Written by Alvaro Sanchez Sanchez, Senior Associate of Green For All
Performing operations and maintenance on green infrastructure projects in the Northeast Ohio area has the potential to create 219 jobs and over $23 million in economic activity. These jobs not only represent substantial local economic development activity, they also preserve the long-term health and performance of new green infrastructure projects, and can offer valuable career entry points to people with barriers to employment.
These are the major findings in the new report Seeing Green: Green Infrastructure Maintenance Training and Workforce Development Opportunities in Northeast Ohio, released by Green For All, LAND Studio, and The Center for Economic Development of the Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University.
The goal of the report’s research was to understand the state of existing green infrastructure maintenance in Cleveland, and to project future needs based on anticipated green infrastructure investments by the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), the City of Cleveland, and private institutions. The report is broken down into three chapters, summarized here.
Green Infrastructure Potential and the National Story
The first chapter is based on Green For All’s research on green infrastructure and jobs at the national level. It suggests that as the country reinvests in its water infrastructure in new ways, blending traditional gray infrastructure with green infrastructure, cities are able to reap community benefits. Green infrastructure offers accessible job opportunities and “triple bottom line” benefits that can be realized through a number of channels, including workforce development programs. Five practices for creating a successful workforce development program are highlighted in the report, with examples of how each is implemented differently around the country.
Green Infrastructure Potential and the Local Story
The second chapter summarizes The Center’s economic impact assessment of the maintenance of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s green infrastructure implemented as a part of Project Clean Lake. The sewer district will be required to maintain this green infrastructure in perpetuity and ensure its proper functioning. With that requirement, it is possible to assess both the maintenance costs and the regional economic impact of the maintenance of the sewer district’s green infrastructure.
It is expected that the maintenance cost of all of Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District’s green infrastructure from 2020 to 2024 will be approximately $11 million. That spending will create a total of 219 jobs, 146 of which will be directly related to the maintenance of green infrastructure. While only sewer district-related green infrastructure maintenance jobs were assessed in this study, it is expected that the number of jobs created will be greater due to the installation and maintenance of green infrastructure by entities other than the sewer district, including organizations and municipalities.
Zone Recreation Center - Green Infrastructure project in Cleveland
Greater Cleveland and Green Infrastructure: a Need for Maintenance Training The third chapter outlines an immediate need for developing a green infrastructure maintenance training program in the Greater Cleveland area, and foresees potential to grow a workforce development program to complement the training program. Eight local organizations are profiled based on their ability to play a role in either a training or a workforce development program. In addition to the eight organizations highlighted in this report, there is an ongoing conversation about the need to educate all levels of the community in Northeast Ohio about stormwater management—from school-aged children to governmental officials, grounds maintenance workers, and everyday residents.