CLEVELAND -- Northeast Ohio's population has declined the last 40 years while people moved further away from each other.
The are the facts and figures organizations like the Fund for Our Economic Future deal with, while trying to find solutions which are good for all the people of Northeast Ohio.
"We really do need to come together around a picture of how we can all benefit through collective growth, rather than just some places benefitting and not others," says Brad Whitehead, who oversees the Fund's grantmaking, research and civic engagement efforts as its president.
He points to the "sprawl" of the last 40 years, which has seen the population of major cities including Cleveland, Akron, Canton, and Youngstown decline, as people move further and further into previously sparsely settled areas.
The population of the 12 county area which makes up the Fund's main area of work is down 7 percent since 1970, a decline of nearly 300,000 thousand from a peak population of more than 4.1 million.
Whitehead says priorities in building infrastructure in part led to the migration of people away from city centers. He says some of those priorities are still in place.
"We're literally drowning in concrete, and that prevents us being able to invest in things that we know grow jobs and the economy," Whitehead told WKYC, "education, innovation, and the like. So figuring this out helps all of us."
"Our land use patterns and infrastructure growth really have been the silent killers of our local economy, because this path we have been on is simply unsustainable if we're to achieve the kind of economic future we want."
The Fund for Our Economic Future partners with other organizations working on priorities and plans for the future vitality of Northeast Ohio. Among its research efforts is the Dashboard of Economic Indictors.
This offers a detailed economic analysis of more than 330 metropolitan areas within the United States. The Fund uses the Dashboard to identify common characteristics of high-growth regions and to assess how our region's economy is performing in comparison to other markets.