Without the Forward Cities project, the St. Clair Superior Development Corp.’s bank account would be smaller than it is today.
Two years ago, civic leaders from Cleveland and three other major cities began meeting regularly to share ideas and find new ways to help inner-city entrepreneurs.
The Forward Cities initiative was scheduled to end this summer, but the local council does plan to continue getting together — even if they won’t be making any more group trips to Detroit, New Orleans and Durham, N.C.
Plus, some of the ideas and relationships born from Forward Cities have led to new projects and partnerships here in Cleveland. For instance, it was through Forward Cities that Michael Fleming, executive director of St. Clair Superior Development Corp., met Deborah Hoover, CEO of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.
They soon realized that they could work together to help inner-city kids learn about entrepreneurship. As a result, the development corporation ended up applying for a grant from the foundation. It received the $100,000, two-year grant in February.
That wouldn’t have happened if Fleming hadn’t met Hoover through Forward Cities.
“We would not have been in the same room,” he said.
The initiative brought together organizations from different parts of the economic development continuum. Among the council’s 31 members are representatives from the city, lenders, colleges, workforce development groups and nonprofits that work with startups.