We can learn much from how star Olympian Jesse Owens led a resilient life

The amazing thing about the life of famed Olympian Jesse Owens is that it was all amazing. Against all odds, he accomplished outstanding track-and-field feats and led a life of challenges that required much resilience and flexibility.

Owens is the subject of this month’s Uniquely Cleveland — his family moved to Cleveland when he was 9 and he spent his formative years here. He died in Tucson, Arizona, in 1980.

Besides the culture shock from relocating from the segregated Deep South where he had seen few, if any, white people, young Owens had to deal with a new name. When Owens, whose given name was James Cleveland Owens, enrolled in school, a teacher misunderstood his Southern drawl “J.C.” as Jesse. The name stuck.

Perhaps the new name gave Owens an unconscious boost to transform into a world-class athlete. But chances are it is only part of the fabric that includes resiliency and flexibility. Owens was involved in a number of business ventures and had various occupations after his Olympic career. He even had to take part in “athletic showcases” such as racing against horses or racing against local runners with a 10-yard head start. While he did not graduate from The Ohio State University and racism limited his opportunities, Owens made a decent living through his entertainment pursuits and positions with companies ranging from Ford Motor Co. to Mutual of Omaha to Sears Roebuck.

Over the years, he became a symbol of American freedom and social mobility. He was a living example that a black American could find success in the land of opportunity.

His entire life could be seen as a calm center in a world of chaos. It is said great leaders exhibit great calm. Owens went to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin expecting to find a hostile atmosphere toward him. But it was the opposite. Germany cheered for him and honored him.

Ironically, Owens didn’t qualify for the 1932 Olympics because a case of nerves prevented him from doing his best. By 1936, he had found a calm center, went into competition without fear and triumphed.

Pretty amazing, isn’t it?

It’s no accident the best things in life are right here in Cleveland, Ohio

Remember this catchy song from the popular 1970s TV commercial? “The Best Things in Life Are Right Here in Cleveland” paid tribute to some of the reasons that Cleveland’s a great place to live. Looking back on the nostalgic tune, a lot of the city’s selling points still hold up.

For the last three years, I’ve had the honor of judging the regional and national EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competitions in the distribution and manufacturing category. This experience has been enlightening, and my most significant realization might seem like the most basic — businesses operating in Northeast Ohio should be proud of how our region compares to the rest of the U.S.

This is particularly true in local manufacturing, which is a more viable and diverse sector than ever. Statewide, industrial companies account for nearly 20 percent of revenue, and our strong recovery from the last recession is evidence that manufacturers are continuing to multiply and thrive because of technology and innovation.

Northeast Ohio lesson

What I’ve learned as an EY judge from my exposure to hundreds of highly successful companies across the country is that Northeast Ohio firms can promote more aggressively the benefits of being located here and discuss how to position the region as economically competitive.

From our incredible transportation infrastructure to our affordable cost of living and doing business, Cleveland rivals or surpasses any major metropolitan area or coastal city.

Affordable access to excellent business support resources is well within reach here, whether your enterprise is emerging or established. Accounting, banking, legal, marketing and other professional service providers are abundant and as qualified as any I’ve encountered.

Together with our world-class arts, entertainment, recreation and health care systems, the quality of life here has growing appeal that helps attract and retain top talent.

How can we leverage all these advantages?

  • Greater Cleveland business leaders and their organizations are every bit as savvy as their big-city counterparts. We should present ourselves this way.
  • The opportunity to create a prosperous business in this area or to grow a career with a Northeast Ohio organization is limited only by self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • We should invest in local companies and promote their stories.
  • We should form closer alliances with educational institutions that ready students for jobs in our region.
  • We should embrace our Midwestern values. As the “Best Things in Life…” lyrics go, we’re a big-league city and we’re little-league, too.

The best customers, suppliers and partners are all right here. Investing together in education and training will keep manufacturing and other jobs local and enable us to live up to the words of a classic Cleveland melody.

Eric Lofquist is co-owner, president and CEO of Magnus International Group Inc.,  an award-winning sustainable global products company. Eric is a regional and national EY Entrepreneur Of The Year ™ whose business has been ranked No. 1 on the Weatherhead 100.

Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland gives urban kids a boost to become better students, citizens

[Karrie Motley studying at St. Luke’s  Boys & Girls Club. Photo by David Liam Kyle]

While Semeka Randall may not have earned the nickname “Hard to Handle Randall” until she was a standout defensive player for the University of Tennessee women’s basketball team, she was on her way to earning that moniker as an 8-year-old playing against the boys at the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland.

“She grew up in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, and her mom was a single parent trying to raise her kids, keep food on the table and work two jobs,” says Ron Soeder, president of the Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland. Soeder cites Randall as an example of how the club helps young people reach their potential as productive, caring and responsible citizens.

Randall, a Trinity High School basketball star, went on to become a college coach.

“Her mom knew where Semeka was every day; she knew Semeka was with people who cared about her. Semeka got help with her homework, she got support from the club, and her mother didn’t have to spend a lot of money on day care,” Soeder says.

But if you ask Randall what was important about the club, she would say she learned how to play basketball against boys from the time she was 8 years old, Soeder says.

“She went on to be a two-time All-American at the University of Tennessee, she played in the WNBA and now she is the head women’s coach at Alabama A&M University.”

And Soeder proudly says Randall is just one of the 92 to 94 percent of kids in the Boys & Girls Club that graduate from high school.

Saving lives

It takes Soeder just a few words to succinctly describe the organization’s focus.

“We save kids’ lives,” he says. “We do that by providing them a safe and nurturing place to go after school and when they are out of school all summer long so they have access to positive role models and positive mentoring. We live to make a big impact in their lives.”

Soeder says what makes the mission live is to see the population the organization serves. Ninety percent of those families are at or near poverty level. Most are single-parent households, and 85 percent of the kids who attend the club are African-American and about 11 percent are Hispanic.

Boys & Girls Club takes a holistic approach to saving kids’ lives.

“First of all, we help our communities by making them safer,” Soeder says. “In our 12 locations, they each get between 125 and 150 kids a day in the critical time from 4 to 7 p.m. when crime is at its highest among young people. We have those kids off the street and we give them a safe place to go with people who care about them.”

Ten of the sites are in urban Cleveland, one is in East Cleveland and one is in Cleveland Heights. The club also provides kids with support in academics, character and leadership development and healthy lifestyles. The club served about 175,000 after-school meals last year.

When students arrive after school, the first order of business is their homework.

“If they don’t have any homework, we create opportunities for them to build their reading or math skills,” Soeder says. “We have daily arts programming — ballet, jazz orchestra, and vocal, dance, ceramics program and fine arts painting.”

Athletic leagues are offered year-round for sports such as volleyball, flag football, boys and girls basketball and baseball.

The organization is also developing work programs for high school juniors and seniors, and there is an urban farm on the club grounds through which students can learn an entrepreneurial regimen.

Building community

The club has a large board of directors — 56 members — to provide governing advice and strategic direction.

“You almost can name any company, and they will be represented on our board,” Soeder says. “They also provide corporate support and funding. One of our biggest funders in this program is Nestlé USA; we are a huge benefactor of that.”

Soeder says Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland is a $5 million business, and all but $8,000 is raised through philanthropy, including sources such as United Way, the George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation.

“We do charge kids $10 a year if they can pay it, and that’s where the $8,000 comes from,” he says. “Occasionally, we will rent space to another nonprofit. But we want to make sure we are viewed in our community as a resource.”

How to reach: Boys & Girls Club of Cleveland, (216) 883-2106 or www.clevekids.org

A CITY RESURGENT — Mayor Frank G. Jackson ensures that economic development momentum continues

All eyes are focused on the city of Cleveland — and it’s not just because the greatest basketball player on the planet is on the Cavaliers’ roster. Sure, LeBron James’ 2014 return to Cleveland is an important part of the city’s resurgence story, but what’s happening in and around the city — including the upcoming 2016 Republican National Convention — is part of a much larger and more important narrative.

Cleveland today is poised to be one of America’s next great comeback cities. As far as Mayor Frank G. Jackson is concerned, the timing couldn’t be better.

“People like to be part of success,” Jackson says. “Cleveland has gone from this clinically depressed mode to a ‘can-do’ mode and attitude. You see this, and it’s contagious.”

Wheels were in motion

But before either news of the RNC or James’ return became reality, the wheels were already in motion for Cleveland’s renaissance due to a series of well-publicized economic development projects.

In October 2008, the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority HealthLine (formerly known as the Euclid Corridor) was completed, paving the way for the growth of the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. Four years later, the Horseshoe Casino opened, adding a new spark to the revitalized downtown nightlife. During the summer of 2013, the $465 million Global Center for Health Innovation and Cleveland Convention Center opened its doors and began attracting large groups of out-of-town visitors. And then came several mixed-use developments, like The 9, which offered residential opportunities for the growing number of people who wanted to live downtown. And so, under Jackson’s watchful eye, Cleveland has become a city where people live, work and play.

POWER PLAYERS
CLASS OF 2015

This yearlong luncheon series featured the most influential leaders in the region sharing their perspective on why Northeast Ohio is such a great place to live, work and visit.

KEN CARMAN
Sportscaster
92.3 The Fan

cle_pp_KenCarmanKen Carman is a featured on-air personality on 92.3 The Fan and co-host of the popular morning radio show “Kiley and Carman.” A native of Canton, Carman has always maintained a keen affection for Cleveland sports. He fell in love with sports radio when he was 11 — listening during his paper route. The University of Akron graduate started his career hosting Friday Night Football, eventually working his way up to hosting his own show in Akron. Carman is a veteran play-by-play announcer and sportscaster on both radio and television.

LEE FRIEDMAN
CEO
College Now Greater Cleveland

cle_pp_LeeFriedmanLee Friedman joined College Now Greater Cleveland as CEO in June 2010, after serving as the inaugural president and CEO of the Cleveland Leadership Center. Under Friedman’s leadership, College Now has enjoyed tremendous growth. With a $12 million budget and 150 employees, the organization has doubled in size, now serving more than 25,000 individuals in five Northeast Ohio counties annually — growth that was recognized by the business community in her EY Entrepreneur of the Year® 2015 Northeast Ohio Award. In addition, Friedman has been invested in a number of impactful civic initiatives, including the Higher Education Compact of Greater Cleveland and the Cleveland Transformation Alliance.

THEODORE “TED” GINN SR.
Teacher/Coach
Glenville High School

cle_pp_TedGinnThe influence of Theodore “Ted” Ginn Sr. on high school football in Northeast Ohio and the lives of his student athletes cannot be overstated. A former player on the Glenville High School football team of the 1970s, Ginn became head coach in 1997 and soon led the program to national prominence. Several of his players have gone on to play in the NFL, including his son, Ted Ginn Jr. In 2007, Ginn helped create The Ginn Academy — an all-boys school in the Collinwood area where he serves as headmaster. Ginn always points out that his mission is not to win football games, it’s to save lives and souls.

CHRIS HODGSON
Chef/Owner
The Driftwood Group

cle_pp_ChrisHodgsonChris Hodgson is chef and owner of The Driftwood Group, one of Ohio’s premier restaurant and catering companies featuring eight award-winning establishments. A graduate of Le Cordon Bleu, Hodgson was the mastermind behind Cleveland’s first-ever food truck — Dim and Den Sum. He then founded a second truck before opening his premiere brick-and-mortar restaurant, Hodge’s, in 2012. Hodgson has been featured several times on Food Network, including a second-place finish on “The Great Food Truck Race” and an appearance on the 2013 season of “Food Network Star.” In 2013, he was nominated by Food and Wine as a Top 100 Best New Chefs.

FRANK G. JACKSON
Mayor
City of Cleveland

cle_pp_FrankJacksonCleveland’s 56th mayor, Frank G. Jackson, took office January 2, 2006. He has since been re-elected twice — in 2009 and 2013. As Mayor, Jackson is focused on ensuring that the city offers an excellent quality of life for every resident, business and visitor and is addressing every aspect of city operations and policy to guarantee that he reaches that goal, including city finances and operations, quality of life, public safety and development. Jackson is a Cleveland Public Schools graduate and Army veteran. He began his public service career as an assistant city prosecutor in the Cleveland Municipal Court Clerk’s Office. From 1990 to 2005, Jackson represented Cleveland’s 5th Ward on Cleveland City Council, and from 2002 to 2005 he served as president of Cleveland City Council.

CHUCK KYLE
Teacher/Coach
St. Ignatius High School

cle_pp_ChuckKyleChuck Kyle joined St. Ignatius High School in 1973 as an English teacher. By 1983 he became head coach of the school’s football team. A former tailback on Iggy’s undefeated team in 1968, Kyle has compiled an incredible record as head coach of 321 wins and 82 losses — including a staggering 11 Division 1 State Titles and three national championships. Affectionately known as “Chico” around campus, Kyle was named High School Coach of the Year by USA Today in 1989 and 1993. He and his wife, Patricia, who teaches art at Ignatius, have been married for 37 years and have four children.

JENNIFER NEUNDORFER
Co-Founder and CFO/COO
Flashstarts Inc.

cle_pp_JenniferNeundorferJennifer Neundorfer co-founded Flashstarts Inc., a startup accelerator and venture capital fund, in 2013. Today, she serves as the CFO and COO. Neundorfer is responsible for selecting and coaching companies, and making follow-on investment decisions at the end of the 12-week program. Through her prior experiences at YouTube, Google and Fox, she brings a world-class new media and technology background to her current role. Flashstarts mission is to change the world, one startup at a time, and is well on its way under Neundorfer’s leadership.

JOHN NOTTINGHAM
& JOHN SPIRK
Co-Founders and Co-Presidents
Nottingham Spirk

John Spirk

Spirk

When John Nottingham and John Spirk first met, they were students in the Industrial Design Department of the Cleveland Institute of Art. Soon, they became

Nottingham

Nottingham

the star pupils of Viktor Schreckengost, founder of industrial design education in the U.S. After graduation, the pair turned down lucrative job offers from Fortune 500 companies to start their own product design firm, Nottingham Spirk, in 1972. Developers of hundreds of patented products ranging from consumer products to medical devices, one of their first clients was Rotadyne, for which they focused on innovating industry-changing children’s products and designed the logo for the new company name, Little Tikes.

MARK & CHRISTI TRIPODI
Co-Founders
Cornerstone of Hope

cle_pp_MarkTripodi

cle_pp_ChristiTripodiInstead of being consumed by their grief when their 3-year-old son died in 2000, Mark and Christi Tripodi and family launched a way to serve others struggling with grief. Cornerstone of Hope offers programs including individual or group counseling, memorial events and crisis responses in the community. It offers support and guidance for grieving family members. When Christi’s aunt and founding board member Lisa Kurtz Luciano died in 2012, Cornerstone of Hope sought a way to remember her. Mark applied for the organization to be featured on Animal Planet’s “Treehouse Masters,” and a beautiful treehouse was built as a quiet place to relax along the grief journey.

Then, as if guided by serendipity itself, the RNC announced it would host its 2016 convention in Cleveland and James published his now-famous piece in Sports Illustrated saying he was coming home. Just like that, Cleveland arrived smack dab in the nexus of the media world’s attention with Jackson in the center of all of it, determined to make the most of the opportunity as he lays out an aggressive economic development plan for the city’s future.

On the mayor’s hit list are his new waterfront plan, renovation of Public Square, the new Flats East Bank project and the Opportunity Corridor. And despite this flurry of activity, the mayor hasn’t let the confluence of events change the way he views his administration’s focus.

“It’s hard to put a definite beginning or end to anything,” Jackson says. “Whenever you are mayor you inherit good things and you inherit bad things. And then you have things that you do [while you’re in office]. You try to eliminate or change bad situations into positive ones. You make sure you don’t ruin the good things. And then you find opportunities to do your own thing.”

No ‘rah-rah’ game

Jackson has a pragmatic view of the role of city government. He was elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009 and 2013. During that time, he has seen the completion of numerous economic development projects, shepherded others into full motion and laid out a vision for even more to be completed long after his time in office ends.

Make no mistake about it, the mayor doesn’t look at all this and play the “rah-rah” game.

“I don’t cheerlead,” he says. “I do. You don’t see me announcing anything until I see it’s going to happen. I don’t do the political side and then figure out how to get there. People have to have confidence that if the mayor says he’s going to do something, they have to know he’s going to do it.”

This has become a hallmark of Jackson’s career in public office. Unlike his predecessors, you don’t see Jackson hitting the stump to get public face time. He prefers to quietly and diligently work behind the scenes, getting things done. When you do see him in public it’s often because he’s announcing a project or initiative that’s underway and poised to create positive impact for the city he loves.

Take for example the lakefront project. After decades of dead plans and cheap talk, Jackson has taken action. He’s made it clear that the time is now to open up the lakefront for development, and developers are stepping over each other in order to hammer out plans to create viable economic projects along the shores of Lake Erie.

“We’ve had billions of dollars in development activity in Cleveland proper and the spinoff has benefitted greater Cleveland,” Jackson says. “The lakefront plan is a continuation of that. You can’t have this boom/bust stuff all the time where you have a lot of activity and then it goes away. What we’re looking at with the lakefront plan is really the next phase of the activity, something long term and sustainable.”

Jackson says the formula for success includes the city working with the private sector. His team is in the process of identifying workable financing tools that would allocate new property tax revenues from the project to pay for utilities, roads, landscaping and parks. This includes approximately $9 million upfront for infrastructure and green spaces.

Initiatives

One of the plans being put forth is for 28 acres of lakefront land, which would be leased from the city to Cumberland Development of Cleveland and Dallas-based Trammell Crow Co. It’s a mixed-use development project that would be located on sites north and east of FirstEnergy Stadium and at North Coast Harbor, near the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Great Lakes Science Center. It includes offices, apartments, restaurants, shops, parking, recreation areas and even a school.

Jackson says this initiative is possible only because the right things happened and proper pieces were put in place before going to market with the plans.

“That’s why the Flats East Bank was such an important project,” Jackson says, referring to the recent mixed-use project to revitalize the Flats. “It put to rest the question of whether Cleveland could develop a waterfront.

“So working with this current city council and president, we consolidated ownership along the lakefront. Businesspeople want to talk to you only if you control the land, and they don’t want to talk to multiple people,” he says. “We were able to consolidate that under the city of Cleveland, and reach other arrangements with the Port Authority, Burke Lakefront Airport and other entities. It was very clear who was responsible for what. If you wanted to do development, you had to come to the city of Cleveland because we had control over all the land that was developable.”

Jackson also retired long-circulated ideas about developing Burke Lakefront Airport and its 600 acres of seemingly useable land.

“It’s essentially a landfill,” he says. “What you would have to do to touch bedrock and then remove all the environmental issues would cost so much money that nobody can afford to build on it. When it gets to a point that the private sector says this land is so valuable that’s it’s a higher and better use to do residential, commercial, retail or offices there, and they’re willing to cover that cost to get it prepared environmentally because they know they can demand the rent and lease to pay for it, that’s another question. Until then, it’s a moot issue.”

Since Jackson’s announcement that Burke would stay put, there’s been an increased level of economic investment by aviation-related businesses that want to be near Burke and its easy access in and out of the city. So Jackson’s decision is bearing immediate fruit.

Jackson also points to another major initiative that’s setting the city up for future success — renovation of Public Square.

“You have to look at Cleveland’s downtown as a neighborhood, not solely a business or entertainment district,” he says. “If you’re downtown early in the morning you’ll see people walking dogs, bicycling and jogging. We probably have close to 13,000 or 14,000 people living downtown now. We believe when you get to a critical mass of 25,000 living downtown you’ll have demand for goods and services and amenities of traditional neighborhoods. You see that happening now with Heinen’s. And when you have people living downtown, you need green space. The Public Square project is creating a new downtown park.”

Opportunity Corridor

And then there’s the ambitious Opportunity Corridor, which Jackson says has a chance to replicate the impact achieved by the HealthLine.

“But it has to be strategic,” he says. “It’s a matter of timing.”

The new $331 million three-mile boulevard will extend from the end of Interstate 490 at East 55th Street to East 105th Street in University Circle and is scheduled for completion in 2020. But Jackson says timing and strategy are what will separate success from failure for the Opportunity Corridor, which is the development zone that’s planned around this new boulevard and would redevelop an area of the city damaged by decades of poverty, neglect, disinvestment and abandonment.

Many factors need to fall into place for this to be a real opportunity, he says. Otherwise, you’re just building a new road.

Most of the funding for the project, which has also been advocated by Gov. John Kasich, comes from bonds financed by Ohio Turnpike tolls. The money, distributed through JobsOhio, will be disbursed for shovel-ready projects, the mayor says.

And therein lies the rub.

Jackson points to the need for new infrastructure — fiber optics, water lines, utilities — before any land can be seriously developed. There’s also the fact that much of the abandoned property is industrial and needs some level of environmental cleanup Jackson says it’s hard to get shovel-ready projects lined up for developers who want to move now instead of wait a couple of years. So getting the money released from the state for much of the development beyond the road may end up being harder than originally expected.

That’s not stopping Jackson and the city from moving ahead as best it can. In October, the city’s planning commission approved boundaries for a design review district for the project and will begin to create a package of regulatory tools, including zoning, land use plans, design guidelines and the design review district, all of which would help shape development around the new boulevard.

All of this economic development is a whirlwind for Jackson. And if you spend any time with him hearing about the plans, you can’t help but admire his pragmatic optimism when discussing Cleveland and his administration’s role in its economic future.

“What I attempt to do is create a situation that regardless of the fluctuation in our economy or reality of the day that we continue to move ahead,” he says. “You have to be flexible enough to accommodate these changes. I want people to look at what we did and say that we prepared Cleveland for the future, and that we have positioned Cleveland in a way that it can deal with its future, and deal with it in a positive and prosperous way.”

And for a soft-spoken man like Jackson, these are words that are loud, clear and meaningful.

How to reach: City of Cleveland, (216) 664-2000 or www.city.cleveland.oh.us

Reinventing Cleveland: From rust belt to medical capital, numbers tell story of region’s transformation

 

Over the last 10 years, BioEnterprise has kept tabs on biomedical and health care investment in Northeast Ohio. As the region continues its transformation from Rust Belt to The Medical Capital, the numbers will likely surprise many people.

The most recent data shows Midwest biomedical and health care startups raised $507.8 million in the first half of 2015. Cleveland led that growth for the third time in the past five years, raising more money for health care startups than Minneapolis or Chicago. company creation and new jobs. Other states have launched similar programs in an effort to emulate its success.

During 2014, almost $400 million flowed into Northeast Ohio biomedical startups, most of it from the coasts. In fact, since 2005, more than 300 health care startups in Greater Cleveland attracted $2 billion in new private funding across the medical device, health care software, service and biopharmaceutical sectors.

Driving the rebirth

What has been the driving force behind the region’s success in health care and this biomedical-based economic renaissance?

First, it is the result of a coordinated and long-term effort to build on Northeast Ohio’s world-class health care infrastructure and long-established reputation for clinical care and medical research. The region is home to internationally renowned clinical, research and educational institutions, including Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and many others.

Together with other private, public and philanthropic partners, these institutions focused their efforts over a decade ago on translating this excellence into new lifesaving products and fast-growing companies.

In addition, Ohio had the forethought to create a unique funding resource — Ohio Third Frontier. This $2.1 billion economic development initiative provides funding to Ohio companies, universities and nonprofit research institutions to stimulate technology development, company creation and new jobs. Other states have launched similar programs in an effort to emulate its success.

Resources recognized nationally

The region now has a nationally recognized system of resources to support company growth, from startup through high growth stage to mature company.

JumpStart focuses on entrepreneurs and early growth companies, MAGNET on manufacturing, and Team NEO on aligning state and local resources to support company attraction and expansion.

Focused exclusively on the biomedical sector, BioEnterprise supports health care companies and helps to commercialize bioscience technologies.

Through its CEO-in-Residence program, for example, BioEnterprise recruits talent and provides the necessary resources to transform early-stage ideas into a full-fledged, growing business.

The big issue facing Northeast Ohio now is commitment to this growth trajectory.

Northeast Ohio is approaching the critical mass required for long-term biomedical sustainability. Witness the rapid increase of new companies, facilities and jobs in the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, the world-class companies now working together at the Global Center for Health Innovation and the now 700 area companies in the biomedical space. None of these efforts would have found such success 10 years ago.

These are signs of good things to come but also signs of the work left ahead of us. We should feel great about our progress, but there are challenges ahead, and we need to approach these challenges with the same commitment and foresight that got us here in the first place.

Aram Nerpouni is president and CEO of BioEnterprise, a Northeast Ohio biomedical acceleration initiative.

Five tips to successfully use graphic communications that can work virtually anywhere

Before we opened SpeedPro Imaging’s location, Lori and I did not have graphic backgrounds. Over the years, we’ve learned that visual communications can benefit any company, whether they are a printing company or a casino.

Not only is the overall quality of the product crucial to successful visual communications, understanding your customer and fulfilling their visions is important, too. Graphic communication is not just about creating a great project, but forming relationships with the customer that leaves a lasting impression of your brand.

Since opening, we have worked on a wide range of projects for companies such as the Horseshoe Casino and the Great Cleveland Aquarium that have strengthened our relationship with the Cleveland community.

Here are our five tips to successfully using graphic communications that can work virtually anywhere:

Know your business and your customer: Be willing to educate your customer on what works and what doesn’t work. Some customers want to know more about their options and what they are — be willing to educate them on the pros and cons of each option.

Respond to quotes quickly: Provide a detailed quote and provide examples of your work.  Customers appreciate a prompt response — it shows that you are interested and that you truly want to do business with them.

Provide options: Show your expertise and your talents: what works well for print graphic communication does not always translate well to large format on a vehicle wrap, wall mural or trade show display.  We explain the distinctions of large format versus small format advertising and graphics. When designing for large format there are file size and resolution considerations to take into account.

Quality: Be true to your beliefs in providing quality products and services.  Make sure your employees share the same passion and belief.  Hold to this standard and this will lead to a loyal customer base, referrals to additional customers, and a formula for continued growth.

Be flexible: be able to react and respond quickly.  Have the ability to change course quickly and adapt to your customers’ needs and schedule requirements — it will make you a valuable partner — and help ensure that you remain a valuable partner for the long term. 

Jeff and Lori Kolenich are the owners of SpeedPro Imaging located in West Cleveland. SpeedPro Imaging provides great big graphics for any size business. Visit www.speedproclevelandwest.com for information.

 

Reinventing Cleveland: From rust belt to medical capital, numbers tell story of region’s transformation

Over the last 10 years, BioEnterprise has kept tabs on biomedical and health care investment in Northeast Ohio. As the region continues its transformation from Rust Belt to The Medical Capital, the numbers will likely surprise many people.

The most recent data shows Midwest biomedical and health care startups raised $507.8 million in the first half of 2015. Cleveland led that growth for the third time in the past five years, raising more money for health care startups than Minneapolis or Chicago. company creation and new jobs. Other states have launched similar programs in an effort to emulate its success.

During 2014, almost $400 million flowed into Northeast Ohio biomedical startups, most of it from the coasts. In fact, since 2005, more than 300 health care startups in Greater Cleveland attracted $2 billion in new private funding across the medical device, health care software, service and biopharmaceutical sectors.

Driving the rebirth

What has been the driving force behind the region’s success in health care and this biomedical-based economic renaissance?

First, it is the result of a coordinated and long-term effort to build on Northeast Ohio’s world-class health care infrastructure and long-established reputation for clinical care and medical research. The region is home to internationally renowned clinical, research and educational institutions, including Cleveland Clinic, University Hospitals, Case Western Reserve University and many others.

Together with other private, public and philanthropic partners, these institutions focused their efforts over a decade ago on translating this excellence into new lifesaving products and fast-growing companies.

In addition, Ohio had the forethought to create a unique funding resource — Ohio Third Frontier. This $2.1 billion economic development initiative provides funding to Ohio companies, universities and nonprofit research institutions to stimulate technology development, company creation and new jobs. Other states have launched similar programs in an effort to emulate its success.

Resources recognized nationally

The region now has a nationally recognized system of resources to support company growth, from startup through high growth stage to mature company.

JumpStart focuses on entrepreneurs and early growth companies, MAGNET on manufacturing, and Team NEO on aligning state and local resources to support company attraction and expansion.

Focused exclusively on the biomedical sector, BioEnterprise supports health care companies and helps to commercialize bioscience technologies.

Through its CEO-in-Residence program, for example, BioEnterprise recruits talent and provides the necessary resources to transform early-stage ideas into a full-fledged, growing business.

The big issue facing Northeast Ohio now is commitment to this growth trajectory.

Northeast Ohio is approaching the critical mass required for long-term biomedical sustainability. Witness the rapid increase of new companies, facilities and jobs in the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, the world-class companies now working together at the Global Center for Health Innovation and the now 700 area companies in the biomedical space. None of these efforts would have found such success 10 years ago.

These are signs of good things to come but also signs of the work left ahead of us. We should feel great about our progress, but there are challenges ahead, and we need to approach these challenges with the same commitment and foresight that got us here in the first place.

Aram Nerpouni is president and CEO of BioEnterprise, a Northeast Ohio biomedical acceleration initiative.

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