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Ohio’s congressional delegation supports key development tool

In recent weeks, Ohio’s U.S. Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown signed on as legislative cosponsors of the New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Extension Act of 2017.

This legislation proposes a permanent extension of the federal NMTC program, currently set to expire in 2019. The legislative proposal would also increase the annual NMTC allocation. Several U.S. House members from Ohio are already lined up in support of the companion legislation in the House.

Those members include: Rep. Pat Tiberi (lead sponsor), Rep. Dave Joyce, Rep. Jim Renacci, Rep. Tim Ryan, Rep. Bob Gibbs, Rep. Bill Johnson, Rep. Betty Joyce, Rep. Steve Stivers, and Rep. Michael Turner.

“The NMTC program is helping drive Cleveland’s momentum,” said Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Joe Roman.

“We applaud Ohio’s congressional delegation for their commitment to protect and grow the impact this program is having in our community and across the state,” said Roman.

Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA), an affiliate of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, has managed $215 million in NMTC awards allocated to over three-dozen projects, creating more thanr 5,000 jobs and spurring additional investment nearing $1 billion.

CDA investment helps second phase of Innova project
move forward

The Finch Group has closed on financing for the second phase of the Innova project on Chester Avenue in the Hough neighborhood. Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA), an affiliate of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, provided a $1.5 million loan from its Advance Cleveland Development Fund.

The $26 million investment will add 70 apartment units and 7,700 square feet of retail. The initial phase, 177 apartment units and 23,000 square feet of retail was completed in 2015. CDA provided $3 million of financing for the first phase.

CDA President Yvette Ittu said of the closing, “This investment adds to CDA’s track record of making key investments in Cleveland’s neighborhoods.

“We will continue to work with our developer partners to move these projects across the finish line.”

Mayor’s neighborhood revitalization plan complements
CDA’s ongoing impact

On May 10, 2017, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson announced his Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative, including a commitment to invest $65 million in a public-private effort to revitalize Cleveland neighborhoods through commercial and residential development.

The goal is to use the dollars to spur further outside investment, create jobs and improve quality of life in neighborhoods where traditional economic development strategies have failed. While the Mayor identified strategic neighborhoods like Fairfax, Glenville, Hough and Buckeye, the dollars can be utilized throughout the city.

This exciting endeavor will complement the ongoing mission and impact being made by Cleveland Development Advisors, including the deployment of its current $60 million New Markets Tax Credit award.

CDA uses the tax credits to attract private investment needed to complete catalytic projects that create positive economic impacts in distressed neighborhoods in Cleveland, including workforce development, quality employment and neighborhood revitalization.

Recent investments include the UH Rainbow Center for Women and Children in Midtown; four new and improved facilities of the Salvation Army located in East Cleveland, North Collinwood, West Park and downtown; St. Martin De Porres High School in St. Clair / Superior; Menlo Park in the Stockyards neighborhood; and the St. Luke’s campus in Buckeye and the Children’s Museum in Midtown.

CDA will continue to utilize its New Markets Tax Credits, along with its other resources, to make investments aimed at improving vitality and livability throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods.

GCP testimony supports job creation tax credit bill

The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) provided testimony in support of Senate Bill 131, which would expand Ohio’s Job Creation Tax Credit to allow qualifying work from home employees to be counted in the job creation totals for applicants approved for the tax credit program.

Marty McGann, the GCP’s senior vice president of advocacy, provided testimony before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on how SB 131 is “a step in the right direction.”

The legislation responds to the evolution of the workforce, where more employees work from home or telecommute at least part-time. This reduces costs for businesses and employees, cuts down on traffic congestion and contributes to work/life balance.

SB 131 is expected to be voted out of committee and go before the full Senate next week. The Ohio House has a companion bill—House Bill 173—that also has received an initial hearing.

Click here to read the GCP’s full testimony.

Reshaping big-box retail creates a multi-million-dollar company

When a company grows from initially operating out of the one of the founder’s garage to being named by Forbes magazine as one of the next “billion-dollar startups,” there has to be an intriguing back story.

That company is Boxed, and co-founder and CEO Chieh Huang shared some of that story with the more than 150 attendees at the 2017 Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum held May 11 at Corporate College East.

His company, launched in 2013, is disrupting the wholesale shopping club experience by enabling customers to shop for bulk-sized items online or via mobile app and have them delivered directly to their door.

Huang acknowledged that there were a few days in the beginning when no orders came in. “Those days really tested us,” he said.

Big changes: $100M+ in annual revenues

Since then, everything has changed. Huang showed a map of the U.S. where Boxed—with annual revenues of more than $100 million—now delivers.

The company’s impact is nationwide. This includes deliveries to cities and states where customers have the option to drive to a big-box store to purchase large quantities of consumer goods.

The convenience of what Boxed offers makes a difference, Huang said. The company delivers anywhere in the continental United States and offers free two-day shipping on most orders.

The college tuition offer

He also talked about his decision to personally cover college tuition for children of Boxed employees. Half of his stock in the company provides the funds.

Growing up poor, he said that he is very mindful of the role that education played in his success, and he wants Boxed employees to be able to provide this opportunity for their children. He also said that it’s an acknowledgement of the employees’ work, which propels the company’s continued growth toward that billion-dollar level.

Mid-market companies are powering business growth
across U.S. and in Cleveland

U.S. middle-market companies continue to be the source of the strongest growth in revenue and employment in the first quarter of 2017, according to research by the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM).

Tom Stewart, the NCMM’s executive director, discussed these findings at the Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum held May 11 at Corporate College East.

When looking at Cleveland, the impact of the middle market is quite substantial: Mid-sized companies comprise one percent of all businesses but produce 23 percent of all revenue.

Statewide, the NCMM survey found that 2017 is expected to be a profitable year for Ohio’s middle-market companies. They are anticipating their revenue to grow over the next 12 months at a higher level than their counterparts across the U.S. (9.5 percent compared to 8.8 percent).

They also are slightly more confident in their local economy than the nationwide average (89 percent compared to 88 percent) and much more confident in the national economy than the U.S. average (97 percent vs. 90 percent).

Read more about the national results in the 1Q 2017 Middle Market Indicator report.

Click for an overview of Ohio companies.

The National Center for the Middle Market, a partnership of The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, SunTrust Banks, Inc., Grant Thornton LLP and Cisco Systems, is a strategic partner of Accelerating Middle-Market Progress.

Insightful discussions from our panelists

The Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum also included panel discussions on four top-of-mind topics for middle-market companies.

Many thanks to the participants for sharing their perspectives and experiences on these subjects:

The C-Suite: How to attract, manage and leverage a dynamic leadership team (shown in photo left to right):

  • Jennifer Cohen, senior vice president, leadership development, Ratliff & Taylor, moderator
  • Todd Stein, president and CEO, Brunswick Companies
  • Michelle Hirsch, senior vice president, Brunswick Companies
  • Gordon Bowen, president, Lifebanc
  • Heather Mekesa, director, hospital services, Lifebanc
  • Jeff Crane, CEO, TPC Wire & Company
  • Michele Pamboukis, vice president, human resources, TPC Wire & Company
Marketing: How to leverage data to harness business intelligence and target new audiences (shown in photo left to right):

  • Anne Madzelan, manager, advertising and promotions, Cleveland Indians
  • Lisa Dobransky, director of content, Cuyahoga Community College
  • Jorge Solorio, Americas industrial business manager, The Lubrizol Corporation
  • Tom Kramer, founder and president, Essex Digital Platform, moderator
Cyber security: How to respond to cyber threats and take steps to avoid a future cyber breach (shown in photo left to right):

  • Timothy M. Opsitnick, president, JURINNOV LLC, moderator
  • Christian Weekley, president and general manager, Weekley’s Mailing Service
  • Mark Vega, market leader, corporate construction, The Albert M. Higley Company
  • Brian Ray, co-founder and co-director, Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law
Human Resources: How companies are redefining work to support the success of a multi-generational workforce (shown photo left to right):

  • Steve Millard, executive vice president, Greater Cleveland Partnership, moderator
  • Matt Barcomb, vice president, organizational design, LeanDog
  • Meghan Bilardo, director, learning & organizational development, Brandmuscle
  • Caitlin McLaughlin, executive vice president, director of talent acquisition and total rewards, The PNC Financial Services Group

Help CMSD eighth-graders set goals for career success

Recognizing that career readiness starts early, an innovative program—True2U—a collaboration between the Cleveland Foundation’s youth development program, My Com, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD), the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Neighborhood Leadership Institute—provides CMSD eighth-graders with support to explore their purpose, identify their strengths and set goals for success.

Business professionals are invited to volunteer as True2U mentors for the program for the 2017-2018 school year. This career exploration and mentoring program focuses on raising career awareness for CMSD students on the cusp of entering high school.

Mentors will be trained on a structured curriculum and work in teams of two or three mentors with small groups of students once a month, for the duration of the school year, and will be supported by a CMSD teacher once a month.

Click here for more information about True2U.

If you have questions, or want to sign up as a mentor, please contact Angela Finding at or 216.592.2385.

Could your summer internship program connect 
to Cleveland students?

It’s well-established that internships and jobs for youth during the summer can have an immediate economic impact for a student on a tight budget and the experience can benefit both the intern and the employer for many years afterward. 

The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s own annual Cleveland Internship Summit continues to highlight how many business professionals look back to summer internships and other structured experiential learning experiences as being extremely beneficial to their careers.

There is always a need for more of these impactful opportunities, particularly for students in more distressed Cleveland neighborhoods. 

If you have an interest in learning more about how your summer internship program could potentially connect to these students this summer or in the future, please contact Shana Marbury at or 216.592.2249. 

Cleveland Chain Reaction seeking local entrepreneurs; application deadline extended

Cleveland Chain Reaction, an economic development project aimed at bringing jobs and additional economic activity to the city, is currently accepting applications from entrepreneurs who are interested in being considered to work with investors to grow their business in the Slavic Village neighborhood.

The application deadline has been extended to Monday, May 29.

Click for details about how to apply.

Visit the website for more information about Cleveland Chain Reaction.

Cleveland Chain Reaction is produced by: