cleveland foundation president touts civic innovation at annual meeting

Before a packed house at Severance Hall, Cleveland Foundation President Ronn Richard touted the city's accomplishments in becoming a hub of innovation and taking bold steps to address big problems at the foundation's annual meeting this Tuesday.

Waxing poetic on the gilded stage for a moment, Richard harkened back to the foundation's early days in the 1910's as a time of tremendous innovation in Cleveland. "I still wonder if the past might be prologue," he mused, noting that the foundation's centennial is just two years away. "Can we envision the spirit of a second renaissance in Cleveland?"

Richard also posed a challenge to civic leaders to remain focused on true economic development and social change within the city. "Physical development, as wonderful as it is, must be coupled with investment in people and placemaking," he said, noting that the building spree of the 1990s was too focused on bricks and mortar projects. "We need to invest in connecting communities."

Among the foundation's projects, Richard touted the Cleveland schools plan that recently passed the state legislature, ongoing investments in high quality urban education, economic development programs such as the HealthTech Corridor and the Evergreen Cooperatives, and programs to connect new audiences to the arts.

Richard also told the audience that later this year the Cleveland Foundation will unveil a new microlending program for entrepreneurs seeking loans under $50,000 to help spur job creation and assist the creation of startups.

Source: Ronn Richard
Writer: Lee Chilcote
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