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Senator Brown, Mayor Jackson, Local and State Officials to Host Economic Inclusion Forum

March 28, 2011

Economic Inclusion ForumCLEVELAND - March 28, 2011 - Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) are hosting the first-ever forum on economic inclusion in the public sector on Thursday, March 31, at Cleveland State University's Nance College of Business. This invitation-only event will bring together more than 70 federal, state and local elected officials and public agency leaders to take part in a working session focused on economic inclusion and job creation for women, minorities and small businesses. 

Officials are invited to share best practices about how they are currently improving access to opportunities for small and disadvantaged firms, as well as collectively leveraging the historic transportation and infrastructure projects that can bolster Northeast Ohio's economic-inclusion efforts. This session will create connectivity among and between elected officials, public agencies and project owners, and construction firms around the issue of economic inclusion in transportation and infrastructure.

"Historically, the people that helped to build the city of Cleveland called it home," said Cleveland Mayor Jackson.  "I want to return to that tradition and make sure those Cleveland residents, female and minority-owned businesses, and local companies benefit from this most recent significant investment in our infrastructure."

With $689 million in active transportation projects taking place in the Greater Cleveland region, federal and state agencies will pay out approximately $200 million in transportation funds this year alone.  Additional infrastructure and planned developments, including the Interstate 90 Inner Belt Bridge, bring that number to more than $2 billion in the next five years.
Many of these developments rely on public funds and public agencies. Ensuring supplier diversity and inclusion on each project is a top priority.

"Now is the most important time to focus on sustainable economic development. If we do not improve our engagement of small businesses, we are not serving our economic goals at all," said ODOT Deputy Director Myron S. Pakush.  "This is not about programs or hand-outs - it's about the smart purchasing of goods and services from qualified, professional companies who happen to be minority-owned and woman-owned."

"For families, business owners, recent college graduates and local leaders, economic opportunity should know no barriers," Senator Brown said. "This forum is a part of a continued effort to eliminate the obstacles to economic growth by encouraging economic inclusion and job creation for women and minorities in Northeast Ohio."

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