By RAY LEACH and KIP CLARKE
There’s no question that Cleveland has been on the upswing in recent years, with our booming culinary and cultural scenes, downtown residency reaching new heights, and even our beloved sports teams enjoying success. But not everyone has benefited from the current boom, and that needs to change. The public, private and nonprofit sectors need to do more to bring economic opportunity to everyone, including those in our city’s most underserved neighborhoods. Our corporate community in particular has a unique opportunity — and, we feel, an obligation — to lead by example.
That’s one reason why on July 31 JumpStart Inc. and KeyBank took a dramatic step forward to deepen our partnership. KeyBank has been JumpStart’s most significant single corporate partner in the 13-year history of the organization in terms of funding, board leadership and community engagement. Our partnership has helped to create more than 11,000 new jobs, and had $1.5 billion in economic impact in Ohio in 2016 alone — $150 million of which was created by minority entrepreneurs.
Seeing the proven impact we can have when we work together led the KeyBank Foundation to make the largest gift in its history, by a wide margin — $24 million over four years to JumpStart. The funds will support programs in Ohio and upstate New York, including the cities of Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Albany. It will enable JumpStart to expand the support and structure it provides to individuals, entrepreneurs and small business owners, create thousands of jobs, and prepare students for careers in the growing technology, service and manufacturing industries.
In Cleveland in particular, the KeyBank Foundation grant will help us take giant steps forward in addressing one of…