Job creation, business development will be key to Cleveland’s continued growth

When long-time planning is combined with precise execution, the result is the kind of year Cleveland and Northeast Ohio had in 2016. Leveraging that success will pay big dividends. So how do we drive business and economic growth by building on that momentum?

We have a broad sector of Northeast Ohio business and thought leaders working with us at the Greater Cleveland Partnership to synthesize ideas and determine where the business community’s focus should be.

The conversations are ongoing, but some themes are emerging. Here’s a snapshot of three of them:

Workforce development
Unlocking the talent and potential of our region’s population while continuing to attract more talent is fundamental to continuing our momentum. Although the GCP is already involved in education and workforce development, we recognize the need to ramp up our efforts. We know that employers have immediate challenges, so building our talent pipeline must be a top priority.

Business development
Our region’s long-term success depends on creating an environment that excels in supporting existing companies, prioritizing growth of our most capable businesses and creating new ventures. Work by the GCP’s business development team, in partnership with the JobsOhio network, has helped spur job creation and investment by the strong base of companies that call Northeast Ohio home. This includes over 3,700 jobs created and more than 4,500 jobs retained in 2016 and the first half of 2017.

Providing assistance, resources and connections to support the growth of Northeast Ohio companies is just one part of a multifaceted approach. Having the right government policies and regulations in place to encourage that growth is also crucial. The GCP strives to be that “one voice” for the employer community, and we’ll continue to speak out loudly and clearly through our government advocacy team.

Diversity and inclusion
Growing our region must be an “all-in” effort. From the business community’s perspective, this includes supporting the growth of Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs), helping companies build an inclusive board, leadership team and workforce, and ensuring that economically distressed neighborhoods are part of Cleveland’s ongoing renaissance. Our own real estate investments are aimed squarely at neighborhoods throughout the city.

The GCP’s Commission on Economic Inclusion continues to be a major force as a lead partner in the Minority Business Collaborative, a core group of organizations working to assist MBEs. In addition, the commission’s diversity and inclusion organization assessment provides employers with a tool and benchmarks to examine their own diversity and inclusion efforts.

A city on the rise
The talk about Cleveland today frequently calls it “a city on the rise.” The generation-long effort to realize a year like 2016 has paid off. As we continue to discuss how the business community can leverage that momentum, we welcome your comments on these topics at [email protected]:

  What are your most urgent talent needs?
  What resources and connections do you need to grow your business?
  What would help your company advance diversity and inclusion as a strategy for growth?

Joe Roman is president and CEO at Greater Cleveland Partnership