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Cuyahoga County Council approves 5-year economic development plan, including measures to combat COVID-19 recession

The county hopes to expand its economy by continuing to attract new businesses & tourists, as well as combating structural racism.

CLEVELAND — The Cuyahoga County Council on Tuesday approved a five-year plan to invigorate the local economy, including measures to help reverse the current recession brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

The legislation, which had the backing of Executive Armond Budish, passed at today's council meeting. The first year of the plan will focus on recovering from the down economic climate, while the remaining four will be more "big picture."

Budish issued the following statement:

"COVID-19 has devastated our economy, with particular harm to the hospitality and service sectors. As of April 2020, our unemployment rate was 23 percent. These economic conditions require a laser focus on strategies to drive our economic recovery in the near term. As this crisis has further exposed the deep disparities in our systems, we now have an unprecedented opportunity to right those wrongs through our economic development policies and practices. The strategies laid out in the COVID-19 recovery plan will help the County emerge stronger when the economy fully reopens. We will be prepared to capitalize on our strengths and will continue to play a lead role in improving the lives of all our residents."

The main points of the short-term recovery aspect of the plan are as follows:

  • Continued investment in small and minority-owned businesses, including analyzing how those dollars could best be spent
  • Investments in innovation, such as the Cleveland Innovation project
  • Accelerating and scaling existing workforce initiatives to reduce unemployment, such as developing metrics and addressing disparities

As for long-term, the county hopes to expand its economy by continuing to attract new businesses and tourists to the region through an aggressive marketing strategy. A particular focus will be paid to addressing structural racism, which the council declared a public health crisis last month.

According to the council, the primary goals of the development and recovery plan are:

  • Reduce unemployment
  • Reduce poverty, particularly in communities of color
  • Invest private and public sector capital intentionally and strategically to achieve equitable growth
  • Invest in target industries and sectors that will be essential in a post-COVID-19 environment
  • Continue to sustain a sense of system collaboration and urgency that has been fostered because of COVID-19

The national unemployment rate currently stands at 11.1% in what experts say is the worst economy since the Great Depression.