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60 seconds with...Jeremy Paris, executive director, Group Plan Commission

Jeremy Paris is a Cleveland native who returned from Capitol Hill to take part in the revitalization of his hometown.

As the first executive director of the Group Plan Commission (GPC), he will shepherd efforts to connect Clevelanders by reinvigorating signature downtown public spaces and linking Lake Erie to the city's core.

Working with partners including the Greater Cleveland Partnership, LAND Studio and Downtown Cleveland Alliance, the GPC will bring together public, private and philanthropic resources to complete these projects.

In an interview with Every Monday, Paris discussed how the GPC is transforming downtown Cleveland into a vibrant, thriving urban core.

Every Monday: Why is the creation of accessible, central public spaces so important to cities?

Jeremy Paris: Successful public spaces play an integral role in the success of a city. Cities from Chicago and New York to St. Louis and Atlanta have made significant investments in their green spaces and are reaping the abundant rewards: greater sense of community, increased economic development and improved quality of life.

They drive development and economic growth. Yet, world-class cities also know that these spaces must be updated and renovated in order to remain relevant to their citizens and to continue growth. Working with our public-sector partners and stakeholders like the Greater Cleveland Partnership to transform our signature public spaces will leverage Cleveland’s significant capital projects and spur additional growth.

EM: What are the Group Plan Commission’s priority projects for transforming downtown Cleveland?

JP: The next step in transforming downtown Cleveland into a vibrant, thriving urban core is to create a unique public space that links pockets of existing development and promotes further growth. The Group Plan Commission has identified three priority projects: redesigning and revitalizing Public Square, enhancing the Mall and bridging the gap between downtown and the lakefront.

The goal is to create inviting, people-friendly spaces where Clevelanders and visitors feel welcome and at home. Through public-private collaboration among the city, the county, the business community and philanthropic organizations, and with the support of world-class urban planners, landscape architects and professionals, this vision is becoming a reality.

EM: How are these projects connected with the original vision of the Group Plan of 1903?

JP: The original Group Plan Commission of 1903, led by famed architect Daniel Burnham, presented an iconic vision that has shaped the heart of our city for more than a century. Based on the designs of great civic centers in Paris, London, Vienna and Florence, The Group Plan famously called for “no little plans” and outlined the development of a series of public spaces flanked by the city’s major civic and government buildings.

Building upon the iconic vision of the Group Plan of 1903, and on its spirit of creating world class public spaces, we will renew the heart of downtown Cleveland for today’s citizens and future generations by transforming and connecting the city’s signature public spaces. Just as the original Group Plan of 1903 spurred the Cleveland's development in the last century, our three priority projects — transforming Public Square, enhancing the Malls, and connecting downtown to the lakefront — will complement the $3 billion in development in Cleveland’s downtown core since 2010 and spur an additional wave of transformational development.

EM: How does Cleveland hosting the 2016 RNC impact the timeline of these projects, particularly Public Square?

JP: All of Cleveland is incredibly excited about hosting the RNC in the summer of 2016. Has Cleveland ever been on a better roll?

Fortunately, the Group Plan Commission has long had the summer of 2016 as our goal for several of these projects, including the transformation of Public Square, so we are on the right track in terms of design, planning and funding to complete the Public Square project well in time for the RNC.

The sense of excitement in the city is clearly beneficial to people really wanting to find ways to make it happen, but the planning and legwork of many people has put us in a great position to take advantage of it.

EM: The transformation of Public Square is budgeted at $30 million. Is a plan in place that will allow construction to begin later this year?

JP: Yes. Not only in terms of funding, but also planning and design, we are aiming for and on track to begin construction later this year, and complete the transformation by late spring of 2016.

Your input wanted: First-every survey of Ohio's middle-market companies

If you’re an executive with a Northeast Ohio middle-market company, we hope you’ll take about 15 minutes to participate in the 2014 Ohio Middle-Market Survey developed by the National Center for the Middle Market, a strategic partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnership's Middle-Market Initiative.

Your responses will help us better understand this important segment of the region’s and state’s economies. Knowing more about Northeast Ohio’s middle-market businesses will help us provide you and your company with the level of support, attention and advocacy you need.

Our online Middle-Market Knowledge Center is just one of several resources we currently provide to companies like yours. We also offer programming focused on topics of interest to middle-market companies including healthcare, innovation, talent retention and attraction and more.

Your participation in the survey -- the first-ever statewide query of companies with revenues between $1M and $100M --  will help us learn more about the Northeast Ohio middle-market, its challenges and the outlook for growth and expansion and help ensure that we're offering the resources that you need. 

Responses will only be reported in the aggregate and you will not be identified unless you choose to be contacted for additional information.

Click here to take the survey.

For questions and comments about the survey or GCP’s middle-market resources, please contact Rob Recker, GCP’s senior vice president of marketing, communications and membership, at 216.592.2384 or

Multi-generational workforce can be a boost for mid-market firms

Multiple generations—from traditionalists to baby boomers to gen Xers—bring a variety of knowledge, skills, and perspectives into the workplace. You also can add the millennial generation to that mix.

A workforce diversified by age provides great potential for middle market companies who know how to bring generations together toward a common goal.

But if you don't have a blueprint for getting these different age groups to understand, respect, and trust each other, your business can be challenged by the productivity drain that results from such discord.

Rob Carey, a National Center for the Middle Market contributor and features writer, offers suggestions on how to make this synergy work for your company. They include:
  • Focus on team building as the foundation. Publicly acknowledge what each generation's strengths are and encourage everyone to share their viewpoints and values with the group.
  • Reinforce the idea that employees must stay connected so that they trust each other enough to be able to ask for help and tap into each other's strengths.
  • Create an informed respect among the different generations that allows them to better communicate, share ideas, and help each other.
Click to read more.

GCP Business Development manager provides Vietnamese-English translation for Sherwin-Williams Global Market Development Team and customer

Greater Cleveland Partnership Business Development Senior Manager Truc Cao was invited by Sherwin-Williams Global Market Development Team to assist them and their customers from Vietnam with English-Vietnamese translation at company meetings last month.

Truc’s translation work included discussions about company overview, brands overview, product knowledge training, research facility, architectural and commercial stores, customer service, legal, marketing, segmentation, equipment and hands-on paint application.

In addition, Truc joined the group for visits at the Sherwin-Williams Center for Excellence, Breen Technology Center and architectural and commercial stores in Strongsville.

Jeffrey Junge and Rafael Arango of Sherwin-Williams Global Market Development Team commented on Truc’s translation work: “We are extremely thankful for your services. You have been a great support to our company.”

In above photo: GCP's Truc Cao (second from right) with Sherwin-Williams Global Market Development Team members and customers from Vietnam.

MAGNET, NASA Glenn present competition for product-focused technology start-ups

This summer, product-focused technology start-up companies in Northeast Ohio will have the opportunity to raise and receive funds toward bringing their ideas to reality in a new pitch competition—“ProtoTech”—presented by the Incubator at MAGNET (the Manufacturing Advocacy & Growth Network).

To support the commercialization of innovative new technology driven products into the marketplace, NASA Glenn Research Center is partnering with MAGNET and providing $15,000 to help launch this new event. In addition, a NASA Glenn subject matter expert will act as a technical feasibility judge for the competition.

Beginning in late July, the Incubator at MAGNET will begin accepting applications from start-up companies whose technology is based on developing a new product or process. Six applicants will be selected to develop their product pitch and be provided with resources such as an online team page and social media tools to raise funds for their product.

On September 18, the six finalists will present pitches for their products to a live audience and a panel of judges who will rate the finalists on each product’s feasibility and ability to attract investment as well as the quality of their pitch. The teams will keep all the funds they raise for their product with the top three teams earning a matching multiplier of funds for the amount they raised.

A website for the competition is under construction. For more information, click here to register for The Incubator at MAGNET online newsletter.

Interested start-ups can also contact Dave Crain at 216.432.5310 or

MAGNET is part of the regional economic development system that the Greater Cleveland Partnership helped to create and continues to support. The GCP also serves as the community advocate on behalf of NASA Glenn and its research and testing facility, Plum Brook Station, located in Sandusky.