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eNEO2050: An Equitable Future for Northeast Ohio

NOACA’s public engagement and participation framework are widely outlined in the Vibrant NEO 2040 and AIM FORWARD 2040 Public Engagement Plans. Together, these documents set the tone and give overall policy direction for public participation in creating a vision to sustain the region’s future economic and community change.  These plans will establish a framework for the 2050 Long Range Plan (eNEO2050), which will allow the region’s stakeholders to influence decisions for both long-term transportation and environmental planning that affects land use, housing, infrastructure investments, multimodal transportation networks, workforce development and quality of life.


The Public Participation Plan outlines the guidance, methods, strategies and engagement activities associated with the planning areas needed to create a comprehensive regional plan, and how stakeholders can actively stay involved with the decision-making of eNEO2050. 


eNEO2050 is also responsive to the compliance regulations provided in federal law (23 §CFR450.316).

Regional Policy Guidance

In June 2009 the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) joined together to create the Partnership for Sustainable Communities (Partnership). The aim of the partnership was to help regions nationwide improve access to affordable housing, increase transportation options, and lower transportation costs while protecting the environment. The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium (NEOSCC) formed in 2011 with a $4.25M grant from the Partnership to address and guide a 12-county Northeast Ohio region (including NOACA and the metropolitan planning organizations for Akron, Canton and Youngstown) to plan for a vibrant and resilient future. 


NEOSCC’s efforts culminated in the development of Vibrant NEO 2040 in 2014 and will be the framework for the eNEO2050 Long Range Plan. eNEO2050 is a regional visioning framework to guide the implementation of recommendations and strategies to help Northeast Ohio achieve goals by 2050. Just as NEOSCC’s mission, NOACA’s objective for the Long Range Plan is to create conditions for a more VIBRANT, RESILIENT, and SUSTAINABLE Northeast Ohio – Northeast Ohio that is full of vitality, a good steward of its built and natural resources, and that is adaptable and responsive to CHANGE. 


It is essential to recognize the relationships among land use, transportation, jobs, housing, infrastructure investment, and environmental quality. It is also essential to support land use patterns and decision-making processes that will:


  • Encourage strategies to promote region-wide economic prosperity and housing equity

  • Support the development of multiple, sustainable means of region-wide travel

  • Restore and enhance NEO’s natural systems and significant built environments

  • Advance cost-effective investment in NEO’s infrastructure and public services

  • Improve environmental quality

  • Build collaborative regional initiatives

  • Catalyze community-focused economic development and place-based community design.

Central to the development of eNEO2050’s public participation initiatives, NOACA will address public reactions and perceptions regarding regional transportation and environmental planning significance. Activities include Crowd Gauging Tools, Opinion Surveys, virtual town hall and virtual block meetings. NOACA will also present up to 3-4 interactive campaigns for the public to submit input through video and public comment portals from a series of regional topics such as “Why the Long Range Plan should be important to you?”; Rural and Urban Mobility Travel; and Workforce Development, to name a few. The plan’s development will center on activities to address the following questions on equity:


  1. What is the community pulse of 2020 vs 2013 when determining the needs of the region? Are the same needs still prevalent after seven years?

  2. Data vs Perception: How have we performed as a region since 2013? How does the data compare with public perception? Do the data and perception reflect the public’s current needs?

  3. How do we collectively collaborate and connect all regional data and planning documents to create a comprehensive regional plan for the next 30 years?

  4. How do we advance the initiatives established in Vibrant NEO 2040 to achieve the vision framed by its goals and objectives through supportive engagement and public participation?

With the development of Vibrant NEO 2040, NOACA underwent a rigorous vetting approach by the public through a comprehensive public participation process in 2013. Efforts to create the regional plan engaged a broad range of stakeholders, including community organizations and advocacy groups. The result of this engagement includes seven outcomes and goals for the plan that will continue to be the focal point of eNEO2050:

  • Goal 1: Enable Inclusive & Transparent Public Planning
    The visioning process to create eNEO2050 actively seeks increased participation and decision-making by populations that have been left out of such processes in the past.

  • Goal 2: Reflect Shared Values
    By establishing a shared vision that all Consortium members support, inconsistent policies and investment decisions can more easily be refined to better effect change.

  • Goal 3: Respect Choice
    Preserving our quality of life, expanding choices for Northeast Ohio’s citizens and respecting local government and individual property rights are essential principles for this process.

  • Goal 4: Promote Informed Decision-Making
    Currently, many decisions and practices are made in the absence of accurate and accessible region-wide or local data. eNEO2050 aspires to provide this missing information and articulate the region’s choices clearly and unambiguously.

  • Goal 5: Coordinate Efforts & Investments
    By relentlessly driving for improvements in how we do business and improving how we plan, Northeast Ohio will be able to eliminate waste of resources and leverage regional assets, investments, and opportunities to their fullest potential.

  • Goal 6: Enable & Promote Action
    The eNEO2050 process is intended to stimulate broad public participation, which will lead to development of a shared regional vision and strategic policy framework, a dashboard of metrics, and a set of tools, policies, and pilot programs that will be politically actionable at many levels of government.

  • Goal 7: Improve Quality of Life
    eNEO2050 will promote integrated regional land use, and housing, transportation, and capital investment planning to enhance the region’s economic competitiveness, increase its resilience, provide its citizens better access to decent, affordable housing, and offer more cost-effective transportation choices.

NOACA will also use the following three principle approaches for goal-focused public participation:

  1. Integration: Integration is the intentional combining of related activities to achieve more effective results, leveraging multiple policy tools to address complex regional challenges and opportunities.

  2. Collaboration: Collaboration recognizes that shared efforts advance our region most effectively toward shared outcomes.

  3. Accountability: Accountability includes a commitment to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of our policies and practices toward achieving shared outcomes and a willingness to adjust course to improve performance.

The three principles are significant to the Public Participation Plan in helping to guide regional planning. Specifically, they are integrated throughout the participation plan to support the approach that will:

  • Reflect the interests and priorities of the diverse stakeholders of the Northeast Ohio planning area – including residents, employers, policymakers, local government officials and staff, developers, and other interested stakeholders.

  • Engage a cross-section of the planning area’s residents from all parts of the area and from a representative range of demographic characteristics (race/ethnicity/nationality, age, and income level).

  • Transcend political differences and transitions by assuring robust participation   by partners, stakeholders, and constituents.

  • Promote a regional approach to economic growth and competitiveness.

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