Thanks to President Obama for mentioning Cleveland in his speech last week. The thought was a nice sentiment.
So forgive me if I don’t take his words to heart.
They sounded nice…but I don’t have much faith in politicians right now. Not when the area is sitting in a two-decade developmental purgatory thanks to corrupt county officials.
Our politicians talk a good talk and make promises of things to come, but the talk becomes both the start- and finish-line. Frank Jackson wants to develop the Lakefront? Great, sounds good. But we’ve heard it all before, and the lake, a blank canvas to create something unique, still sits waiting to live up to its potential.
Then there’s Medical Mart. Will that ever be finished?
There are parts of the city that are developing nicely, but not because Obama or any other politician in the past twenty years has talked about it. Instead, Clevelanders have taken it upon themselves to make it happen.
On its way to becoming the new choice neighborhood in Cleveland, Ohio City is going through a major boom. Small bars, restaurants, and shops share the neighborhood with the likes of the more known Crop Bistro and Great Lakes Brewing Company. Plans for a hostel in the area will potentially attract more visitors.
In Downtown, East 4th has been turned into a major draw. Big-name chefs like Michael Symon and Jonathon Sawyer, among others, have taken root there along with local shopping via The Dredgers Union and C.L.E. Clothing.
Both of these areas have been influenced by developer and local boy, Ari Maron.
While the efforts of Maron and his family need to be recognized, so do the efforts of the business owners who are adding to the neighborhoods. Ohio City, Little Italy, Tremont, Coventry, Gordon Square…all are being transformed into little urban enclaves, each with their own flavor, because of the efforts of locals. Not politicians.
In this current trend away from big-box blandness, the locals that open their businesses in neighborhoods and make them vibrant again are boosting Cleveland and the local economy. Let’s hope this trend continues for years to come.
Staying in Cleveland, and building a successful career as an artist or entrepreneur is hard…harder than other cities with better reputations – and better politicians. But doesn’t that make the success even better? Making a difference in Cleveland?
Because that is what will push Cleveland forward. Not fancy words from elected officials.