The smart growth challenge in Ohio: A strategic analysis
by David Beach, EcoCity Cleveland
for the Funders' Network for Smart Growth
and Livable Communities
September 2002

The Funders' Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities is a network of foundations based in the United States and Canada that are interested in expanding their individual and collective abilities to support organizations promoting smart growth and livable communities. To help achieve this mission, the Funders' Network, in concert with interested funders, is undertaking a strategic assessment of the smart growth and livable communities movement nationally and in selected regions. Purposes of this assessment are to network leaders from multiple disciplines and to identify critical opportunities that can be seized in the coming years to raise the movement's impact through policy reform.

The foundation of the assessment process is a series of one-day gatherings that bring together key individuals to share information, network with one another, and offer insights to inform the assessment process. One of these meetings, for the State of Ohio, was held on September 19, 2002 in Cleveland. Meeting hosts included the Cleveland Foundation, Columbus Foundation, Greater Cincinnati Foundation, George Gund Foundation, and Ohio Grantmakers Forum.

The meeting provided an opportunity for participants to review the background of smart growth advocacy in Ohio, clarify barriers to continue progress, and identify resources needed to succeed in the future. This paper (or "policy scan") was commissioned as a discussion document for the meeting.

The Ohio gathering generated enthusiasm for a stronger commitment to advancing smart growth issues. Participants agreed that Ohio has significant land use problems and is falling behind other states that are adopting smart growth programs. Although they recognized the current political difficulties of moving major policy reforms in Ohio, they concluded that the demand for reform was growing across the state and that now was the time for action. Finally, they agreed to explore the development of a statewide organizing campaign.


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