To put it bluntly, these sorts of big-thinking events are often disappointing. But the recent Future of Cleveland party, a mass brainstorming session hosted by Cleveland State University and Cool Cleveland, was an inspiring affair. We encourage you to steal one these five ideas (our favorites from the evening), call it your own, and get to work.
Help young people leave: Yes, young people leave to see the world. The problem is, many can’t find jobs here when they’re ready to return. Businesses with connections to the city should create “exchange programs” when hiring, offering employees a chance to move throughout the company’s global or U.S. locations with the opportunity to return to Cleveland after a set period.
Showcase our ethnicity: Bring a different ethnic festival downtown each weekend during the summer. It would be a big draw and help remind us of all the ethnic businesses that still exist.
Invest in downtown: When enough people live downtown, laundromats, grocery stores and day cares will pop up naturally. When we get close to that threshold, let’s invest in those businesses that choose to locate downtown and help them thrive.
Remind people how great the arts are: People who buy houses in the city should get a packet of freebies, such as a ticket to the orchestra or a one-year art museum membership. Downtown condo owners already receive something similar. Broaden the program.
Let students become urban farmers: Use some of the vacant land and City Hall’s newfound acceptance of urban farming to teach Cleveland Public School children entrepreneurial, business and bureaucratic skills. They run the farm. They secure a booth in the West Side Market or other venue. They make a profit in order to pass.