A former CIA executive, Ronn Richard, helped create a program to make opportunity in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Cleveland, Ohio.

The Cleveland consortium created a solar company, a company to grow lettuce and a commercial laundry. Rodin, too, had created with Penn’s Wharton school a commercial laundry in West Philadelphia, but these cooperatives near University Circle would borrow heavily from the Mondragon example. Symbolizing renewal and environmental consciousness, the three-acre greenhouse, cavernous as a Wal-Mart and capable of producing 100,000 heads of lettuce monthly, even in a Cleveland winter, rose from the ruins of 35 abandoned homes. The cooperatives constituted the first commercial investments in neighborhoods like Glenville in three decades. “We wanted to make a statement,” recalls Richard. “We’re not abandoning these neighborhoods. We care about these neighborhoods, not just educated whites and Asian-Americans. We’ll succeed or fail together.”

Click here to read more about how Richard and a new breed of lettuce is helping to transform Cleveland.