Independence, OH
Economic Development Strategic Plan

Independence, Ohio was one of the most popular and prestigious office locations in all of northeast Ohio through the 1980’s and 90’s. Along with this impressive office stock along Interstates 77 and 480 (the Cleveland outer belt), the suburb of Cleveland also includes a strong neighborhoods, quality schools, excellent infrastructure and a number of significant natural assets. However, in a region, struggling with economic decline and disinvestment, Independence has not been immune to lowering tide. As a result, community leaders were eager to address the uncertain challenges Independence might soon face in the stiff competition for jobs and investment.


As a partner with economist, Randall Gross, the planning NEXT team developed and facilitated the community engagement strategy for the Economic Development Strategic Planning process. The process sought to identify the key economic assets, liabilities and opportunities for the community through a combination of research and discussion. The team hosted two large public meetings to gather input from residents and business leaders alike.


The final strategic plan calls for a greater focus on the retention of current office, the expansion of recruitment efforts on focus sectors, and finally, the improvement of downtown. It became increasingly clear through the process that one of the key limiting factors to Independence’s continued prosperity was the relative weakness of the community’s downtown. The research and community input indicated that business leaders and young workers were looking for amenity-rich environments that mix homes, workplaces, shopping, and recreation in a walkable areas. Independence does not offer that choice. As a result of the plan, community leaders have begun to identify ways of improving Independence’s image through marketing and strategic investment.