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Creating a Winning Team at the COSE Annual Meeting

Hundreds gathered at this year’s COSE Annual Meeting  inside Progressive Field. The featured panel included the leadership team of the Cleveland Indians, Manager Terry Francona, legendary play-by-play voice Tom Hamilton and Chairman and CEO Paul Dolan.

The attendees participated in the discussion on leadership strategies and how to build a winning team.

Listen to the full audio from this unique session.

CEO Forum: Northeast Ohio's Leaders Recommit to Economic Inclusion

Tim Ryan, chairman and senior partner at PwC U.S. will keynote the Commission on Economic Inclusion’s annual CEO Forum on Monday, March 12th from 11:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. and discuss business leaders’ role in advocating for racial equity and inclusion in their workplaces and in the community at-large. 

The Commission’s board of advisors read and discussed the article, The Competitive Advantage of Racial Equity, at their quarterly board meeting last week. The discussion was followed by a special presentation from the Fund for our Economic Future on the racial disparities in income in Northeast Ohio. Mark Ross, PwC’s Market Managing Partner, encouraged CEOs and leaders to attend the CEO Forum to learn more about these topics. With the business community’s collective commitment to inclusive economic growth strategies, we can realize greater prosperity in our region. 

Get Involved by Hosting Out-of-School Experiences for CMSD Eighth-Graders

True2U is a youth development and career exploration mentoring program designed for eighth-grade Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) students. A key component of the True2U initiative is it to give students "out-of-school experiences” that introduce them to career opportunities from a variety of sectors. Our goal is to recruit employers who will host one or more groups of CMSD eighth-graders ranging from 15-90 students beginning at 9:00 or 10:30 a.m. during the weeks of March 1 - May 18, 2018.

To learn more about being a host organization, please contact Angela Finding at or 216-592-2385.

Measure your Progress towards D & I Goals

The Diversity & Inclusion (D&I) Organization Assessment from the Commission on Economic Inclusion is a free tool, available to all members of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, that provides participants with feedback on specific dimensions of diversity and inclusion and resources that can be useful for internal D&I strategic planning.

The Assessment and the associated resources can be helpful to any organization—whether it has an established program in place or is just starting its D&I journey and is looking to establish a baseline for their work in this area. 
“Cleveland Play House’s mission is to serve Northeast Ohioans from all walks of life.  That means that our programming and people must be reflective of the community that we serve.  The Assessment is a fantastic tool that helps us set personnel goals for our board and staff, and measure our progress along the way to becoming the nonprofit professional theatre that our community deserves.”
--- Kevin Moore, Managing Director, Cleveland Play House

The first 10 organizations that complete the Assessment for the first time this year will receive one free registration for the Commission’s annual Inclusion Conference in August—a $125 value.

Click here to register for a webinar on Wednesday, February 14 from 2-3 p.m. to learn more about the Assessment, or contact Scott Harrington at / 216.592.2213.

CEO Rick Chiricosta Raves About His Company's Customer Loyalty Program That Recently Hit the $100 Million Mark

The employees of Medical Mutual value their customers. In fact, they recently celebrated collectively spending more than $100 million on their customers’ goods and services throughout Ohio. The milestone was achieved in six years through the company’s unique program called Mutual Appreciation.
The idea started with Medical Mutual CEO Rick Chiricosta. “What we have that our competitors don’t have is 2,400 employees located right in Ohio,” he says. “We found a way to harness the buying power of this resource…in an extremely competitive environment. [Our customers] are the reason our employees have a job.”
Through the program, Medical Mutual employees and their customers connect on a personal level and, as the name suggests, both reap benefits.
“It is not uncommon for our employees to go up to the manager of a restaurant or a car dealer and introduce themselves as employees of Medical Mutual,” says Chiricosta.

One customer, Becky Grimm, manager of corporate accounts at Vitamix, agrees.
“The Mutual Appreciation program is a great way to connect with the employees at Medical Mutual,” she says. “It drives customer engagement to promote the Vitamix brand and encourages other Ohio businesses to buy local.”

After the first few years of the program, which started in 2011, Chiricosta realized it had the potential to grow bigger and better. That’s when he decided to hire one full-time staff person to lead the program. Enter Laura Dunn, manager of customer marketing, who took it over three years ago. “This is when the program really took off,” says Chiricosta.

Today, Medical Mutual makes a substantial investment in the program, which Chiricosta says pays off for customers and employees. Technology, particularly the Mutual Appreciation mobile app, is one of the key ingredients to the program’s success.
“We make it simple and make customers easy to find,” says Dunn.

The app even has a GPS feature to direct employees to the nearest restaurant, grocery story or car dealer. Employees can choose from Medical Mutual’s database of 7,000 customers. Plus, the mobile app tracks employee usage.
“They always can support a customer,” she says. “They just log their purchases right on their phone by taking a photo of the receipt.”

A whopping 90 percent of the Medical Mutual employees voluntarily participate in the program, which works out to about 52,000 transactions per month and $1 million spent with customers per month on average. It went as high as $2.8 million in one month.

“Wherever I am, I can look up where our customers are,” says Chiricosta. “We have created a culture where people will drive a little bit extra to go to one of our customers. That’s why we have a job…to support our customers. It’s embedded in our culture.”

That customer loyalty extends to the insurer’s business-to-business relationships as well.
“It is tough — not impossible, but very rare — for vendors who are not customers to come in my office and ask for our business,” he says.
In December, Chiricosta and his team celebrated the $100 million milestone by hosting a “Price is Right” game show complete with Chiricosta stepping in as Bob Barker. With lumber purchased from a customer, they built a special set to showcase the prizes, which, of course, Medical Mutual also purchased from customers.
The Mutual Appreciation program is a tiered structure where employees earn cash rewards at various point levels. Special incentives are built in to maximize participation. 

For example, employees can earn extra points for shopping with a customer whom they have never before patronized. Even charitable contributions can earn points, as long as the money is given to one of the many nonprofit customers. Points are turned in during redemption periods twice a year, and cash rewards are distributed via direct deposit.