$1M avail for big ideas to ease NE Ohio's work transportation issues


CLEVELAND — The Fund for Our Economic Future, in conjunction with the National Fund for Workforce Solutions, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, The Lozick Family Foundation, and DriveOhio, announce the launch of The Paradox Prize.

The Paradox Prize seeks to invest in big ideas that help Northeast Ohioans who are stranded economically by their geography. The ideas will help connect these individuals to tens of thousands of open positions with paths to family-sustaining wages.

Over the next three years, the funders will award up to $1 million to support 15 pilots that test practical solutions that ultimately eradicate The Transportation Paradox.

Proposals are now being accepted at paradoxprize.com.

For decades, industrial, commercial and residential development has migrated outward, but there has been no net increase in jobs or population to substantiate the regional spread. The result: Jobs are farther and farther away from where people live.

Northeast Ohio residents, in turn, face untenable choices: a commute by public transit that can be as long as three hours a day, an expensive commute by car that can consume more than an hour's worth of wages, or a significantly smaller set of employment options.

"Too many residents find themselves stuck in an intractable scenario: no car, no job; no job, no car," said Fund for Our Economic Future Vice President Bethia Burke.

Meanwhile, the increased distance between people and jobs reduces employers' access to workforce and creates hiring and retention challenges, said Marty McGann, senior vice president of advocacy and strategic initiatives at Greater Cleveland Partnership.

"Long commutes increase turnover and, as a result, the cost of doing business," he said. "Ultimately, our regional economy loses its competitive edge."

"The Transportation Paradox can be solved if Northeast Ohio embraces seamless mobility solutions," Burke said. "We are no longer living in a world where transportation options need to be limited by the choice between individualized car ownership or a traditional bus."

Dominic Mathew, director of mobility innovation at the Fund for Our Economic Future, points to potential alternatives like ride-sharing, neighborhood-based designs, van-pooling services, or on-demand services.

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