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Every Monday -- News from GCP

Ohio House, Senate approve state budget with personal income tax cut

Last week, the Ohio House and Senate approved the state budget and sent it to Governor Kasich for his signature. The budget spending plan maintains a 6.3 percent across-the-board personal income tax cut, further reduces taxes on small businesses, and eliminates earlier proposals to raise/expand the sales tax and Commercial Activities Tax.

“We are pleased with the General Assembly’s work on the tax reform plan in the state budget,” said Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Joe Roman. “We are grateful that we were able to work in partnership with our elected leaders to ensure Ohio’s tax plan keeps Ohio competitive and primed for further economic growth.”

The final budget also did not include the proposed freeze on the Historic Preservation Tax Credit but does include language to create a study committee to determine the feasibility of converting it to a grant program.

The House and Senate also maintained the expansion of Medicaid as proposed by the Governor. Highlights of the state budget can be found here.

GCP was also successful in advocacy efforts to establish a new liquor permit that will extend the hours of sale for alcohol at select businesses and vendors during the week of the 2016 Republican National Convention. This work was a part of many key projects identified by the City of Cleveland and the RNC Host Committee to ensure Cleveland is ready for the convention next year.

The liquor permit will end at the conclusion of the event. It is also available for other major events hosted by the City of Cleveland, including the Rock Hall Induction Ceremony.

Harmful local hiring provision removed from proposed state budget

The Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Commission on Economic Inclusion (a program of the GCP), and the City of Cleveland were successful in keeping a harmful local hiring provision out of the state budget process. If included, this amendment would have prohibited local residency hiring requirements for public construction contracts.

Separate bills – HB 180 and SB 152 – are still moving through the General Assembly, with SB 152 passing the full Senate last week. Members of the GCP and Commission on Economic Inclusion recently signed a letter to oppose the legislation.

They believe that HB 180 and SB 152 weaken the public-private partnership that has been in place for the past 10 years in the City of Cleveland to create greater workforce, community and economic development opportunities that lead to real civic and economic benefit for all. You can read the full letter [here].

The GCP will continue to stay in engaged on this issue.

GCP working to strengthen Transformation Alliance legal authority

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has been working to strengthen the legal authority of the Cleveland Transformation Alliance (CTA) as a part of the statewide debate currently under way on charter school reform.

HB 2 (currently being reconciled between House and Senate differences) contains a provision that would ensure that schools that go directly to the Ohio Department of Education for authorization to open within the Cleveland Metropolitan School District footprint are required to go through the CTA review and recommendation process. This change would ensure that schools seeking to open in the City of Cleveland are adhering to national best practice for charter schools and the fidelity of The Cleveland School Plan.

Click to read testimony by Megan O’Bryan, executive director of the Transformation Alliance.

Cleveland school plan progress promising but should be accelerated, Alliance reports

Cleveland’s Plan for Transforming Schools, launched three years ago by civic leaders, is beginning to have a positive impact on education in the city’s district and charter schools, according to a new report by the Cleveland Transformation Alliance.

The Alliance, a voice for accountability and advocacy created as part of The Cleveland Plan, reports both progress and challenges on efforts to ensure all Cleveland children can attend quality schools.

Signs of progress highlighted in the report include a drop in the number of students attending failing schools and full enrollment at many higher‐performing schools. The Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s (CMSD) graduation rate is climbing, and for the first time in nearly 10 years, elementary and middle-school students are making progress at the same pace as their peers around the state.

But the number of students in high-performing schools has decreased since the Cleveland Plan was signed into law, and too many students remain in schools rated as failing by the Alliance.

Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Joe Roman, a member of the Alliance’s Board of Directors, said in a story about the report: "We knew that it was going to take some time. This is the time now to really kick in that throttle and accelerate the progress."'

Read more about the report in a op-ed column by Transformation Alliance Executive Director Megan O’Bryan.

Click to read or download the report.

GCP, Commission on Economic Inclusion annual reports available online

You can find the 2014 annual reports of the Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Commission on Economic Inclusion, a program of the GCP, on our website.

The GCP report highlights progress in advancing our priorities in advocacy, physical development and infrastructure, business development, education reform, inclusion and our middle market initiative.

The Commission annual report includes a summary of the results of the 2014 Employers Survey on Diversity; information on the 2014 Best-in-Class award winners, the 2015 Hall of Fame inductees, as well as a review of accomplishments during the first year of the Construction Diversity Initiative and the fourth year of operation by the Minority Business Development Agency Business Center Cleveland.

2016 RNC: Sign up if you want to volunteer

Ensuring involvement by Cleveland and Northeast Ohio companies, businesses and residents is an extremely important part of hosting the 2016 Republican National Convention.

While detailed volunteer opportunities are still being developed, you can indicate your interest on the 2016 RNC volunteer website by clicking the "SIGN UP NOW" button to receive ongoing information on convention planning.

Once the official volunteer registration opens, you will be contacted before the volunteer opportunities become available to the general public.

Important note: Signing up to receive information about volunteer opportunities does not guarantee you are registered as a volunteer. Interested participants must complete the official volunteer registration form once it opens.

Click to learn more.

Port of Cleveland reaches $3B milestone in development finance

This spring, the Port of Cleveland’s Board of Directors approved development finance projects that brought the Port to a historic threshold—over $3 billion in projects financed since 1993.

Since launching the program by financing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Port has gone on to facilitate private capital investment in nearly all sectors and industries, as illustrated earlier this year.

The most recent slate of projects in 2015 includes $150 million in new private capital invested in key regional projects. Those projects include:

  • Legacy Village Hyatt Hotel and parking garage in Lyndhurst
  • Intesa mixed-use development project in University Circle
  • Breakwater Bluffs residential development in Cleveland’s Gordon Square neighborhood.

In addition, the Port also issued bonds to refinance two previously Port-sponsored projects, including:

  • Laurel School’s previous campus expansion in Shaker Heights and Russell
  • Avery Dennison’s Fasson Roll division headquarters in Mentor, Ohio, while also extending its lease with the Port for an additional 10 years.

The Port offers a variety of financial products designed to add value to important regional projects, including credit enhancement, structured leasing, and tax-increment financing.

“The Port is excited to reach this major milestone of $3 billion in financings which have contributed greatly to economic development throughout Northeast Ohio,” said Brent Leslie, the Port’s chief financial officer. “We are assisting strategic investment across the region, including everything from new urban housing to suburban lifestyle centers and industrial parks.”

With $3 billion and over 100 unique projects under its belt, the Port remains a key partner for those looking to develop, redevelop, or expand.

Those interested in learning more about the Port of Cleveland’s development finance offerings can click here or contact Leslie at or 216.377.1340.

Apply for NOACA's Commuter Choice Awards

Supporting environmentally friendly transportation choices for commuters is a win-win-win.

Employers benefit by maintaining a happier, healthier, and less-stressed workforce. Employees benefit by saving money and enjoying a healthier commute to work. And Northeast Ohio benefits by reduced vehicle traffic and congestion, and improved air quality.

Employers who promote and provide incentives for employees to use alternative modes of transportation can be honored for their efforts by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency’s (NOACA) Commuter Choice Awards. Eligible organizations are those with facilities in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain or Medina counties. The deadline to apply is July 31.

The awards recognize companies and organizations that practice and promote environmentally friendly commute options including transit, carpooling, bicycling and walking, or offer telecommuting options and flexible work weeks.

Learn more.

Click to apply for the award.

Nurturing customer loyalty creates brand ambassadors

Without repeat business from people or companies, the cost of acquiring customers becomes a crushing expense for a middle-market business. The stronger the loyalty, the more marketing costs can be contained while increasing the average customer's lifetime value.

But there is a step beyond loyalty, particularly for a middle market company that is trying to hit its next stage of growth. What you want are customers who will act as brand ambassadors and do more than loyally buy from your business. They help acquire new customers through positive word-of mouth and brand promotion.

Erik Sherman, a National Center for the Middle Market contributor and author, says it’s important to recognize the difference between loyal customers and a true fans who can act as a brand ambassadors. Developing them means being aware that:

Not all customers are the same: Customer loyalty can help keep people doing business with you. But that definition embraces a range of attitudes and not all are favorable.

Data analysis is needed to develop brand ambassadors: The entire process of developing brand ambassadors requires data analysis, which means having a customer relationship management (CRM) system in place. Staff should be trained so that they ask and enter the necessary information.

Studying customer behavior will identify super customers: Since not everyone will necessarily become brand ambassadors, you want to identify customers who might. To do so, start by looking at their purchasing behavior.

Service and recognition are key: Good prices or product selections are fine, but they aren't enough to turn loyalists into brand ambassadors. Customers react this way because they’re treated like exceptional people.

Click to read more.

The National Center for the Middle Market, a collaboration between The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business and GE Capital, is a strategic partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Middle-Market Initiative.