Vibrant NEO 2040 was a regional planning effort spanning a 12-county area of Northeast Ohio, including the Cleveland, Akron, and Youngstown metro areas. The Sasaki team developed guidelines and recommendations at multiple scales and for a diverse range of community-types, including several major downtown areas. In this context, key themes included economic development, finance, transportation, redevelopment, land use, urban design, recreation, and the environment. When planning for downtown reinvestment, special consideration was paid to the coordination of public and private entities and specific enabling legislature and financing strategies. To validate its recommendations, Sasaki implemented customized economic forecasting and spatially-calibrated fiscal impact models to test various kinds of development and infrastructure.
Outreach and engagement was a major component of the project at all stages. This required consensus building among a complex group of stakeholders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors. The team conducted design workshops at which attendees created their own scenarios, which were digitized and used to guide the eventual plan. The project also included targeted group outreach, open houses, key pad polling events, a media campaign, and a Sasaki-built online tool for exploring regional trade-offs.
The culmination of the project was a master plan and implementation toolbox that could be used by a variety of stakeholders at multiple scales and delivered in both traditional as well as digital formats. Collectively, these deliverables comprised aspirational goals, recommendations, initiatives, indicators, design guidelines, local development strategies, citizen participation opportunities, best practices, case studies, pilots, funding sources, an online engagement platform used for on-going education and outreach, and design specifications for a dashboard to measure plan progress.