A Battle Looms As New Group Plans Summit On Cleveland's Economic Future

Activists demonstrating outside an economic planning meeting hold a sign reading, "Working class not ruling class".
A dozen activists called for a more inclusive planning process in Cleveland on Thursday. [Matt Richmond / ideastream]
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The makeup of a new economic development planning group is raising questions about who’s getting invited to the table.  

The new group met for the first time Thursday in Cleveland while a dozen local activists from Cuyahoga County Progressives, Black Lives Matter and the Democratic Socialists rallied outside.

The 15 organizers of the planning group include Jon Pinney, a lawyer who gave a now famous speech at City Club this summer about Cleveland’s stagnant economy; Chris Quinn, the editor of Cleveland.com and host of the meeting; Akram Boutros, CEO of MetroHealth; Julie Boland, an executive at Ernst & Young; and David Gilbert, CEO of Destination Cleveland.

Activists including Marvetta Rutherford questioned who those already-successful community members were representing.

“See I shouldn’t have to go to 44th and Lorain to see a $700,000 home and nowhere on 55th do you see a $700,000 anything,” said Rutherford. “It’s not being spread out fairly.”

Two meetings this week include the organizers plus about 80 invitation-only community members. Executives at ideastream were invited.

The purpose was to lay the foundation for an economic development summit sometime next year. They haven’t named their group or the initiative.

The activists outside are looking to crash the party. They will begin recruiting community members and campaign to have them added to the select group organizing next year’s summit.

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