Helping small business Featured

10:18am EDT November 22, 2004
Serve, advocate and lead.

Those are the simple goals COSE has for serving small businesses in Northeast Ohio, but it takes strong leadership to band more than 16,000 businesses into a cohesive group.

Steve Millard, executive director of COSE, has faced that challenge since assuming his role in 1999.

Millard also took a leading role in consolidating several business organizations into the Greater Cleveland Partnership, where he serves as COO in addition to his role with COSE.

Millard focuses on creating a results-oriented culture. Under his leadership, COSE has accomplished the following.

* Membership grew from 15,800 to 16,400, with retention rates topping 90 percent.

* The number of discounted products available to members grew to include office supplies, mortgages, banking and credit card services and electricity.

* COSE held down health insurance rates despite skyrocketing costs nationwide and instituted wellness and disease-management programs.

* It launched a Business Plan Challenge to emphasize the importance of good business plans and gave financial rewards to the winners.

* The organization increased its advocacy efforts on the national scene to voice support for SBA loan programs.

* COSE partnered with 10 other entrepreneur and business support organizations to create NEO411.biz, a conduit between the entrepreneurial community and service providers.

Millard has created a culture at COSE that values results and those who achieve them. This earned COSE the highest honor by the National Association for Membership Development as the best chamber in the nation in 2002.

As COSE's volunteer leadership continues its work on behalf of their fellow entrepreneurs, Millard will continue his support to forward the cause of small business in Northeast Ohio. How to reach: COSE, (216) 621-3300