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Community-wide campaign kicks off to "Keep Cleveland Strong"

Greater Cleveland President and CEO Joe Roman was recently interviewed on WTAM’s “Wills & Snyder” where he discussed the kickoff of the community-wide campaign in support of renewing Cuyahoga County’s tax on cigarettes and alcohol to to keep Cleveland’s three major league sports venues in major league condition.

Dozens of civic, public and business leaders joined together for the launch at Pickwick and Frolic on East 4th St. – a reconstructed downtown street packed with restaurants and night life that owes its rebirth to a growing downtown vibrancy triggered in 1994 by the opening of what are now Progressive Field and Quicken Loans Arena.

Renewing the tax – which costs about two cents a beer, a penny on a glass of wine and less than a nickel on a pack of cigarettes – will ensure that there are sufficient funds for looming, major repairs such as a new roof at Quicken Loans Arena. But backers say the tax is about more than the facilities and sports. The public’s partnership with its major league sports teams is paying huge dividends.

Click here to learn more about the campaign launch.

Click to listen to the interview.

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State funding requested for pedestrian walkway to the lakefront

The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s state capital budget request for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County, submitted last week, includes $7 million to help move forward a $47 million pedestrian walkway and attached parking garage to connect the Lake Erie waterfront with the rest of downtown.

The list also includes $6 million of the expected $16.7 million cost for a riverfront park on the east bank of the Flats.

Click to read more.

GCP, business coalition urge reforms to Ohio’s electricity usage mandate

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has joined other Ohio business organizations and companies in renewing their request for reforms to the state’s mandate that forces lower electricity usage.

The coalition, newly organized as Ohioans for Sustainable Jobs, released a study last week with findings that the electric bill increases caused by the mandate are at least five to 10 times greater than possible benefits that might be available to Ohio consumers.

The study, prepared by economist and author Jonathan A. Lesser, Ph.D., demonstrates how costly the electricity usage reduction mandate has become for Ohio’s electric customers. Despite nearly a billion dollars charged solely to Ohioans, the study found that about 80 percent of any of the claimed benefits are going to customers outside of Ohio.

Click here to read more in the press release.

Click here to access the report.

GCP member participates in national Summit on Transportation Infrastructure

As part of the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s organizational work and that on behalf of Build Up Greater Cleveland and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition, GCP advocacy staff attended the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Transportation Infrastructure Summit in Washington, DC.

The Summit was part of the Chamber’s ongoing Let’s Rebuild America initiative that “focuses on driving public awareness, expanding research efforts, and building strong political action toward maintaining, modernizing and expanding our nation’s multimodal infrastructure systems.”

This year’s agenda examined the important roll transportation infrastructure plays across major sectors of America’s economy. Panelists explored five key infrastructure intersections: energy, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, and healthcare—and how each sector requires well-functioning transportation infrastructure systems to realize its full potential.

At the invitation of the U.S. Chamber, GCP secured a healthcare panelist from Cleveland Clinic, a GCP Investor member. As part of that panel, Dr. Damon Kralovic (center in the above photo) spoke about the nexus of healthcare and infrastructure and how such factors play into the delivery of patient care, as well as organization operations.

While the re-authorization of Surface Transportation bill moves forward in both the House and the Senate, GCP remains highly engage in the issue. With the current authorization running through September 30, 2014, we expect movement to continue throughout the year, with hopes for a bill before the August recess. Movement then will be dependent on a legislative calendar that includes the November mid-term elections.

For additional information on the bill, view the latest edition of the GCP Insight video series where the issue is discussed in greater detail.

Tax reform discussion draft to be released this week

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) is expected to release his long-awaited tax reform proposal in a discussion draft format later this week.

Through several of our Hill sources, we understand that House leadership is less than happy with the release as it is believed by some that such an event will draw attention away from the ongoing troubles related to the Affordable Care Act. To further demonstrate leadership’s tepid support, this bill is not expected to carry the bill number HR 1, which was designated for the House’s tax reform legislation at the start of the first session of this Congress.

The details are sketchy and we hope to learn more when the committee meets on Wednesday for a member lunch. Additionally, GCP staff will be attending a Capitol Hill briefing with Ways and Means staff on Friday to garner additional details.

What we have heard at this point is that the chairman’s goal has been to reduce both corporate and individual rates to 25 percent. He may have hit it or come close on corporate rates, but is rumored that individual rates will come in at 30 percent or 35 percent.

To get the corporate rate down, it appears that most tax credits and preferences available to corporations will be scrapped. We expect that the Research and Development (R&D) Credit is either eliminated or scaled back. We have also heard that a new tax on large private financial institutions is included as another way to pay for the proposed rate reductions and to keep the bill revenue neutral.

It appears that the popular New Markets Tax Credit program, which has been successfully utilized in Greater Cleveland region by Cleveland Development Advisors, the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s real estate and business development finance affiliate, and others, will not be extended. This concurs with indications we had previously received during meetings on the Hill; but this does not mean GCP will stop fighting for the extension of program or for an allocation from the next round of funding.

Additional changes rumored to be a part of the discussion draft include:

  • Elimination of LIFO with a transition rule pay down;
  • Some language to ease the manufacturing industry concerns on international/capitalization rules; and
  • Appeasement language for the financial services sector that may be taking a hit in the draft.

Similar to previous tax reform efforts, Congress must present its work publicly as some point. This draft represents that it may also represent the chairman’s desire to create his legacy as he will lose the committee gavel at the end of this session due to term limits for committee chairs.

The GCP Advocacy Team will continue to monitor the release of information from the Ways and Means Committee and will report out following next Friday’s Capitol Hill briefing.

GCP joins discussion on development opportunities
in first-ring suburbs

Last week, the Greater Cleveland Partnership Business Development Team joined economic development professionals from the First Suburbs Development Council (FSDC) at a roundtable program for commercial real estate professionals at the DoubleTree Lakeside hotel..

The event, which offered CEU credits, provided information about recent updates to building and zoning codes and new community assets and opportunities in Cleveland’s inner-ring communities. Speakers included representatives from FSDC member municipalities, development projects in Greater Cleveland and the GCP Business Development Team.

The FSDC is a not-for-profit organization that seeks economic stability and viability for its member cities. It was formed as a result of a task force composed of economic development officials of the member cities and representatives from Cuyahoga County’s Department of Development and Planning Commission. It focuses on designing programs that address development issues and augment each of the member cities’ re-development efforts.

FSDC member municipalities include Bedford, Bedford Heights, Berea, Brook Park, Brooklyn, Cleveland Heights, Euclid, Fairview Park, Garfield Heights, Lakewood, Parma, Parma Heights, Shaker Heights, South Euclid, University Heights and Warrensville Heights. The GCP Business Development Team works with these and other municipalities to facilitate business development.

GCP members receive Third Frontier funding

Four Greater Cleveland Partnership members are among the recipients of grants recently announced by the Ohio Third Frontier Commission for cutting-edge technology companies and start-ups based in Northeast Ohio.

Recipients of the 2014 Ohio Third Frontier Technology Validation and Start-Up Fund and their awards include:

  • Cleveland Clinic: $100,000 in grants for two projects: to study a new surgical mesh used to repair hernias and to study a new imaging system for minimally invasive surgery.
  • The University of Akron: $200,000 in grants for four projects: an oxygenated hydrogel wound dressing; a paint-based stress monitoring system for use in the aerospace, civil engineering and naval industries; a smart-phone-based water quality sensor; and an automated system for testing the effects of anti-cancer drugs.
  • Kent State University: A $26,616 grant to develop a robotic system for assembling fuel cell components, and a $35,004 grant to develop an energy-saving smart window system.
  • Case Western Reserve University: A $50,000 grant to develop a software platform for vein and artery imaging technology.

In 2010, GCP led a regional campaign that helped secure voter approval for a four-year, $700 million extension of the Third Frontier program through 2016.

Strategy agility: A middle-market advantage

In a competitive landscape that's moving faster every day middle-market companies have a clear "agility advantage" over larger rivals when adapting their business strategies due to less process and bureaucracy.

Chuck Leddy, a National Center for the Middle Market contributor, recently wrote that “Strategy needs to be formulated carefully. However, strategies also should be agile enough to change when the assumptions underlying them do the same.

"To shape an effective strategy, you first need to know who you are: the strengths and weaknesses of your business plan, its competitive advantages, what your rivals are doing, market conditions, and countless other internal and external factors.”

He discussed five warning signs middle market strategists should look for, and be ready to respond to, when gauging the state of their business: (1) growing pains; (2) big external market changes; (3) reliance on a few big customers; (4) competing on price alone; and (5) too much commitment to current strategic plan.

Click here to read more.

Help shape middle-market research agenda with 30-second survey

The National Center for the Middle Market, founded through a multi-year partnership between The Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business and GE Capital, ensures that the vital middle market receives the attention it deserves.

You can help the Center shape its 2014 Research Agenda by taking this 30 second survey.