Jun 19

For Immediate Release

Cleveland, June 19, 2020 — Members of the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) and its small business division, the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), formally named Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Senator Nickie Antonio as recipients of the 2019 Small Business Advocate of the Year Award today.

“Elected leaders like Lt. Governor Jon Husted and Senator Nickie Antonio are working hard on many specific, separate challenges that are of great importance to our small business members and they are both deserving of our recognition,” said Kevin Johnson, Managing Partner of Nex-Gen Interactive, COSE Board Chair, and GCP Board Member.

Under the leadership of Lt. Governor Husted, InnovateOhio’s mission is to “make Ohio the most innovative, creative, and entrepreneurial state in the Midwest by focusing on improving services, reducing costs, and spurring a culture of innovation in Ohio.”  Several InnovateOhio initiatives, some of which began last year, have been conducive to creating an inviting business environment in Ohio.  The CyberOhio Advisory Board is a collaborative that aids businesses in fighting cyberattacks and is an InnovateOhio initiative.  InnovateOhio is focused on key small business community priorities like broadband; the group released an Ohio Broadband Strategy and the GCP and COSE continue to be engaged in advocacy related to digital inclusion.  Lt. Governor Husted oversees Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI).  Since the launch of CSI, GCP and COSE small business members have been supportive of the agency as it reviews business-impacting rules, assisting in navigating regulatory obstacles.  The Lt. Governor also leads the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation, which connects Ohio's business, training, and education communities to build a skilled, productive, and purposeful workforce.

“I would like to thank the GCP for the recognition,” said Lt. Governor Jon Husted. “They have always been good partners in helping inform public policy makers about the needs of the Northeast Ohio business community. I have big hopes for the Cleveland area as we work with them to drive the Ohio economy forward with an innovation and talent strategy that makes the most of the great institutions and businesses of Northeast Ohio.”

The GCP and COSE are among others that have expressed widespread support for state legislation introduced by Senator Nickie Antonio – the Ohio Fairness Act – to ensure discrimination in housing, employment, education, credit and public accommodation are not permitted for reasons of sexual orientation or gender identity and expression.  The GCP and COSE are part of Ohio Business Competes, a non-partisan coalition including member companies, committed to achieving non-discrimination policies in order to attract talent, increase business-to-business and business-to-consumer relationships, and grow Ohio’s economy.  While the Ohio Fairness Act has not yet gained passage, the GCP and COSE join Senator Antonio in continually advancing the cause and denouncing all forms of discrimination. In addition, the GCP and COSE appreciate Senator Antonio’s leadership in addressing the unique concerns and challenges of women-owned businesses.  

“I am honored to receive the Small Business Advocate of the Year Award,” said Senator Nickie Antonio.  “Small businesses are the foundation of economic vitality in our communities and critical to our state’s success.  I am proud that the aims of the Ohio Fairness Act have contributed to this success and I pledge to continue to work on equality and fairness for all Ohioans to further support and lift up our small businesses.”

“We thank these elected leaders for their commitments to building a stronger Ohio that serves the small business community – and all Ohioans – in meaningful ways,” said Tim Opsitnick of Technology Concepts & Design, Inc. (TCDI) and COSE Small Business Caucus Chair.  “Our members take these awards seriously and base these decisions on the merits of positive policy actions, not on rhetoric or politics.”

Both elected officials will be honored by the Northeast Ohio small business community virtually in the near future on separate occasions.  The Small Business Advocate of the Year Award dates to 2013 honoring elected officials, recognizing those who have sponsored, endorsed, supported, or drafted legislation or led initiatives on behalf of small businesses throughout Ohio.