Cleveland Heights and four other cities want to find out whether collaborative, economic development opportunities exist between their communities.
Shaker Heights is the latest to join the Circle Heights Alliance, a group that consists of Cleveland Heights, University Heights, South Euclid, East Cleveland and University Circle Inc. Together they will apply for a $100,000 grant that would come from the state's Local Government Initiative Fund.
The money would cover a study to gauge the feasibility of creating a regional economic development district that could partner on transportation issues, bringing jobs to the area and sharing strategies.
"The creation of an economic development district would allow the City of Shaker to leverage financial tools that are not available to us today as a first-ring suburb," Shaker Heights Economic Development Director Tania Menesse said. "Collaboration with the Heights communities and UCI will further reinforce the city's economic development strategy and our 'Work/Live' campaign.
"At this point, in our tight budgets, we should support and look at any way that we can collaborate and create efficiencies across our communities."
The cities would not be required to make a cash match. South Euclid Community Services Director Keith Benjamin is working on the grant proposal with the Sourcing Center and the Cleveland State Levin College of Urban Affairs Public Administration Center.
According to Menesse's memo to Shaker Heights City Council, the communities and UCI want to determine the feasibility of:
- Transportation-based developments that strengthen the housing and jobs linkage between the involved cities and University Circle.
- Taking a partnership approach to expanding and growing businesses in the area. One option is created a shared business accelerator or incubator.
- Tax-base sharing strategies among Heights-area communities and possibly Cleveland.
The Circle Heights Alliance concept came from small-group meetings with the Heights-Hillcrest Regional Chamber of Commerce that begin last spring.
"Bringing professional jobs to this district requires a program of land and building inventories, information, which clearly, and in a district-wide fashion, identifies sites, transit corridors, financing options and demographic profiles," Menesse's memo reads.