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GCP Annual Meeting outlines 2014 priorities, highlights 10-year accomplishments; Governor Kasich delivers keynote address


More than 1500 business and community leaders joined us at the 2014 Annual Meeting on April 2 at the Cleveland Convention Center. The packed house heard updates on GCP priorities from GCP Board Chair Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp, and GCP President and CEO Joe Roman.

Mooney’s report included an update on the continuing transformation of downtown, as the work of the Group Plan Commission moves forward with a full head of steam.

“I‘m pleased to report that we expect to break ground on Public Square later this year and the goal is to complete the entire project by the summer of 2016,” she said.

"The redesign and revitalization of Public Square, the enhancement of the downtown Mall, and the creation of an iconic pedestrian connection between downtown and the lakefront will leverage downtown Cleveland’s $3 billion plus in significant capital projects and spur additional growth.”

She also highlighted the work of the GCP Air Service Demand Task Force through which GCP continues to provide business community input and support to Mayor Jackson and Port Control Director Ricky Smith as the City pursues opportunities to replace as well as increase service to priority destinations and implement the Airport Master Plan.

“Recent announcements have already shown why this change of Hub status is quite different from other cities that have experienced similar changes,” Mooney said. “Our origination and destination market is much stronger than other cities that have lost their hubs and our travel and tourism assets are some of the best in the country. We are all working to attain that delicate balance required to pursue strategic opportunities while continuing to maintain the relationship with United who will remain our dominant carrier for years to come.“

2004-2014: From “on the edge” to $18 billion in capital investment

GCP President and CEO Joe Roman noted that the organization’s first strategic plan, “Cleveland on the Edge,” written in 2004, highlighted the precarious state of the Northeast Ohio economy. By 2014, $18 billion in capital investment has been completed or is under way in the region.

“Progress takes time,” Roman said, “But we are moving the needle on critical fronts: transforming downtown, bringing economic development to several Cleveland neighborhoods through the Opportunity Corridor where construction will begin this fall, and working with the Cleveland school district and other stakeholders to grow the number of high-performing schools in the city. They are all game-changing initiatives and GCP priorities.”

He also discussed the importance of passing the “sin tax” to pay for major repairs and upkeep of Cleveland’s three pro sports facilities that are owned by the public. He noted that “the tax is paid by everybody who comes to Cuyahoga County – regardless of where they live – who buys alcohol or tobacco here.

“And, if the tax is not renewed…our city and county leaders will have to balance other precious general fund revenues for other services against maintaining the facilities they own.”

He urged the audience “to mobilize and reach out, to talk this issue up, and to support it. A vote for Issue 7 is a vote for what’s happening downtown – the thousands of new jobs, the hundreds of millions of dollars of new tax revenues that pay the salaries of police officers and firefighters and so much more. It’s a vote for Cleveland’s future.”

Remarks from the Governor

Our special guest was keynote speaker Governor John Kasich who talked about:

  • His affinity for Ohio, particularly Northeast Ohio, while growing up in Pennsylvania;

  • The state capital bill budget he signed last week, which will provide $5 million for  Cleveland’s Lakefront Access Project with its walkway to connect downtown to the lake, $3.5 million for the Flats East Gateway and Riverfront Park and nearly $5.4 million for work at Edgewater Marina; and

  • The Cleveland Plan to reform public education in the city, saying that if Cleveland can succeed, its strategy “will be one of the greatest gifts the city can give to the U.S."

Read more in this story from The Plain Dealer.

Thank you to our immediate past Board Chair

As a thank-you to GCP’s immediate past Board chair, Sherwin-Williams Chairman and CEO Christopher Connor, Board Chair Beth Mooney presented him with “a thoughtful and unique gift” as a reminder of his role in developing downtown and, in particular, the lakefront. In her remarks she observed:

"Chris, you noted in 2012 when you assumed the role of the GCP chair from Bill Christopher “that the work before us requires much heavy lifting; but the rewards are best described as transformational and truly game-changing.

"Last year, you challenged GCP and the community to come together collectively and develop our downtown waterfront. Today, we are pleased to say that we will see shovels in the ground on Public Square soon and lakefront plans are in full development."

Thanks to the work of Connor’s Sherwin-Williams team, a new bright teal paint color was developed called Connor’s Lakefront. Mooney presented him with a gallon of the paint, a necktie designed in that color, and scarves for members of his family, also in that color.

Community development executive honored

Vicki Eaton Johnson, executive director of the Fairfax Renaissance Development Corporation, received GCP’s 2014 Richard Shatten Professional Leadership Award for her support of, and work to, advance the Opportunity Corridor project and for leading efforts that have attracted multimillion-dollar investment to the Fairfax community.

GCP President and CEO Joe Roman presented the award. In his remarks, he noted several of her accomplishments during her 15 years at the helm of Fairfax including:

  • Growing the organization's assets from $26,000 to $7 million today
  • Providing leadership leading to the completion of major development projects such as Langston Hughes, the Global Cardiovascular Center, the Juvenile Justice Center.
  • Over the past five years, working as a partner to move the Opportunity Corridor project forward.

The award is presented in memory of Shatten’s role in the economic revitalization of Cleveland as an accomplished educator and research mentor at the Case Western Reserve University Weatherhead School of Management and through his civic leadership with Cleveland Tomorrow and other organizations.

Achievements in diversity highlighted


The Commission on Economic Inclusion, a program of GCP, presented its annual Best-in-Class awards for diversity achievement at the GCP Annual Meeting:

  • Board Diversity: Case Western Reserve University, nonprofit/government; FirstEnergy, large corporation; Lifebanc, middle market;
  • Senior Management Diversity: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, nonprofit/government; Time Warner Cable, Northeast Ohio/Western Pennsylvania, large corporation; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, middle market;
  • Workforce Diversity: Cuyahoga Community College, nonprofit/government; Cleveland Indians Baseball Co. LP, large corporation; Ozanne Construction Company, middle market;
  • Supplier Diversity: Kent State University, nonprofit/government; Huntington National Bank, large corporation; Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, middle market.

The Commission also announced the induction of five members to its Hall of Fame after winning best-in-class three times in one category: First Energy and Lifebanc, board diversity; Greater Cleveland RTA, senior management diversity, Cuyahoga Community College, workforce diversity; and Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, supplier diversity.

Investing in the middle market

Please join us on Friday, May 9 for the Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum, Northeast Ohio’s signature event for middle-market companies featuring high-profile mid-market CEOs, best practices and the latest research. Our program will be held from 7 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Corporate College East, 4400 Richmond Road.

We’re very pleased that the agenda will include “A Conversation with Stewart Kohl,” co-chief executive officer of The Riverside Company, a private equity firm founded in 1988 to invest in premier companies at the smaller end of the middle market.

Under his guidance and that of co-CEO Béla Szigethy, Riverside has grown to employ more than 200 people in offices across North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

In prior years, Riverside has been recognized by Buyouts Magazine as “Buyout Firm of the Year” and by Mergers & Acquisitions Journal as “Private Equity Firm of the Year.” Riverside was also named the world’s most active private equity firm of 2012 by PitchBook.

Click here to read his bio.

Click here to register for the Forum.

Multimedia in this issue

Be sure to check out the videos featured in this week's issue of "Every Monday:"

GCP Annual Meeting videos:

Issue 7

Pass the Plus: Advancing clean energy in Northeast Ohio


This month’s issue of the “Pass the Plus” e-newsletter, talks about the growing green industry in our region.

It notes that “many companies in Northeast Ohio that are committed to environmental practices such as utilizing solar panels, electric vehicles, geothermal heating and cooling, wind energy and more. By operating with the help of renewable energies, these companies are saving money while using clean, domestic and unlimited resources."

Click here to read more.

Click here to become a “Pass the Plus” subscriber.