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CDA’s New Markets Tax Credits help finance
Steelyard Commons expansion

Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA), the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s real estate and business development finance affiliate, utilized $6 million of its 2013 New Markets Tax Credits (NMTC) allocation toward the expansion of Steelyard Commons. 

Project financing, which also included a $2 million NMTC allocation from JP Morgan Chase, conventional financing, and tax increment financing, closed last week.

The $20 million second phase includes a total of 90,000 square feet, anchored by the Burlington Coat Factory and is expected to create 140 additional jobs.

The first phase of Steelyard Commons brought over 700,000 square feet of retail and restaurants, a playground, hiking and biking trails to the heart of the city on a site that was once an abandoned steel mill.  Since opening in 2007, the regional shopping center has created 1,100 jobs, 82 percent of which are filled by City of Cleveland residents. 

Plans for additional development at Steelyard Commons had been delayed due to the recession and its impact on national retail tenants.  This project is able to move forward at this time because of the equity investment generated by the NMTC allocation.

The shopping center has had a significant impact on the community by providing a major boost to the local economy and improving the quality of life for those residing in the area.

Besides the much needed jobs and new tax revenue, especially for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, Steelyard Commons has turned a once-abandoned steel mill into a premier regional power center that provides numerous benefits and services to the community it serves.

GCP, others press for immigration reform

In keeping with the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s position on immigration reform, last week the GCP Advocacy Team traveled to Washington, D.C. with the U.S. Chamber and chamber partners in the Great Lakes region to advocate for immigration reform.

Over 600 travelers from industry, business, agriculture,  the religious community, and grassroots organizations participated in the event.  Meetings focused on the House of Representatives, which has taken a piecemeal approach to reform by introducing multiple pieces of legislation covering separate policy items in each.

Although the topic of immigration reform has many facets, GCP has focused its efforts on increasing the number of high-skilled visas, known as H1-B visas and the creation of High Skilled Immigration Zones, which would allocate a block of visas to geographic areas experiencing high unemployment.

High-skilled visas increase in Senate-passed bill

The advocacy effort has resulted in an increase of the number of visas within the Senate- passed bill, as well as an increase in the House committee’s version of this legislation. Collectively, GCP, along with the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, continues to pursue a strategy to include the High Skill Immigration Zone proposal either as stand-alone legislation or as an amendment to a bill once it comes to the floor for a vote.

The turnout of supporters from a wide range of interests was impressive, but it remains to be seen if it will move the meter in terms of congressional action. Based on conversations with Members of Congress, it appears there will be two windows of opportunity for action: prior to the end of the year, which seems unlikely due to the congressional calendar, or as part of the January/February deadlines for addressing the Continuing Resolution and Debt Limit increase. With congressional elections on the horizon, the likelihood of legislation moving decreases with each passing day.

Another factor to consider is whether House Republicans are willing to negotiate with the Senate and the President. It was made clear to attendees that the relationship between both chambers, as well as with the Administration, suffered significant damage as a result of the shutdown and debt ceiling debate. Consequently, significant movement may be delayed until after the 2016 presidential election.

In spite of these potential headwinds, GCP will continue to remain engaged and active on the issue.

GCP urging “yes” vote on four levies

Tomorrow is Election Day, and if you are going to the polls, the Greater Cleveland Partnership is urging you to vote yes on these four levies: 

Issue 1: Health and Human Services Levy

Without voter approval, of Issue 1, Cuyahoga County’s health and human services  programs will lose $76 million in funding by the end of 2014, forcing deep cuts to vital emergency services and programs that protect children, help people living with mental illness, and provide a variety of services that seniors depend on.  

Issue 79: Cleveland Public Library Levy

Issue 79, a 5.8 mill renewal levy, is not a tax increase. It provides nearly half of Cleveland Public Library’s annual operating budget and is the Library’s only local operating support.   

Issue 80: Cleveland Metroparks Levy

Issue 80, the Cleveland Metroparks Levy, a 1.8 mill levy renewal plus a 0.9 mill increase, is the first request for public support from Cleveland Metroparks in nine years. As one of Ohio’s oldest and most extensively used metropolitan park districts, the Metroparks has a significant impact on our community.

Issue 82: Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Levy

Issue 82, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Levy, is a renewal of the current tax levy and will not raise taxes. The millage of the Port Authority levy has not changed in 45 years and is the smallest countywide property tax in Cuyahoga County.

Former state legislators among special guests at Public Officials Reception

The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s 50th annual Public Officials Reception and Reunion on Friday, November 22 will honor several former public officials who have contributed to the progress, economic growth and future of Greater Cleveland.

Please plan to join us at Windows on the River for this very special night of networking and kick off the holiday season with our community's business and community leaders. Click here for more information and to RSVP. 

Special guests include two former members who both served in the Ohio House and Senate: Jo Ann Davidson and Patrick Sweeney.

Jo Ann Davidson: Ohio House of Representatives – 1981-2000; Speaker of the House – 1995-2000

The first woman to serve as speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, the Columbus area legislator has advocated for programs and legislation that have significantly benefited Cleveland.

Ms. Davidson played an instrumental role in helping to expedite the construction of the stadium for the Cleveland Browns. She has also been a supporter of the state’s Third Frontier program, which has been an invaluable catalyst for job creation and economic development in Greater Cleveland.

Patrick Sweeney:  Ohio Senate – 1997-1998; Ohio House of Representatives – 1967-1997

Mr. Sweeney served more than 30 years in the Ohio legislature representing Greater Cleveland and left his footprints on an array of significant projects that helped move the city forward.

He served in multiple leadership positions in the legislature, including Majority Whip and as chairman of the House Finance and Appropriations Committee. Mr. Sweeney was a pivotal player in the revitalization of PlayhouseSquare and the expansion of Cleveland State University including construction of the Wolstein Center.

U.S. mid-market companies continue revenue, employment growth in 3Q 2013

U.S. middle market companies extended their solid revenue and employment gains during the third quarter of 2013 and anticipate those trends will continue over the next 12 months, according to the National Center for the Middle Market’s (NCMM) 3Q 2013 Middle Market Indicator (MMI) report released last week. Those gains, however, are predicted to come at a decelerating pace.

The MMI, which surveys 1,000 C-suite executives of companies with annual revenues between $10 million and $1 billion, reports that revenue growth continued during the third quarter with 62 percent reporting top-line improvements during the past 12 months. That’s up from 51 percent in the third quarter last year and flat compared to the 60 percent in 2Q 2013.

The mean revenue growth declined to 5.5 percent, its lowest gain since reaching that number a year earlier. Companies also expect performance to improve in 2014, with 60 percent projecting revenue growth on average at 4.4 percent. That’s down from 5.1 percent in the second quarter of this year but still an increase from the 3.7 percent forecast in the previous year.

Employment growth continues but could slow

The 3Q 2012 MMI also found that four of 10 companies said they added workers, on par with results over the previous quarter and up from 35 percent a year earlier. These companies reported mean job growth of 2.8 percent, up from 2.2 percent a year ago and 2.6 percent in the second quarter of this year.

About the Middle Market Indicator

Released quarterly by the National Center for the Middle Market, a collaboration between The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and GE Capital, the Middle Market Indicator is the only resource of its type, providing performance data and forward-thinking insight on the middle market.

Visit the NCMM website to view or download the report.

Employers share workforce development successes, challenges

Last Monday, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Employment Connection hosted the SWAG, Employer-Job Seeker Alignment Roundtable at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.

Its discussions focused on how to re-design workforce development programs to fit business needs. Dave Reines, executive director of Employment Connection (left in photo with GCP’s Shawn DaVis, senior director, business development), moderated the opening panel.

The Roundtable event was an informational sharing session targeted at creating a more efficient and functional system that will provide better alignment and, as a result, better qualified candidates for the business community. The event was well-received with approximately 75 people representing the private, not for profit and government sectors.

The morning kicked off with an opening panel discussion that included three Workforce Investment Board members: Joseph Calabrese, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority; Kevin Dobbins, Dominion Resources; and Kim Shelnick, University Hospitals. Robin Doerschuk from Alliance Solutions Group also was on the panel that shared challenges and successes in dealing with the current labor pool.

Three breakout sessions followed the opening panel:

Hiring Persons with Barriers to Employment – Group Leader Jill Rizica, Towards Employment; panelists: Kelly Petty, Cuyahoga County Board of Developmental Disabilities; Sean Kinicklis, Buckeye Industries; Steve Kowalski, Kowalski Heat Treating; and Mary Donnell, Green City Cooperative.

Tackling the Issue of “Soft Skills” – Group Leader Dave Megenhardt, United Labor Agency; panelists: Christi Bittner, The Reserves Network; Robin Smalley, Towards Employment.

What are “Stackable Certificates” and How Can Employers Best Use Them – Group Leaders Dave McAtee, Cuyahoga Community College, and Mary Ann Pacelli, MAGNET.

“Our intent of the event was to talk to the employers to find out what their needs were,” said Reines. “We felt that, in order to get involvement from the private sector, it was necessary to partner with the Greater Cleveland Partnership. By all accounts, through the event, we were successful in engaging the employers and gaining a better perspective of their workforce needs.”

The event was successful in its intent to bring together the private sector, not-for-profit and government entities tasked with employee work readiness, to share successes and to discuss challenges in finding qualified employees. Future efforts will focus on getting more businesses engaged to help effectively and efficiently direct the limited resources available to meet their workforce needs.

Reserve your VIP ticket for upcoming Ideas for Tomorrow programs

We’re pleased to extend a special VIP invitation to Greater Cleveland Partnership Investor members to three upcoming programs in the Cleveland Clinic Ideas for Tomorrow speaker series (in photo left to right):

  • Thursday, Nov. 21: Ariana Huffington, chair, president, and editor-in-chief of Huffington Post Media Group;
  • Tuesday, Nov. 26, Mark Tercek, president and CEO, The Nature Conservancy, and
  • Monday, Dec. 2, Don Berwick, former administrator, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services .

There is a limited number of VIP tickets, so don’t wait! RSVP now! Reserve your place for the program(s) you would like to attend by calling the Investor Hotline 216.592.2370 or by email to vip@gcpartnership.com.

United releases Corporate Responsibility Report

United Airlines recently released its annual Corporate Responsibility Report to highlight its work to operate a socially, environmentally and financially responsible business in a way that benefits customers, co-workers, investors and the environment they share. Highlights include:

Click here to read more.