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Experts discuss creating a TIF to spur downtown and waterfront development in Cleveland

Kenneth Sponsler
Downtown Cleveland from Lake Erie

There's been no shortage of big ideas about how to transform downtown Cleveland. Many of those ideas have hinged on developing the Lake Erie waterfront and Cuyahoga Riverfront to reach their full potential. But that costs big money, and Cleveland isn't exactly flush.

Mayor Justin Bibb has an idea for raising the big money needed for transformational development. He has proposed creating a special taxing district, known as a tax increment financing district or TIF. It would capture and leverage downtown tax growth and plow it back into Cleveland development. It's been dubbed "Shore-to-Core-to-Shore."

The mayor said earlier this year that the city has a "once in a lifetime" opportunity to make Cleveland a two-waterfront gem and improve the quality of life for residents.

The city estimates that over the life of the TIF, between $3.5 and $7.5 billion could be raised over the next 42 years.

But not everyone is convinced that creating a special taxing district to fund development is the right move. What will be the impact of diverting taxes that might have gone to libraries or county services? Will the growth happen, and the revenue pour in, as forecasted? There are still many questions.

The TIF is one of the biggest policy undertakings that Cleveland has ever pursued, and we will be hearing about the "Core-to-Shore-to-Core" a lot more in the weeks and months to come.

To begin Wednesday's "Sound of Ideas," we gather experts for a discussion about what a TIF is, how it works, the potential benefits and potential drawbacks.

Later, we will discuss the MetroHealth System’s decision to cancel medical debt for more than 290,000 of its patients in Northeast Ohio. The combined total of the debt forgiven is more than $200 million.


-Jeff Epstein, Chief of Integrated Development, City of Cleveland
-Terry Coyne, Vice Chairman, Newmark
-Zach Schiller, Research Director, Policy Matters Ohio
-Mary Ann Olschlager, Director of Revenue Cycle Operations, The MetroHealth System
-Shannon Thomas, Customer Service Supervisor, The MetroHealth System
-Ruth Landé, Vice President of Hospital Relations, RIP Medical Debt

Leigh Barr is a coordinating producer for the "Sound of Ideas" and the "Sound of Ideas Reporters Roundtable."
Jenny Hamel is the host of the “Sound of Ideas.”