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Cleveland’s final round of ARPA spending includes $163 million for job creation, infrastructure

Andrew Meyer
Ideastream Public Media

In the final and largest round of pandemic relief stimulus fund plans, Mayor Justin Bibb laid groundwork to create jobs for Clevelanders and invest big in infrastructure.

The $163 million proposal will likely close out the city’s $500 million-plus share of pandemic relief dollars coming from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“In this latest round of investments, our last docket of ARPA investments, we’re really focused on the long term economic transformation and economic recovery of the city,” Bibb told Ideastream on Wednesday.

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Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb

Bibb calls the plan an “investment in Cleveland’s future,” laying out plans for immediate assistance, like $10 million toward down-payment assistance for residents, but also millions toward endowment and long-term planning funds that he hopes the city will reap for decades to come.

Nearly a third of the spending will go toward a Site Assembly Fund, created in partnership with JobsOhio and the Cuyahoga County Land Bank that will be governed by an advisory board. With a $50 million investment, the fund will be used to buy up vacant land in the city and prepare it to be shovel-ready to sell to companies for commercial use.

The administration said the effects will be three-fold: not only could it create 65,000 jobs for residents and minimize now-vacant land, they expect it to reverse population loss through employment and future development opportunities.

“In many cases right now, we’re losing out on these opportunities because we don’t have sites ready to go,” Bibb said.

The spending plan also makes good on Bibb’s promises to revitalize the city’s lakefront and East Side. $20 million will be directed toward waterfront activation, including projects like the Beulah Park-Euclid Beach Connector and other infrastructure to improve access and public space on the East Side’s lakefront.

Lake Erie Ganzer.jpg
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Cleveland's lakefront

In addition, $15 million is laid out specifically for Southeast Side investments, which include plans to build up commercial corridors in Lee-Harvard, Union Miles and other predominantly-Black Southeast neighborhoods through public art, streetscaping, commercial property acquisition and more. The city also intends to repair up to 200 homes in the area.

“The southeast side has been historically disinvested for generations,” Bibb said. “Because of its lack of investment, we’ve seen so many adverse impacts, whether it be increased gun violence… overall just a lack of economic opportunity.”

He said the goal is to make these areas neighborhoods of choice and restore the city’s Black middle class.

Other investment plans include:

  • “Back to basics” capital fund: $20 million toward roadway and park improvements, traffic calming methods, safety and multimodal enhancements.
  • West Side Market: $15 million for capital improvements and transition costs for the multi-stalled indoor/outdoor market, as a nonprofit takes over operations.
  • Cleveland neighborhood safety fund: $10 million will go toward one of the first-of-its kind violence prevention fund, which will be established to create long-term, perpetual support for community-driven programming to address the root cause of violence. It will be an endowment fund, and the city expects $13 million in grantmaking over the next 25 years.
  • Catalytic Neighborhood Investments: $35 million for neighborhood projects identified by Cleveland City Council members
  • Utility Assistance: $1 million for one-time benefits offered to customers on a payment-plan due to economic hardships suffering from the pandemic
  • Age friendly home repair: $1.1 million
  • Medical debt relief: $1.9 million
  • Cleveland tenants organization: $1 million

The plan will be introduced to Cleveland City Council next week with support from Council President Blaine Griffin following negotiations. If council passes the proposed allocations, all ARPA dollars will be allocated before 2024, per federal guidelines.
Previous ARPA allocations included education and workforce investments, an overhaul of the city's 311 services, additional social services and more.

Abbey Marshall covers Cleveland-area government and politics for Ideastream Public Media.