The Minnesota-based Center for Economic Inclusion (The Center) and Cleveland-based Team NEO today announced a groundbreaking partnership designed to close the racial wealth gap and create a more just, inclusive and equitable economy in the Northeast Ohio Region. Called the Northeast Ohio Equity Trust, the partnership creates a collaborative learning and action network with access to The Center’s proprietary racial equity tools and analytics.
The Northeast Ohio Equity Trust will bring together more than 20 regional employers and policy makers,
providing data-informed strategies that support anti-racist actions to transform the outcomes and
experience of their employees, supply chains, and communities.
The benefits of equitable economic development have been documented in several studies, including
The Brookings Institution’s The Economic Gains from Equity which estimated that “the US economy
would be $2.6 trillion larger if gaps in labor market opportunities and returns (by race and gender) were
eliminated.” Additionally, according to a recent McKinsey study, the northeast Ohio regional economy
could grow by up to $7 billion (about $22 per person in the US) by closing the racial wealth gap between
Black and white businesses and people.
“The Northeast Ohio Region is a community rich with talent, diversified industries, and tremendous
assets that position the region well to compete in the global marketplace. The region’s ability to make
inclusion a verb and produce equity that changes the lives of its Black and Brown residents will be the
sustaining competitive factor,” said Tawanna A. Black, Founder and CEO of the Center for Economic
Inclusion. “We are honored to join forces with Team NEO to help businesses and local governments,
foundations, and community based organizations invest in the solutions that will create sustainable
economic mobility with and for Black, Indigenous, Asian, and Latino innovators and job creators through
the Equity Trust.”
Among the tools that The Center brings to the work is its proprietary Indicators for an Inclusive Regional
Economy, a data disaggregating tool designed to support communities seeking to make key data more
widely available as a means of holding all employers accountable for accelerating inclusive economic
mobility for all. This national best practice can be scaled to create greater impact in regional economies
across the United States.
The Center conducted a competitive search for a strategic partner that supports economic development
and business leaders in developing goals, capabilities, practices, and strategic investments that center
economic and racial inclusion as key economic objectives. The search identified Team NEO, the only
organization working to advance economic development in the 18 counties of the Northeast Ohio
Region, and which launched The Vibrant Economy Index in 2022.
“We sought the opportunity to work with the Center for Economic Inclusion to bring added capacity and
expertise to the work that we are doing to build a talented, equitable, innovative, and resilient economy
that offers opportunities for everyone in the Northeast Ohio Region to participate in the prosperity we
create,” said Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO. “We are committed to engaging our economic
development partners, civic leaders and business leaders and leveraging The Center’s expertise to
advance the important work of removing systemic barriers to income equality and equitable economic
The Northeast Ohio Equity Trust was formally launched at a Sept. 28 event in Cleveland.