promote regional planning efforts.

A review of Northeast Ohio's economy by Team NEO found that the region's economy experienced modest growth over the last 15 years. The average growth of 2% per year lagged behind the national average of 3–3.5% growth. A Plain Dealer editorial says the report reminds us "how critical work force development and investment are for Ohio."

Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove again asserted that the Clinic intends to build a facility in Avon, regardless of whether the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road is approved.

The City of Shaker Heights agreed to pay $50,000 to settle an ADA lawsuit filed by Disabled Patriots of America. The organization filed many similar lawsuits against other local organizations earlier this year. Critics have referred to their tactics as "drive-by litigation".

WCPN reported on the continuing controversy over the proposed new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, and devoted yesterday's Sound of Ideas program to a discussion of the issue, asking, "Are we coming together as a region, or are we still tied to parochial interests?" Also yesterday, Elyria City Council declined to vote on a resolution opposing the interchange.

At his lecture at Case Western Reserve yesterday, Robert Bruegmann said that urban sprawl is neither new nor bad. He was also optimistic about Cleveland's future, saying, "Unless the opportunity is squandered, unless the remarkable investment in assets is squandered, Cleveland and Northeast Ohio are poised to do very remarkable things in the 21st century."

At a meeting with state officials, Northeast Ohio economic development experts shared their dissatisfaction with the funding formulas for the Ohio Job Ready Sites program, which they say encourage urban sprawl.

A NOACA air quality subcommittee issued its recommendations (PDF) for bringing the area into attainment with federal fine particle pollution standards, and AMATS is finalizing a similar set of recommendations. The recommendations include establishing a voluntary program for retrofitting diesel engines.

(Update: AMATS issued its recommendations.)

On Monday, several Cleveland Heights councilmembers spoke out against the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon.

A Morning Journal editorial says that fighting the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon is "the worst thing Elyria City Council could do for their town's future."

After skipping a year, the Texas Transportation Institute published its Urban Mobility Report for 2007. As in previous years, Cleveland fared very well in the report. Traffic congestion worsened nationwide, and Cleveland's annual delay per traveler rose from 10 hours to 13 hours, well below the national average of 38 hours.

This morning's Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of sustainable living and ways that people can reduce their carbon footprints.

At the request of the City of Avon, the NOACA Governing Board postponed a vote on the proposed new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road until October 12. On Friday, Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove spoke in support of the interchange, while Elyria Mayor Bill Grace stated his opposition. The City of Cleveland submitted a written response (MS Word) to the final economic assessment (PDF, 14 MB) prepared by consultants. Elyria City Council, meanwhile, will consider a resolution opposing the interchange at its October 1 meeting.

A new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council looked at ten cities in eastern and southern half of the U.S. and says that global warming will increase their number of days with high ozone levels. Cleveland "would see 11 more days per summer that exceed the EPA's standard."

An analysis of American Community Survey data by NODIS at Cleveland State University found that between 2000 and 2006, Greater Cleveland experienced an employment shift from manufacturing to the service sectors and a decline in the area's household income levels. A Plain Dealer editorial describes it as a "deepening of a distressing trend in Northeast Ohio".

Michael Gill of the Free Times examined the construction boom in arts and culture facilities across Northeast Ohio, a "wave of construction projects that has washed over the cultural landscape in the last few years."

A coalition of local leaders have proposed designating the entire Connecticut Western Reserve as a National Historic Area. The designation could bring an annual $1 million in federal funds for ten years to the the area that covers all or part of 13 Northeast Ohio counties.

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

The Plain Dealer profiled Ryan McKenzie's efforts to make the CityWheels carsharing service a success.

The Plain Dealer examined the history and the myths surrounding several streets across Greater Cleveland with unusual names.

Several Greater Cleveland counties continue to report ozone levels that exceed federal standards. An average of readings from 2007 through 2009 will be used to determine compliance with federal ozone limits.

Researchers are trying to identify the sources of high bacteria counts at Greater Cleveland beaches. Some suspect that droppings from Canada geese may be part of the problem.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that high-performance building and advanced energy projects underway in Greater Cleveland "mix alternative energy with economic development—two things Cuyahoga County desperately needs."

This week's West Shore Sun and West Life News summarize the vigorous debate over the proposed new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon.

The 2007 Dashboard of Economic Indicators reports that Northeast Ohio's economic growth was again below national averages. The research was performed by Cleveland State University and funded by the Fund for Our Economic Future. They expect that "it will take at least a decade to see significant signs of economic improvement, particularly as measured by per capita income and job growth."

At a public forum in Elyria last night, consultants for NOACA presented preliminary results of their impact analysis of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. They said that the interchange (PDF) would benefit Avon and have no material impacts on surrounding areas. Officials from Cuyahoga County communities disagreed, and said that it would hasten urban sprawl. A Morning Journal editorial again portrayed Cuyahoga County leaders as obstructionists.

Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren outlined several ambitious ideas that the City is considering to encourage regional progress. He plans to present a formal economic development strategy in October.

The 19th annual OPC Cleveland Planning & Zoning Workshop (PDF) will be held on November 9 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at LaCentre in Westlake.

NOACA's Transportation Advisory Committee approved the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon by a vote of 19-11. The economic impact assessment for the controversial proposal should be completed by September 7, and the agency's Governing Board is scheduled to vote on September 14.

The Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency awarded $750,000 in Transportation for Livable Communities Initiative grants to 12 neighborhood transportation planning studies (PDF) in Cuyahoga, Geauga, and Lorain Counties.

The attraction of immigrants to Northeast Ohio has not been seen as a tool for economic development, according to Mark Santo of the Cleveland Council of World Affairs, who is leading the Immigration Blueprint Project to show how regional growth can be aided by bringing in new residents from around the world.

An Ohio EPA survey of 25 man-made replacement wetlands, mostly in Northeast Ohio, gave a majority a grade of poor-to-fair. The agency's review of wetlands mitigation rules will be completed in November.

On Friday, NOACA consultants presented a progress report (PDF) on the economic impact assessment for the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. The Cleveland Clinic announced their support of the controversial interchange, and unveiled plans for a nearby 170,000 square foot facility. NOACA will hold a public meeting about the interchange on August 22 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Spitzer Conference Center in Elyria, and approval of the proposal is on the August 17th agenda of the NOACA Transportation Advisory Committee.

Northeast Ohio mayors promoted regionalism at yesterday's Professionals in the City event. "We can no longer compete within the region, because this is a global economy. That means we have to compete nationally and internationally in order for us to survive," said Frank Jackson.

The Plain Dealer reprinted a 2002 piece by the late Richard Shatten on the obstacles to progress in Greater Cleveland, and noted that it "is as relevant today as it was five years ago."

In regionalism news, Mayor Currin of Hudson and others continue to work on the 16 county governmental cooperative regional economic development initiative. They hope to release a report in January and a plan by March. Meanwhile, a group of seven east side Cuyahoga County suburbs may jointly select a company for garbage transfer and disposal (PDF).

Last Wednesday, the Cleveland Restoration Society presented eleven awards for historic preservation projects in Northeast Ohio.

NOACA posted video of the speakers at their 2007 Summit at YouTube. The speakers at the June event were Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson, lobbyist Virginia Ainslie, NEORSD Executive Director Erwin Odeal, and ODOT District 12 Deputy Director Bonnie Teeuwen.

John Cole, the editor of the Morning Journal, is unhappy that NOACA is conducting an analysis (PDF, 38 MB) of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon, saying, "The deliberate sand-bagging of legitimate Lorain County projects in the name of urban sprawl or noise pollution or whatever fabricated nonsense by the assorted mayors and commissioners of Cuyahoga County is reprehensible."

WKSU examined the costs of replacing parts of Greater Cleveland's aging infrastructure, including the major expenses incurred by combined sewer replacements.

Only three people testified at the public hearing held yesterday by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency on the strategies for bringing Greater Cleveland into compliance with ozone standards.

The Ohio EPA's interim proposal for reducing ozone levels in Greater Cleveland includes a set of control strategies that calls for lowering emissions from industry and power plants. The agency will accept public comment at a meeting tomorrow afternoon at its Twinsburg office.

(Update: WKSU has additional details.)

In the second part of their regionalism series, the Sun News group of newspapers published several articles about how Greater Cleveland communities are sharing recreation center facilities. They also provided four interactive maps showing the locations of area recreation centers.

The Sun has additional reactions from public officials about the status report on the potential impacts of the proposed I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon.

Consultants presented preliminary results of the economic impact study for the proposed new I-90 interchange at Nagel Road in Avon. If the interchange is built, they anticipate significant land use changes in the surrounding area, including up to 110 acres of new retail development. Avon officials disagree with the findings. The full study is scheduled to be completed in September.

(Update: Cuyahoga County officials are concerned that the interchange could exacerbate urban sprawl.)

In the third article in their series on the foreclosure crisis, the Free Times explores the tactics used by government attorneys in predatory lending investigations, as well as the statistics indicating that minority populations are targeted by predatory lenders.

The foreclosure crisis was the topic of this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN. The guests were Doug Duncan of the Mortgage Bankers Association and Cuyahoga County Treasurer Jim Rokakis.

The Ohio EPA's interim plan for reducing ozone levels in Greater Cleveland is likely to see changes over the next six months.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Northeast Ohio must develop a strategy for attracting immigrants in order to revitalize the region's economy and staunch population losses.

Foreclosure filings in Ohio continue to outpace last year's figures. Filings in Cuyahoga County are up 14% from last year, and Ohio's foreclosure rate is almost triple the national average. Bill Callahan offers his analysis and additional data.

This morning's edition of The Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the Towpath Trail and its planned completion through Cleveland. The guests were Ohio Canal Corridor Director Tim Donovan, Cuyahoga Valley National Park Superintendent John Debo, and CPC Executive Director Paul Alsenas.

NOACA is hosting a series of public meetings across Northeast Ohio this month to gather input about strategies for the Job Access & Reverse Commute and New Freedom public transportation programs. The agency is also soliciting feedback via an online survey.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution offer a "practical idea for Ohio: Strive to attract at least 2 percent of each metropolitan area's population to live in traditional downtowns."

The US Census Bureau's annual subcounty population estimates show that the City of Cleveland continues to rapidly lose population. The estimates say that between 2000 and 2006, the city lost 33,15 people, 6.9% of its population. Between July 2005 and July 2006, the city lost 6,247 people, 1.4% of its population. Most Great Lakes cities, including Akron, also lost population. Cleveland.com and Ohio.com both offer forms for querying the estimates.

In this week's Cool Cleveland, Mansfield B. Frazier shares his thoughts about regionalism, the role of minorities, and the recent Presidents' Council report. "The question Blacks are asking is: Can regionalism be used to correct past injustices and imbalances in political power, or – similar to Louisville, KY where half of the Black elected officials lost their jobs due to government consolidation – will we again (as per usual) get the short end of the stick?"

Rich Cochran of the Western Reserve Land Conservancy said that Northeast Ohio needs to preserve an additional 200,000 acres of parks and greenspace, and called urban sprawl the biggest threat to the region and its quality of life.

Yesterday, the US EPA proposed tightening ground-level ozone standards. Current standards permit up to 84 parts per billion of ozone, and the new proposal would lower that to 70 to 75 parts per billion. The local implications of the proposed change are not yet known. Meanwhile, the Ohio EPA recently submitted an interim plan to the US EPA for bringing Greater Cleveland into attainment with the current standards, and will hold a public hearing at their Northeast District Office on July 24.

(Update: the Akron Beacon Journal has more information about potential local impacts of the proposal.)

The Presidents' Council, a group of local African American business leaders, will unveil "Regionalism: Growing Together to Expand Opportunity to All" this evening. The report offers recommendations for how regional cooperation can benefit the poor and minorities. Public forums will be held to gather input on the suggestions, and Cleveland officials will create a plan based on the study within 60 to 90 days.

(Update: The Plain Dealer and WCPN have more information about the report.)

EcoCity Cleveland will merge with the Cleveland Museum of Natural History, and together will create the new Center for Regional Sustainability. The merger will begin next month, and should be completed in a year.

(Update: David Beach calls the merger "a fantastic opportunity to align the resources of two strong and respected organizations.")

In the second installment of their "A Region Uniting?" series, the Plain Dealer looked at the potential for merging suburban communities in Greater Cleveland. They used Cleveland Heights and University Heights as an example, and compared the demographics of their proposed mergers with existing cities.

The two members of the Ohio Senate who opposed the continuation of the E-Check program inserted an amendment into the state budget bill that "forces the governor to issue an executive order if he feels E-Check is necessary, but requires him to consider less-intrusive and less-costly alternatives to complying with the Federal Clean Air Act."

A free public screening of the Lincoln Institute documentary on Cleveland will be held at the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo Auditorium on June 27 from 6:00 to 8:30 p.m.

(Update: The Brooklyn Sun Journal has more details.)

A NOACA air quality task force approved a set of recommendations to help the region comply with federal particulate emissions standards. The recommendations include strategies for addressing pollution from mobile (PDF) and stationary (PDF) sources. NOACA's Governing Board may vote on the recommendations this fall, which would then be submitted to the Ohio EPA for inclusion in a statewide plan.

Bruce Katz's May 29 talk at the City Club about the Brookings Institution Restoring Prosperity report is available as audio (MP3, 19.4 MB) and as text.

Orange, Parma Heights, and University Heights are the only suburbs that have adopted the water main maintenance and no poaching agreement offered by the City of Cleveland, though 17 other municipalities have passed or introduced authorizing legislation.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Strickland administration to follow the advice of the recent Brookings Institution report, and concludes, "The state must not forget its enormous role in Cleveland's economy."

By a vote of 2-1, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners decided to rescind $200,000 in funding for the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office. The organization was recently awarded $335,000 by the Fund for Our Economic Future.

This morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of Cleveland Magazine's annual rating of Greater Cleveland suburbs. The guests were magazine Editor Steve Gleydura and Managing Editor Jim Vickers.

The Cleveland Catholic Diocese may close about 20% of its parishes, not the 10% initially reported. Up to 48 churches could be closed, with up to 25 of them in Cleveland. The Plain Dealer explored the potential impacts on the Lakewood cluster, and prepared maps showing the cluster boundaries and population change by parish.

An Akron Beacon Journal editorial calls Ohio E-Check program the best available alternative for addressing air quality problems and that "killing the program would harm the air quality of Northeast Ohio, diminishing the quality of life of all residents."

The latest County Business Patterns release from the US Census Bureau says that the number of businesses in the US grew by 6% between 2000 and 2005, but that Cuyahoga County lost 3.4% of its businesses over the same period. Some local economic development experts assert that the report would look rosier if it included more recent data. Cleveland.com illustrates the numbers with an infographic and an interactive map.

At his talk on Tuesday, architect William McDonough suggested that Cleveland should make itself a capital of renewable energy. "The only massive job-creation possibilities I see that have a completely game-changing quality to them would be in the world of renewables."

In response to demographic shifts, the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland is reorganizing into parish clusters, and will close or merge more than 10% of its 231 parishes by 2010. The highest number of closures is expected in older central cities and inner-ring suburbs. The parish clusters will submit their recommendations to Bishop Lennon by the end of 2008.

(Update: The Plain Dealer reports that the Diocese will likely close more than 30 churches and some parochial schools.)

WKSU provides additional coverage of Bruce Katz's talk at the City Club.

Trulia Hindsight displays an animated map of residential properties, color coded by year of construction. The map for Greater Cleveland shows the outward migration of residential construction.

(via information aesthetics)

The Cleveland Clinic system is embracing green building and other sustainability programs.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution spoke about the new Restoring Prosperity report at the City Club this afternoon, and said, "If we want to grow sustainably, we need (state government) to connect the dots between transportation, land-use, and economic development."

(Update: at the same talk, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher said that major cities and inner-ring suburbs will be given the first opportunities in Ohio's economic development programs.)

The Fund for Our Economic Future awarded grants to local initiatives and economic development organizations, including $90,000 to the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association for a study of regional tax sharing and other collaborations, $200,000 to NorTech for work with the Cuyahoga County Energy Task Force on the Lake Erie wind turbine feasibility study, and $335,000 to the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office. In addition, the Cuyahoga River Community Planning Organization received a $49,954 grant from the Ohio EPA to conduct a public awareness campaign about watersheds.

The retail study update and presentation by CSU Master of Urban Planning, Design and Development students is now available online at a permanent location.

The Brookings Institution's latest report, "Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America's Older Industrial Cities", is intended to "mobilize governors and legislative leaders, as well as local constituencies, behind an asset-oriented agenda for reinvigorating the market in the nation's older industrial cities." Brewed Fresh Daily links to additional media coverage.

(Update: The Brookings Institution also released a related profile of Ohio (PDF), and Tuesday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN discussed the report with author Jennifer Vey, Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio, CSU Professor Ned Hill, and Brad Whitehead of the Cleveland Foundation.)

Local developers and municipal officials are among those attending the annual International Council of Shopping Centers convention in Las Vegas. The developers of the proposed projects for the east and west banks of the Flats are jointly marketing their developments at the convention, and Cleveland.com presents their plans as a JPG and as a PDF.

This morning's edition of the The Sound of Ideas on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of rivers in Northeast Ohio, canoeing, and related subjects. The guests were author John Manuel, Cuyahoga Valley National Park biologist Lisa Petit, and activist Ed Hauser.

This spring, the capstone class in the Master of Urban Planning, Design & Development program at Cleveland State updated elements of the Northeast Ohio Regional Retail Analysis. They found, among other conclusions, that the region's retail space grew by 22% between 2000 and 2007.

(Update: the Plain Dealer published a full story with a graphic on Saturday.)

The Brookings Institution posted Audrey Singer's keynote speech from the Changing Face of Cities conference held in Cleveland earlier this month. As she did in 2004, she identified Cleveland as a former gateway city for immigrants.

GreenCityBlueLake recaps the Shrinking Cities Symposium held on Friday at Josaphat Arts Hall.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Cuyahoga County Commissioners to not provide financial support for the Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office, and suggests that they instead "should consider having the county take on NEOSO's task."

Ford's decision to close the Cleveland Casting plant in Brook Park will result in the loss of 1,200 jobs in 2009, but it also may offer economic development opportunities. The plant is the third-largest emitter of volatile organic compounds in Greater Cleveland, and Ford can sell the plant's pollution rights. Former Ohio EPA Director Joesph Koncelik wants the agency to establish an emissions trading program.

Michael Gill of the Free Times reviews the Shrinking Cities exhibit, as does the Plain Dealer's Dan Tranberg. The next Shrinking Cities event will be music and movies on May 18 at Hyacinth Park.

WCPN took a quick look at last weekend's conference on the impact of immigrants on urban economies.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded approximately $2.3 million in NatureWorks Grants for park and recreational improvements. The recipients included a number of projects in Northeast Ohio.

A coalition of Greater Cleveland agencies expanded the Fine Particle Pollution Program to include sending alerts when airborne soot is predicted to reach unhealthy levels. The agencies will also continue to issue ozone alerts for the seven county area.

As Cleveland hosts The Changing Face of Cities conference, WCPN explored how Northeast Ohio is adjusting to the needs of recent immigrants. Eric Wellman interviewed Jonathan Bowles (MP3) and spoke with Scott Roulston about the role of immigrants (PDF) in the labor force.

Chris Varley points out that "Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown have not benefited from an influx of new immigrants, nor has Ohio as a whole." The new Task Force on Cleveland as an International Community, which is seeking advice on how Cleveland can make itself more attractive to immigrants, held its first meeting on Thursday.

The Northeast Ohio Sourcing Office requested $200,000 from Cuyahoga County, but the County Commissioners are concerned about the organization's finances and the salaries of its top employees. NEOSO leaders expect it to be self-sustaining by 2010.

The Sun Newspapers joined the Plain Dealer in examining regionalism in Greater Cleveland through the "A Region Uniting?" series, and published articles about the regionalization of municipal emergency services. In Cuyahoga County, the articles covered the Chagrin Valley area, Cleveland, the Cuyahoga Valley area, Euclid and the Hillcrest area, the Heights area, southwest Cuyahoga County, and the Westshore area. They also explored efforts in eastern Lorain County, Medina County, and northern Summit County, and posted maps of area fire stations at the Sun News weblog.

Meanwhile, Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future took issue with a Plain Dealer infographic that labeled some of the more ambitious proposals for regional governance as out of reach. "If we are to have a meaningful, transparent conversation about what is best for the region, then no option should be arbitrarily removed from the table at this early stage."