Strategic Plan
for 2012-2015

Defining the Possible, Building
on Our Momentum, Focusing on
Game-Changing Issues

Our Vision
Our Mission

To be the economic development “game changer” and business advocate for Cleveland and Northeastern Ohio.

To mobilize private sector leadership, expertise and resources to create attractive business conditions that create jobs, grow investment and improve the economic prosperity of the region.

The Preface

As we look ahead to our next three years of work, the volunteer and staff leadership of the Greater Cleveland Partnership is actively reconsidering its role as the primary voice of the business community, and thinking even more deeply about the most effective methods for exerting our influence to help shape and secure our region’s future.

As part of our wide-ranging and on-going reconsideration of our role in the community, the GCP’s many stakeholders have achieved consensus on one important notion: We know it pays tremendous dividends to be a vital part of the community’s continuing conversation about its present and its future.

When we’re at the table—whether as convener, collaborator, participant, advocate or listener—we can have a real impact. We can connect dots, advocate for our causes, share our experiences, and help our friends and allies. We can listen for opportunities, discover fresh new ideas and explore possible game-changing collaborations with other influential institutions and sectors of society. By combining our strengths, we can accomplish much more. That has become increasingly important in an age of scarce resources, including financial resources.

Sometimes, on certain issues, our best role may well be to lead that conversation, as we plan to do with the Hopkins airport hub issue (more about which later). In other cases, depending on the issue and how directly it impacts upon the business community, our best contribution may be to convene the conversation, and host other stakeholders from the community in examining our collective options. In yet other cases, we might do best to simply collaborate and join in conversations being hosted elsewhere, convened by others.

In all this, we’re mindful of one truism: Markets are essentially conversations—at least in most cases they begin that way. And over the next three years, we plan to be part of the most important conversations taking place across our region, representing the voice of the business community even on issues that might not seem to apply directly to us.

Why? Because we believe that in the 21st century, the old barriers between business, government and the public must be reconsidered. As community challenges grow larger even as the resources to tackle them become ever scarcer, we recognize that unprecedented collaborations between those sectors are often the best answer. Ohio’s Third Frontier program—which leverages relatively modest public funds to attract significant add-on investments from the private sector--is a sterling example of this approach of coalescing private and public investment in economic development efforts that benefit everyone. Other states now view Ohio as a model in this area.

At the GCP, we’re increasingly mindful that we’re in this together. We’re all part of a regional community, an economic ecosystem, and we will all sink or swim, perish or prosper together. We plan on exercising our voice—the collective voice of our 15,000-plus members—on behalf of prosperity and progress for the region. We will do so in a spirit of collaboration, inclusiveness and nonpartisanship. We think we have something important to add to the discussion.

The Economic Renaissance

Twenty years ago, there was much talk--locally as well as nationally--about Cleveland and its surrounding region being a comeback story. Much of that narrative sprang from the considerable investments in such new civic infrastructure as the Gateway sports complex and North Coast Harbor projects such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and Great Lakes Science Center. The momentum from those cornerstone redevelopment projects carried over into a range of other add-on investments.

Today, while there is far less talk about a regional turnaround, there is paradoxically far more being invested in new infrastructure. From the Medical Mart/Convention Center and the downtown casino to the rebirth of such areas as the E. 4th entertainment district and a reinvigorated University Circle, nearly $9 billion of new investments are being added to our community. As we look ahead to the next three years, we’re convinced that the tremendous momentum from all of this redevelopment would be a terrible thing to waste.

But as we celebrate that momentum and lay plans to capitalize on it, we're also actively thinking ahead to how the community can make better and more enduring connections between the assets we have and those we'll soon see coming on line. Through the Commission on Economic Inclusion, the Greater Cleveland Partnership will continue to work to create jobs and opportunities for minority individuals and businesses in the Cleveland Plus region. Success means that minorities will more fully participate in the benefits of the economic resurgence of the region. Additionally, GCP will focus on forging stronger inclusion connections for the next three years of our work.

The Medical Mart & Convention Center

Greater Cleveland has long held a tradition of medical leadership, with world-renowned institutions like the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals rapidly growing throughout the region and the Stokes VA Medical Center, MetroHealth System, St. Vincent Charity, and others completing or planning dramatic expansions of their own. With this accelerated growth showing no signs of slowing, and supportive medical manufacturing becoming an increasingly prevalent component of the regional economy, it is little surprise that the convention and tourism industry would soon follow the lead.

In a partnership between Cuyahoga County, the City of Cleveland, and MMPI (formerly Merchandise Mart Properties) of Chicago, the new Cleveland Medical Mart and Convention Center is geared to play off the region’s alluring healthcare offerings by targeting its focus at medical research, education, and manufacturing. When completed in 2013, the 235,000 square-foot Medical Mart will be tied directly into a newly-revamped convention center with 230,000 square feet of exhibition space, 60,000 square feet of meeting rooms, and a 30,000 square-foot grand ballroom.

Designed by acclaimed architects LMN of Seattle and Gustafson Guthrie Nichol of New York, the four-story Medical Mart building – a showplace for healthcare equipment and technologies – will be situated along the western edge of downtown’s historic Mall, with the convention space located below the landscaped surface. Creative architecture helped to solve potentially problematic design limitations, as the roof of the convention center (and Mall surface) will gradually slope up to a peak of 26 feet to allow for a new northern entrance along Lakeside Avenue and provide additional ceiling height for the exhibition space while creating an iconic public space with dramatic vistas of the city skyline and lakefront.

This $465 million public-private partnership is expected to be a major economic driver for the city, county, and region as a whole, with an estimated 300,000 annual visitors contributing to $330 million in direct impact.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has been a strong supporter of the Medical Mart concept and rehabilitation of the dated downtown convention center to modern standards since the proposal was first approved by Cuyahoga County in 2008. In addition, through the work of the Group Plan Commission, the GCP has continued to advocate for ensuring that the facility is adequately connected to the numerous supportive and complimentary amenities throughout downtown.

The Cleveland Horseshoe Casino

Initiated from the passage of Ohio Issue 3 in 2009, the Cleveland Horseshoe Casino will be one of four new Ohio casinos and the first to open in the state when construction wraps up by May of 2012. The development of the Cleveland gaming facility – as well as one in Cincinnati – will be led by Rock Ohio Caesars, a joint venture between Cleveland Cavaliers majority owner Dan Gilbert’s Rock Gaming, LLC and the world’s largest casino entertainment company Caesars Entertainment Corporation of Las Vegas.

The $350 million first phase of the Horseshoe will be nestled in the heart of downtown, occupying the first four floors of the historic Higbee Building on Public Square. When completed, the 96,000 square-foot Cleveland Horseshoe Casino will feature approximately 2,100 slot machines, 65 table games, and a 25-table World Series of Poker room. The facility will also include a new adjacently-located Welcome Center with valet services and parking for over 1,300 cars and 4,700 square feet of retail space.

Rock Ohio Caesars has also taken extra effort to ensure that the Horseshoe is incorporated into the fabric of downtown Cleveland. In addition to locating the first phase in an existing structure in the heart of the city, the casino dining options will be limited to a buffet restaurant and a food court with three outlets to encourage visitors to venture outside to local establishments. Rock Ohio Caesars is also exploring the feasibility of offering a rewards program to offer perks for patronizing restaurants and bars.

The first phase of the Cleveland Horseshoe is expecting to draw as many as five million visitors annually, resulting in a huge surge in economic impact through both state and local tax revenue as well as indirect spending. Plans are already in the works for a larger $600 million second phase to be located between the southern edge of Huron Road and the Cuyahoga River. This newly-constructed facility – to be linked to the first phase through the Tower City complex – would sit atop several levels of parking and be wrapped with street-level retail and restaurants.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has had notable involvement with the Cleveland Horseshoe Casino, the most directly significant of which involved the relocation of the organization’s 100-plus employees from the second floor of the Higbee Building to make way for the project. Additionally, the GCP advocated for the passage of Ohio Issue 3 in 2009 and has continued to collaborate with public and private stakeholders to help ensure an expedient completion to the project.

East Fourth Street

The revitalization of East Fourth Street – from an alley-like afterthought to arguably the most vibrant 450-foot stretch of road anywhere in the region – has been perhaps the most defining project in downtown Cleveland during the past 10 years. This concentrated collection of restaurants, bars, clubs, retail, and apartments situated along a pedestrian-only street has blossomed organically over the course of the decade, with each component steadily emerging one by one.

Though the national chain House of Blues occupies a prominent location on the stretch, the bulk of the dining and entertainment options are unique to East Fourth Street, including a bevy of local offerings in Iron Chef Michael Symon’s Lola, Chef Jonathon Sawyer’s Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat, and Chef Zack Bruell’s Chinato. In addition to the entertainment components, East Fourth Street has developed into a complete residential neighborhood, with six beautifully-restored historic buildings touting nearly 300 rental units located above the bustling entertainment amenities.

This residential component along East Fourth Street has helped to energize renewed interest in downtown living, as numerous other rental projects have come online or are being planned in an attempt to capitalize on this growing market demand.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership has played a major role in the growth of East Fourth Street. Through Cleveland Development Advisors – the GCP’s real estate and business development finance affiliate – key projects along the street have been supported through the investment of privately-funded capital and the allocation of New Market Tax Credits. These recipients include entertainment venues such as the House of Blues and Corner Alley as well as residential conversions in the WT Grant Building, the Windsor Building Apartments, the Commercial Building, Frederick @ Fourth, and the Buckeye Building.