In my opinion, the most significant outcome resulting from Cleveland’s participation in the Forward Cities National Learning Collaborative is the new culture or narrative of inclusivity that is influencing and changing our local economic development environment. This cultural change, which promotes inclusive economic development and innovation, has the potential for providing greater economic growth and vitality for all.
 
Forward Cities has caused all of us to think more intentionally about how upstream systems, structures, policies and practices impede inclusive economic innovation. We are also confirmed in the belief that systems and structures do not change without a change in our values. The first step is to acknowledge that the way we currently design economic strategies and tactics in in our cities is not inclusive, nor equitable.
 
In many instances, our local economic development efforts continue to entrench past practices when devising new strategies. This locks out the infusion of new creative ideas and innovative ways of doing business. In addition, our current economic development models do not readily promote and ensure diversity, inclusion and equity in our local economy. As Dr. Harry S. Green, a systems change theorist at the University of Chicago has written “every system is exquisitely designed to produce the result it gets.” Therefore, our work is not only to change what we do and how we do it, but it is also critically important to change the way we think about inclusive economic innovation and the values behind it. 
 
It has been said that “culture eats strategy for lunch every day.” If this is true, then to realize sustainable inclusive economic development and innovation we must work to change the local culture in Cleveland to one that supports and fosters the participation of entrepreneurs and business owners that are diverse at every possible level (i.e. race, ethnic origin, gender and socio-economic).