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GCP's Annual Meeting highlights economic progress spurred
by public-private partnerships

Optimism about Cleveland’s future is well-grounded in reality and results, even while challenges remain.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Annual Meeting held June 17 at the Cleveland Convention Center highlighted many of the successes that have added to the community’s positive momentum as well as the work that’s yet to be done for sustainable economic progress. More than 1,200 business, community and civic leaders attended the event.

GCP Board Chair Beth Mooney, chairman and CEO of KeyCorp (photo right), noted that the city is moving forward propelled by a strong collaboration among stakeholders in the private and public sectors.

“The GCP priorities—helping drive The Cleveland Plan, ensuring success of the 2016 Republican National Convention, expand air carrier service at Hopkins Airport, developing the waterfront, completing the Opportunity Corridor, working with the county to deliver economic development outcomes and many more—are all feasible because of the strong public- private partnership we enjoy in this community,” said Mooney.

“I’ve been very impressed with what seems to me to be a rising tide of involvement and enthusiasm, not just from the GCP’s more than 10,000 members, but from across our local spectrum—the business community, the political community, the philanthropic community and the public at large.”

GCP looks ahead

Mooney also noted that the GCP will continue its work with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) to advance The Cleveland Plan to improve education outcomes in the City of Cleveland.

“There are many signs of encouraging progress,” she said, including CMSD and charter schools sharing levy dollars and collaborating on new schools. In addition, the CMSD high school graduation rate has increased by 8 percent since the 2010-2011 school year and currently stands at 64 percent.

Another GCP priority for 2015 is the organization’s work with Mayor Jackson to implement the Department of Justice consent decree. “The more responsible we are in developing an implementation process means that we can achieve lasting change,” Mooney said. “ The business community, and GCP, has already pledged to help the mayor see this issue through to real reform.”

See below for more stories from the Annual Meeting.

Ohio Senate passes its state operating budget

The Ohio Senate passed its version of the state operating budget last week. The spending bill for FY 2016 and 2017 includes a $1.7 billion net tax cut but no provisions to expand and/or increase the sales tax or Commercial Activities Tax as originally proposed by the Administration.

No deal was reached for a severance tax increase by the Senate’s deadline so a provision was included in the budget for a task force to study the likelihood of an increase and produce a plan by October 2015.

The Senate’s final version of the budget also removed language that would have put a two-year moratorium on the Historic Preservation Tax Credit program and added language to required the Ohio Department of Transportation to file reports on minority business hiring to the General Assembly.

The budget is now in conference committee where major differences between the House and Senate versions will be reconciled. The budget is expected to be signed into law by the Governor by June 30.

Click here for a highlight summary of the budget and GCP’s priorities.

Local hiring provision removed from Senate budget

In the final moments before the Senate Finance Committee approved its version of the state budget, a provision was added to prohibit local governments from requiring a contractor to employ a certain number of residents within a geographic area for a construction project or improvement.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has been active on this issue as it would be harmful to efforts in Northeast Ohio where the private sector, local government and other key stakeholders have been working closely for more than 10 years to build an inclusive workforce and ensure that local residents can benefit from the economic opportunity created by large-scale development projects.

The provision was ultimately removed from the budget before final passage by the Senate because of an amendment made on the floor by Senator Sandra Williams (D-Cleveland).

“We are grateful for Senator Williams’ leadership on this issue and for her efforts to ensure that such a key component of our city’s diversity and inclusion work stays intact,” says GCP President & CEO Joe Roman.

The local hiring provision is out of the state budget bill, there is still stand-alone legislation in the House (HB 180) and Senate (SB 152) on this issue. GCP provided testimony on the House bill and will continue to advocate on this issue.

“Meet the Press” Moderator Chuck Todd delivers Annual Meeting keynote: Insights into Washington politics

Remarks by keynote speaker Chuck Todd, NBC News Political Director and the moderator and managing editor of “Meet the Press,” included insights into the 2016 presidential campaign and voter apathy. He commented that the candidate who best speaks to “economic anxiety” will get more traction and that there needs to be an intense  focus on political reform that rebuilds trust.

Todd's remarks, as noted in this story from, included observations about a political system "that doesn't allow some talented politicians to get into positions that can influence change - until about 20 years after their expertise is too far removed to be relevant.

"'I think there's a growing distrust of Washington,'" Todd said, noting that he is optimistic that millennials can make a difference if they get engaged. "They better have the answer, or we're in trouble.

"We're in danger of losing a generation that doesn't believe that going to Washington is a good thing," Todd said. "We're not attracting the best and brightest anymore."

Click to read more.

$50M federal award to CDA to spur economic growth in city
by attracting private investment

GCP President and CEO Joe Roman (above photo) spoke about ongoing physical development projects that continue to change the face of Cleveland including Opportunity Corridor, the renovation of Public Square, and the transformation of the downtown lakefront. Even more good news was received earlier this week with the award of $50 million in federal New Market Tax Credits to Cleveland Development Advisors, the GCP’s real estate and business development finance affiliate.

“Cleveland is on a roll right now, but we have to work hard to keep moving forward,” Roman said. “This $50 million in federal tax credits will help propel us to the next stage of our multi-billion dollar resurgence.”  Read more in the press release.

Other GCP priorities for the coming year include:  

Business Development: Ramping up efforts to support Northeast Ohio companies plans for growth, expansion and job creation.

Workforce Development: Developing a program with the CMSD called Pathway Partners. Funded by the Cleveland Foundation, the initiative will focus on college and career readiness for Cleveland students and connect the business community with education providers and students in developing Cleveland’s future workforce.

Advocacy: Continuing to collaborate with chamber partners to support public policies at the local, state and national levels that impact the Greater Cleveland business community and the region’s economic development priorities. The organization has endorsed and also will speak out on behalf of the business community for the Cuyahoga County Arts and Culture levy and Fair Districts in Ohio, a bi-partisan effort to change the process of drawing state legislative districts.

Commission on Economic Inclusion highlights achievements
in workplace diversity

The Commission on Economic Inclusion, a program of GCP, presented its annual Best-in-Class awards at the GCP Annual Meeting. The awards honor Commission members for diversity achievement in:
  • Board Diversity: The MetroHealth System, nonprofit/government; Eaton, large corporation; YMCA of Greater Cleveland, middle market;
  • Senior Management Diversity: Cleveland State University, nonprofit/government; Cleveland Cavaliers, large corporation; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, middle market;
  • Workforce Diversity: Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, nonprofit/government; Medical Mutual, large corporation; Cleveland Airport System, middle market;
  • Supplier Diversity: NASA Glenn Research Center, nonprofit/government; Huntington National Bank, large corporation; Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, middle market.
The Commission also announced the induction of two members to its Hall of Fame after winning best-in-class three times in one category: Cleveland State University and the Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, both for senior management diversity.

Public broadcasting executives honored

WVIZ/PBS & 90.3 WCPN ideastream President and CEO Jerry Wareham and Chief Operating Officer Kathryn “Kit” Jensen were honored as co-winners of the GCP’s Richard A. Shatten Leadership Award for their accomplishments in creating and growing public television and radio in Northeast Ohio into an entity that serves almost three million people. In addition, ideastream has been recognized with 91 international, national, regional and statewide awards.

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.

ideastream is a nonprofit organization that applies the power of media to education, culture and citizenship. It includes WVIZ/PBS, 90.3 WCPN, WCLV 104.9, educational and public service cable channels, broadband interactive video distance learning, the Internet and other interactive media.

GCP 2015 Annual Meeting videos: Views from Greater Cleveland leaders

We appreciate the participation of more than 30 of business, community and civic leaders who were interviewed for our 2015 Annual Meeting videos. Click to see the list.

Click the links below to watch the videos.

GCP Board votes to approve county arts and culture levy, statewide redistricting ballot initiative

The Greater Cleveland Partnership Board of Directors has voted to support the Cuyahoga County Arts and Culture levy, which will be on the November 2015 ballot.

The Board approved support for the the levy at its quarterly meeting held June 17. The levy calls for a $.30 per pack renewal tax on cigarettes to fund Cuyahoga County arts and culture organizations.

Since the ballot initiative was last passed in September 2006, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, the public authority that administers the funding, has awarded more than 1,000 grants—worth more than $125 million—to over 300 organizations in more than 2,300 locations countywide.

The Board also voted to support the Fair Districts for Ohio statewide ballot initiative.

Approving the statewide initiative would:
  • Create the Ohio Redistricting Commission, consisting of the Governor, Auditor of State, Secretary of State and four legislative representatives (equally split between the House and Senate and from the majority and minority parties).
  • Set clear, concise guidelines by the Commission for redistricting with the goals of promoting fairness, accountability and minimizing splits in municipalities, townships and counties.
  • Require votes of two minority party members to approve a 10-year redistricting plan. If there is no agreement, a temporary plan is put into place and the Commission must reconvene to redraw the plan.

Ohio facing $11.6B shortfall in needed funds
for transportation improvements

Ohio’s transportation system faces challenges in the form of deteriorated roads and bridges, high rates of rural traffic fatalities, increasingly crowded roads, and insufficient funding to proceed with projects needed to support economic development, according to a new report released last week by TRIP, a Washington, D.C.- based national transportation organization.

The report, “Modernizing Ohio’s Transportation System: Progress and Challenges in Providing a Safe, Efficient and Well-Maintained Transportation System, says that increased investment in transportation improvements at the local, state and federal levels could improve road and bridge conditions, boost safety, increase roadway efficiency and support long-term economic growth in Ohio

“Northeast Ohio is a manufacturing region. We need safe and efficient infrastructure options to get raw materials in and finished products out,” said Nick Gattozzi, vice president of government advocacy for the Greater Cleveland Partnership. “A strong, well-maintained transportation system makes our region economically competitive nationally and internationally.”

Many needed projects throughout the state will require significant federal funding in order to proceed by 2020 including the Opportunity Corridor on Cleveland’s east side, which is currently under construction.

Click to read more in the press release.

Click to read or download the report.