Cleveland’s Forward Cities Council recently selected an additional corridor to focus their strategic efforts. The East 105th/East 93rd Street Corridor is a north/south connector road that links several of Cleveland’s most challenged neighborhoods to the University Circle neighborhood which is known as the epi-center of Educational, Medical, and Arts amenities in the Northeast Ohio Region. Like many cities that are experiencing growth in areas that contain strong cultural and institutional assets, there exists the unfortunate reality that access to those amenities by all segments of the community is not always easy. This includes access to the economic opportunities that these growing areas can provide for entrepreneurship and small business growth in the immediate area flanking those institutions.
The Forward Cities East 105th Street Corridor activities will inform the efforts of the City of Cleveland and its partners through the local research being done for the 2 year project, in addition to developing strategies that will link existing businesses in the surrounding communities to potential markets created by the employees and visitors of the institutions that are the engine of growth for that area. Currently, the connection between these new market segments and local neighborhood entrepreneurs and small business owners is not apparent. There exist many barriers to bridging the gap between neighborhood businesses and strong institutions that exist in the same neighborhood.
One of those barriers is the fact that many visitors and workers of those institutions may not be aware of the goods and services that can be provided by the surrounding community. In addition to lack of awareness, many of these visitors have perceptions about the community that may keep them on the campuses where they are working or visiting rather than going off campus to patronize local businesses. One of the strategies that will be explored by the East 105th street corridor team is to determine how they can bring businesses to the campuses of these institutions and, vise versa, get these employees and visitors to go beyond their campus walls.
"We must connect our local businesses to the robust markets that exist right next door. In addition we need to determine how we can bring the entrepreneurial "ecosystem" to the small mom and pop operations within the neighborhood. Many of the support services for local businesses could be located in the neighborhoods where the need for business development and support is greatest," said one Cleveland Forward Cities Council member. Creating education opportunities for business development at the grass roots level will help bring the support that is needed directly to the community.
Utilizing the East 105th Street Corridor to link the City’s epicenter of medical, health, and arts innovation to its surrounding neighborhoods through entrepreneurial opportunity, programmatic resources, and physical development will be important to achieving key goals of the City of Cleveland and of the Forward Cities initiative. The City of Cleveland will be embarking on a planning study for the corridor funded by a $400,000 Federal Grant that will serve as a guide for future reinvestment along the corridor.