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GCP launches new business model, creating united economic development strategy

Result produces stronger voice for small, mid-sized and large NEO businesses

Cleveland—The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) and the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) are working together to build an even stronger organization focused on supporting and advancing the broad business community in Northeast Ohio.

The new structure will better connect the work of COSE and GCP’s other divisions – OHTec, the Middle Market and The Commission on Economic Inclusion. These changes are being made as Board leadership of the GCP and its affiliates continually strive to refine and maximize the voice and reach of the Greater Cleveland business community. The GCP, with stronger-than-ever financial resources, is well positioned to support this new structure. The GCP is one of the three largest chambers of commerce in the nation.

Members of the GCP and COSE will likely see no changes in the services and the benefits that they now receive but will be served by a more efficient and cohesive organization. COSE, OHTec, the Middle Market and the Commission on Economic Inclusion will continue to have dedicated member and staff leadership that will drive the organization’s work on the very unique issues each face. However, members should feel and see more connectivity in information, resources and support allowing all of them to feel a part of something even greater.

While the organizations have been focused on different sizes and types of businesses, the GCP and COSE have been housed in the same offices and have worked collaboratively over the past 12 years on many programs and initiatives important to businesses in the Northeast Ohio region.

“Over time, we have learned that more issues unite segments of the business community than divide,” said Joe Roman, president and CEO of the GCP. “The corporate leaders and business owners that lead our work have worked with us to build upon that collaborative energy to create an even stronger voice for the region’s businesses. This stronger collaboration as one organization will produce a more significant impact across all sized businesses and advance the community’s strategic priorities.”

Steve Millard, president and executive director of COSE, similarly believes the changes will make for a stronger organization going forward.

“The experience that we’ve had working with the GCP since 2004 has been very positive. Small and large businesses have been at the table together on important issues.

“These new changes will ensure a long-term seat at the table for small, middle-market and tech industry companies as well as our region’s large businesses, which will ensure the broadest and most collaborative possible input on the work of GCP,” Millard said.

The changes are organizational in nature and include:
  • As of January 1, several previously separate areas of member and business support operations were more fully integrated to eliminate redundant back office operations for COSE, OHTec and the GCP.
  • In early March, the boards of COSE and the GCP will act to finalize changes to committee structures and other organizational issues that reflect their intent to work more closely together on government advocacy, economic development and the engagement of business leaders from all sizes of companies in the work of the organization.
  • The skills of staff will be used for the benefit of both organizations where they were previously separate. Teams like membership, marketing and communications, events and programs, advertising and sponsorship, and volunteer/leadership development will come together to work on supporting an overall strategy for GCP, COSE and its other programs and initiatives.
Roman said the result will be a stronger and more cohesive organization working even more closely together to serve the entire Greater Cleveland business community. While other chambers of commerce and business organizations have been unable to find a way to serve businesses of all sizes, COSE and GCP have had a long history of being able to address the needs of the broad business community and are working even harder to connect their needs for a more significant impact.

“COSE, OHTec, the Middle Market Initiative and the Commission on Economic Inclusion all have very strong brands and very specific groups of businesses they serve across the region,” Roman said. “Those groups along with strong representation within GCP’s core governance structure will combine to create a more cohesive approach with the ability to address the most critical issues of each constituency.”

”The new structure will allow us to leverage the scale and strength of all of GCP’s resources,” Roman added. “It will allow us to have a seat at the table on issues important to all types of businesses, but we will be nimble enough to provide individual attention and service based on the diverse and specific needs of members.”

Millard said that “By taking down some of the walls that have separated our work, there will be more opportunity to work closely together for the broader business community. And, the sharing of perspective from business leaders of all sizes and types will create a better conversation to drive that work.”


The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) is a membership association of Northeast Ohio companies and organizations. As one of the largest metropolitan chambers of commerce in the nation, the GCP is focused on driving the economic vitality of the region through building a strong and thriving business climate for the broad business community, including small, middle-market and large corporate businesses.