The Greater Cleveland Civic Connection traces its origins to the fiscal rubble of the City of Cleveland’s default in 1978. Cleveland was the first U.S. city since the Great Depression that failed to meet its financial obligations. The city’s finances and reputation were badly damaged. George V. Voinovich was elected mayor the following year and immediately began to forge a collaboration between the city government and Greater Cleveland’s business community. 

This public-private partnership would become Mayor Voinovich’s foundation upon which he would resurrect Cleveland’s collapsed finances and image. “Together, we can do it,” was one of his favored rallying slogans.  

George VoinovichVoinovich had a distinguished career as a public official, including terms as governor and U.S. Senator.  But many believe that his finest accomplishment as an officeholder involved his challenging, successful restoration of fiscal integrity to his beleaguered hometown. Under Voinovich, Cleveland emerged from default, in large part the result of the vital cooperation between the public and private sectors that he championed.   

And that vital collaboration led to the formation in 1984 of Build Up Greater Cleveland (BUGC), which was created to help sustain the city’s public-private partnership. 

BUGC focused upon key infrastructure investment in the region, promoting billions of dollars in crucial spending on roads, bridges, waste water treatment, clean water and more.

In 2016, BUGC’s mission broadened, and its name changed to the Greater Cleveland Civic Connection. An initiative of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP), the Civic Connection promotes regular collaboration between private sector leadership and five vital public agencies: The City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA), the Port of Cleveland and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD). 

While infrastructure remains among the group’s primary priorities, it works to facilitate wider-ranging economic development goals.        

The Civic Connection is honored to work with its public partners and the business community to grow this fruitful partnership that was created nearly 40 years ago by the late mayor.