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Growth strategies and insights for middle-market leaders

Expert insights on three top-of-mind topics for middle-market executives were shared with more than 125 attendees at the 2016 Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum held May 12th at Corporate College East.

Following a welcome from Greater Cleveland Partnership Board member Bernie Moreno, president of Bernie Moreno Companies and chair of the GCP Middle-Market Committee (above photo), the program featured conversations about:

The Mighty Middle Market

Tom Stewart, executive director of the National Center for the Middle Market, shared results from the 1Q 2016 Middle Market Indicator including:
  • By a substantial margin, the middle market continues to lead the U.S. economy in revenue growth and job creation; Ohio companies are outpacing national trends
  • Revenue growth rates have stabilized and turned slightly upward, as have expectations for growth for the rest of 2016
  • Employment numbers are solid, too, and middle market companies are seeing a need to offer wages to attract the talent they need.
Read more results from Ohio companies here. Get details on the national picture here.

Cyber Security/Risk

Gunpat Wagh, special supervisory agent, FBI Cleveland provided an overview of the types and sources of cyber threats that individuals, institutions and businesses are facing and how the FBI responds to them.

He recommended several ways companies can be prepared to prevent or respond to a cyber breach including having a dedicated IT staff, proper access control & incident response plan.

The discussion on how companies can respond to and prevent cyber threats continued with these panelists (photo below) joining Agent Wagh (left to right): Howard Forman, senior vice president, PNC Bank; Jon Steiger, director, East Central Region, Federal Trade Commission; and Ralph Greco, director, Business Analytics Institute, Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University.

Export Readiness

Amy Liu, vice president and director, Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution discussed why middle-market companies need to look to develop and implement globalization strategies to stay competitive.

She also discussed The Global Cities Initiative, a five-year project that aims to help leaders in U.S. metropolitan areas reorient their economies toward greater engagement in world markets by focusing on competitive clusters and identifying their core competencies.

The panel featured (above photo left to right): Tom Stewart, National Center for the Middle Market; Jack Schron, Jr. president Jergens, Inc., Melissa Blackledge senior international trade specialist, U.S. Department of Commerce Oded Shenkar, Ph.D. Academic Director, NCMM Fisher College of Business, The Ohio State University and Amy Liu. The discussion included strategies and tactics companies can use to launch of expand their presence in the global marketplace.

Attracting Top Management Talent

Panelists (photo above left to right): Larry Inks, clinical associate professor of management & human Resources, The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business (moderator); Dominic Ozanne, president and CEO, The Ozanne Construction Company; Lynn Kernya, manager, human resources, Bernie Moreno Companies, and Beth Svec, vice president, human resources and corporate communications, MCPc, discussed strategies and practices that help them recruit and retain top management and what’s important when seeking to attract millennials and develop their potential.

More highlights and forum information

For more highlights, check out the @GCPartnership Twitter stream (hashtag #GCMMF).

You also can download the forum app to your smart phone to access the agenda and information about the speakers. Go to

Thanks again to our Middle-Market Initiative sponsors:

GCP connects business, local elected leaders
with federal officials in D.C.

The Fourth Annual Empowering Local Leadership Conference took place this past Thursday and Friday in Washington, DC.

More than 15 members of Congress and more than 200 Clevelanders participated in the conference which brings together business leaders, local elected leaders, and federal officials to talk about issues impacting our region.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership partnered with (above photo left to right): Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Congressman Dave Joyce and Congressman Jim Renacci in hosting the annual conference. Highlights include:
  • A White House policy briefing

  • Informal discussions with House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Bill Schuster and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady

  • Remarks from the U.S. Department of Transportation Chief Opportunities Officer Stephanie Jones; and

  • An Ohio Delegation breakfast

Ohio Senate passes legislation prohibiting local hiring mandates; GCP maintains its opposition

Last week, the Ohio Senate passed HB 180 – legislation that would prohibit local governments from using local hiring mandates on publicly funded construction projects.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) has opposed this legislation, as it would end the City of Cleveland’s local hiring law, which requires a 20 percent local workforce on city-funded projects.

This legislation could also hamper efforts to build an inclusive talent pipeline, particularly for construction jobs, that the GCP, the City of Cleveland and other key stakeholders have been working on since 2013 upon the creation of the Memorandum of Understanding for community benefits.

The Ohio House has already passed HB 180; the Senate made no changes to the bill before it passed its chamber, so now the legislation is set to be sent to the Governor for his signature. Mayor Frank Jackson and others have sent letters to the Governor asking him to veto the bill.

Click here to read the Mayor’s letter.

“We are very disappointed with the passage of HB 180,” said GCP Senior Vice President of Advocacy Marty McGann. “We truly appreciate the desire to ease regulatory burdens on businesses—that is, indeed, a core priority in the work that we do for our members.

“However, the public and private sectors in the City of Cleveland have long shared a common goal: To encourage a diverse and inclusive workforce to boost economic growth.

“Our members have been and will continue to be committed to creating local hiring opportunities on their major development projects as a way to invest in the local economy and build a stronger workforce.”

Once the bill is sent to the Governor, he will have 10 days to sign it into law.

The GCP will continue to stay engaged with the City of Cleveland and the Ohio legislature on initiatives that will help develop the workforce and job opportunities that will boost the growth of our city and region.

GCP statement on $15 minimum wage proposal rated “True”
by Politifact, which is self-described as “an independent fact-checking journalism website,” researched a quote by Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Joe Roman from a Dealer story on the proposed $15 minimum wage for the Cleveland.

"We have serious concerns about a Cleveland-only wage hike that could put the city in a competitive disadvantage in the region and state. As proposed, the hike is the most aggressive minimum wage increase in the country."

After being contacted by PolitiFact, the GCP sent background information explaining the quote:

“According to our examination, no other municipality or state has enacted a +80 percent increase in their minimum wage.

“If passed, Cleveland would have the highest broadly applied municipal minimum wage in the nation on January 1, 2017. Only a subset of Seattle (WA) employers will be at $15 in January 2017. Also SeaTac (WA), at $15.24, is in a different category as the minimum wage is only for specific types of jobs (hospitality / transportation).

“If the current proposal is approved, Cleveland’s minimum wage would be two times higher than 24 states in the nation and by far the highest in the Midwest region. The highest-rate state in the nation on January 1, 2017 will be only $10.50.

“Finally, all or nearly all substantial minimum wage increases have been phased in over many years (e.g. New York at end of 2018, California by 2023, Seattle by 2024). The proposal in Cleveland has NO phase in.”

After its own research, Politifact concluded: “It turns out that Cleveland, with a minimum wage of $8.10, is at the lowest starting point of any municipality that has passed or is considering a $15 hike. Also, the Cleveland proposal would increase the wage to $15 at once instead of building up gradually, as most other cities have done.

We rate this statement True.”

GCP advocates for legislation raising amount covered
in small claims cases

Last week, the Greater Cleveland Partnership submitted testimony before the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee in support of small claims courts legislation, House Bill 387 (HB 387), which would increase the maximum amount for small claims cases from $3,000 to $6,000.

Raising the maximum level small claims courts have jurisdiction over will allow more business owners to participate in a process that previously was not available to them.

In addition, it would provide the business community with another useful tool to recover losses and debts when it would not be economically feasible to go through a higher court due to the costs of attorneys’ fees, etc.

The GCP decided to support HB 387 because it will help business owners contain legal costs, save time and effort that could be better spent managing their businesses, and utilize a more informal, expeditious, and inexpensive means to pursue claims for smaller sums of money.

While this issue may not individually command headline news, it makes a larger statement about Ohio’s desire to find ways to continue to eliminate barriers for businesses in our state.

Click to read the GCP’s testimony in support of HB 387.

Video series highlights COSE’s clean energy leadership

Nicole Stika, COSE’s senior director of energy services, is featured in a new national video series, “Chambers Across America: Catalyzing Economic Growth Through Clean Energy.”

The video series, entitled “Chambers Across America: Catalyzing Economic Growth Through Clean Energy”, marks the fifth anniversary of Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy, a nationwide network of local chambers dedicated to helping their businesses thrive in the clean energy space.

“Local chambers know that Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, GM, Walmart, and many other large companies are increasingly demanding renewable energy,” said CICE Co-founder and Executive Director Diane Doucette.

“And businesses of all sizes are finding opportunities for growth in the clean energy field. So chambers are working with their cities and states to attract clean energy investments to their communities.”

Click to watch the portion of the video about COSE’s efforts to help small businesses save on their energy costs.

You’re invited! NASA Glenn celebrates 75th anniversary
with an open house

Have you ever wondered what goes on beyond the gate of the NASA Glenn Research Center?

You have a chance to find out on May 21 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Lewis Field Campus for an exciting open house celebrating NASA Glenn’s 75th anniversary. NASA Glenn staff will guide you through world-class facilities and show you the technologies that contribute to the future of NASA in aeronautics and the journey to Mars.

Each day will feature special presentations by NASA Glenn’s technologists and researchers and hands-on activities for children including making a handheld jet engine, straw rockets and solar energy bracelets, as well as demonstration carts on lunar robotics, soda bottle rockets, alternative energy and more.

And it’s all free! Click for details.

Join the conversation on regional workforce development

Greater Cleveland Partnership members are invited to join the discussion at the 2016 Regional Workforce Development Forum on Wednesday, June 1 at Corporate College East, 4400 Richmond Road in Warrensville Heights.

The forum, co-hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and the Workforce Development Boards in Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties, will provide attendees with a comprehensive picture of the region’s labor market informed by recent data and applied research.

It also will look at successful programs from both inside and outside the region that address workforce needs in meaningful, innovative ways. In addition, attendees will have an opportunity to participate in the development of the regional workforce plan.

Who should attend? Workforce development practitioners, municipal leaders, funders, researchers and employers from the eight-county Northeast Ohio region, including Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage and Summit counties.

Participation in the forum is free, but you must RSVP. Attendance is capped at 200. Registration closes Wednesday, May 25.

For more information, email Kyle Free at or Lisa Nelson at

Click to register.

Co-op education stakeholders to convene

Employers of all sizes are invited to attend the Ohio Cooperative Education Association’s (OCEA) annual conference May 24-26 at the Richard T. Baker Conference Center, at the EY Building, 300 Main Street in the Flats East Bank development.

The conference will address Ohio-specific topics that may not be covered at national conferences, yet expand beyond specific cities, sectors and industries. Full attendance at the conference includes one-year OCEA membership (a $50 value) and all meals, beverages, parking and event tickets.

Founded in 1971, the OCEA works to develop structured guidelines for the operation of cooperative education programs in Ohio and recognize outstanding programs and practitioners. OCEA membership is open to employers, educators, and those interested in cooperative education and internships in the State of Ohio.

Click for more information and to register.

Lubrizol begins exporting directly to Europe
through Port of Cleveland

The Port of Cleveland and The Lubrizol Corporation, one of Ohio’s largest exporters to Europe, announced that the maker of specialty chemicals is now exporting products directly to Europe through Cleveland’s Port.

Lubrizol, a Berkshire Hathaway company headquartered in Wickliffe, is now shipping container loads of specialty chemicals produced at its Northeast Ohio facilities via the Cleveland Europe Express (CEE), service.

The CEE, a partnership between the Port of Cleveland and the Spliethoff Group of the Netherlands, is the only scheduled container vessel service between the Great Lakes and Europe, and points beyond. Leaders from Lubrizol and the Port were first introduced at a meeting sponsored by the Greater Cleveland Partnership on the local export industry. The conversation about Lubrizol using the CEE evolved from that meeting.

“We are extremely pleased Lubrizol is now a customer of the Cleveland-Europe Express,” said Port President and CEO Will Friedman.

“As a world leader in the specialty chemicals industry and a leading global company based in Northeast Ohio, Lubrizol is exactly the type of Ohio exporter we aimed to serve. This is a critical milestone for the Cleveland-Europe service”.

The CEE has been carrying Ohio-made exports to Europe since its inception in 2014, but Lubrizol is the first large Ohio exporter to shift container volume from the traditional East Coast routing to the CEE.

Lubrizol’s director of America’s supply chain, Matthew Joyce, said: “As a major exporter from Northeast Ohio, we are excited to now have this option to ship directly from the Port of Cleveland, eliminating the overland segment to East Coast ports.

“We fully support this concept as a way to help Heartland producers reach global markets more efficiently and compete more effectively”.

To learn more about using the Cleveland-Europe Express or the Port’s maritime services, contact Dave Gutheil, the Port’s vice president of maritime & logistics, at or 216.377.1363.

Take the Commuter Choice Challenge

Supporting choices for commuters is a win-win. Use of alternative modes of transportation saves commuters money, relieves congestion, improves air quality, benefits health and reduces stress.

To celebrate the Year of Sustainable Transportation in 2016, NOACA and the City of Cleveland are teaming up to present the Commuter Choice Challenge. Northeast Ohio employers of all sizes are invited to participate.

Your company or organization will be eligible to win great prizes, including a Commuter Choice Award and recognition at the 2016 Sustainable Cleveland Annual Summit, which will be held Sept. 21-22.

Click to learn more about the awards and how to enter the Challenge.