Civic leaders are hard at work plotting Cleveland’s future

Cleveland had a magnificent year in 2016, but David Gilbert, Jennifer Kramer and the rest of the team at Destination Cleveland are committed to making the years ahead even better.

“People want to see our city thrive,” says Kramer, senior communications manager for Destination Cleveland. “With each person who gets on board and identifies their passion within, we get so many ideas. I don’t foresee a shortage of ways we can continue the momentum to help people understand what is happening here from a travel and tourism perspective.”

Kramer says Gilbert, president and CEO of Destination Cleveland, is not just looking at what can happen in Cleveland this year or in 2018.

“He’s looking ahead five years, 10 years,” Kramer says. “We know that in our business even when we have things like a Republican National Convention and a World Series and an NBA Finals, it takes time to change the narrative. It was 40 or 50 years of people thinking negatively about our city. It can’t be changed with a couple press releases and a great marketing campaign. It does take time. But our community has really pulled together to get on board.”

In this month’s issue, I spoke with Kramer about the script Cleveland signs going up around town and with Ashley Basile Oeken about how Engage! Cleveland is making the city more welcoming to young professionals. I also spoke with Keith Strauss from Entrepreneurs’ Organization Cleveland about the optimism that business owners feel about the economy.

Kramer says the events of 2016 got the headlines, but there were already a lot of things in the works that have put Cleveland in position for a bright future.

“You think about the development downtown, the plans for Public Square and the Flats, the convention center being built,” she says. “Downtown is really starting to take shape again. The neighborhoods surrounding it are blossoming. It was a perfect storm for everything — the development, the passion, social media and the new things that were coming to the surface here.”

The business sector will obviously play a key role in Cleveland’s future and this month, we recognize the family businesses that have made Northeast Ohio their home for generations. The combination of businesses that have made an investment in the community, nonprofits working hard to sell the city to outsiders and passionate individuals who love their hometown signals great days ahead for the city of Cleveland.

Mark Scott is Senior Associate Editor at Smart Business Cleveland