January 24, 2012
Agenda 360 releases Community Update
When the Chamber launched Agenda 360, our regional action plan, in 2009, the U.S. economy had not reached its nadir. Even now, more than two years later, economists are mixed in their assessments of when our economy will recover, or if it is permanently reset.
That picture is mirrored here in our region, where unemployment is still above 8 percent and foreclosures continue to tear at the tight fabric of our neighborhoods. There are more people in poverty today than just two years ago and we are still experiencing some degree of “brain drain.”
So it would be easy to look at the ambitious goals set for Agenda 360 and think about dialing them back. After all, if you’re 61,800+ jobs down, it’s hard to imagine that we could create 200,000 new ones by 2020. Yet Mary Stagaman, executive director of Agenda 360, and her team remain confident that the goals can be achieved over time, in no small part because there is a plan. A plan that is focused on actions that will make our region more competitive and move it into the top ranks of comparable regions nationwide. Why the optimism? Because of the vital steps taken to progress since Agenda 360 was unveiled.
The Community Update includes a summary of key initiatives and programs that Agenda 360 is leading, supporting, or monitoring and meet just a few of the many people leading change in our region.
Included among them are:
- A new strategy for The Cincinnati USA Partnership, our leading economic development entity, which will move us to a cluster-based approach to attracting new businesses and growing those at home, building more jobs in the process.
- A high-level task force that is examining our regional infrastructure to support innovation and is committed to building out the necessary “eco-system” and venture capital to support startups and young companies, the prime producers of new jobs.
- Increasing collaboration with our counterpart in Northern Kentucky, Vision 2015, fueled by our belief that internal competition is antithetical to healthy growth for our region.
- An ongoing regional indicators report that benchmarks our economy against 11 peer regions across the country—our real competition for people and jobs.
- The bold goals set by our partners at United Way to make sure that everyone in our region has access to the experiences and services that lead to healthy lifestyles and sufficient education to find and maintain gainful employment.
- Increasing commitment from community funders to support the Agenda’s collaborative initiatives—including a five-year investment by The Greater Cincinnati Foundation acknowledging Agenda 360 as a “backbone” organization for our region.
- A newly energized cohort of corporate, civic, and elected leadership inspired by our visits to other regions and ready to lead change in our community. Still, there’s much more work to do, so you’ll find in this report our straightforward projections on what it will take to reach our goals by 2020.
The report also includes more information on the key strategies and initiatives that will support Agenda 360’s success, and the opportunity to meet some of the people who are working each day to transform Cincinnati USA into a leading region for jobs, talent, and economic opportunity for all who call this region home.