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55th Annual Public Officials Reception Brings Together Northeast Ohio Leaders

Approximately 500 business leaders and publicly elected officials from across Northeast Ohio gathered last Friday at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Museum in Cleveland for the 55th Annual Public Officials Reception.

This event, hosted by the Greater Cleveland Partnership, is important to the region’s forward momentum as it represents the mobilization of private- and public-sector leadership, expertise and resources. It’s also a unique opportunity for executives from a broad range of industries to lend their voice to the conversation and participate in a role shaping the economic future of Northeast Ohio.

Are you interested in also being active in working with the GCP’s Advocacy Team to create a positive business environment in Northeast Ohio and foster stronger relationships with public servants, such as was seen at last week’s Public Officials Reception? Click here to learn more about the GCP PAC, a nonpartisan, member-driven endeavor committed to advancing the business community’s interests by building and reinforcing relationships and supporting candidates and current elected officials at the state and local levels of government.

And click here for an overview of the GCP’s Advocacy strategic priorities and how the Advocacy Team is working to ensure a fair, positive operating environment for your business.

GCP Small Biz Leaders Named 2019 NSBA Board Members

Celebrating more than 80 years representing America’s small-business owners, the National Small Business Association (NSBA) is a staunchly non-partisan organization with members in every state and every industry in the nation.  NSBA is a strong partner of GCP/COSE, among other organizations, on public policy issues that are importance to the business community.
Last week, several GCP small business leaders traveled to Washington to participate in the NSBA Small Business Congress – an event in which leaders from across the country discuss, debate, and vote on NSBA’s federal policy priorities for the next two years.
The group that attended the event ranked the following five issues priorities for NSBA during the 116th Congress:
• Health Care Costs
• Tax Reform 2.0
• Trained Workforce
• Deficit Reduction, Entitlement Reform
• Cybersecurity, Financial Protection
Prior to the event, the NSBA Board of Trustees met, discussing its intention to name the following GCP members to the NSBA Board next year:
• Board Chair – Sharon Toerek, Toerek Law 
• Vice Chair – Advocacy – Mike Stanek, Hunt Imaging, LLC 
• Vice Chair – Communications – Kevin Johnson, Glenwood Management 
• Board Member – Michael Canty, Alloy Bellows & Precision Welding, Inc.

Please join us in thanking these Northeast Ohio small business leaders; GCP appreciates what you and so many of our members do on a daily basis to contribute to a vibrant economy.

What's New in CLE

GCP president and CEO Joe Roman recently sat down with WTAM host Bill Wills to talk about current and future projects happening around the Greater Cleveland area.
Roman commended Cleveland’s investment in its sports facilities at a competitive level to attract the MLB All-Star Game in 2019 and the NBA All-Star Game in 2022, as well as other major events. They also discussed the deal New York City struck to attract the new Amazon headquarters, and what the city had to give up to get the online retail giant to invest there. 
When discussing midterm election results, Roman recognized that there was a blue wave in the country but that it failed to hit Ohio. “There weren’t a lot of surprises, even though people expected there to be surprises,” Roman said.
They also noted the issue complicating the legalization of marijuana, which is that it is not approved at the federal level (for medicinal or recreational use). That has an impact on who can prescribe it and how it can be paid for, according to Roman. He said GCP’s position is to give employers as much flexibility as possible with how medical marijuana can be used at their workplace. “Don’t assume that all workplaces are the same. Don’t assume that all business owners are the same,” he said.
Icelandair’s acquisition of Wow Air is good for Cleveland, said Roman. Icelandair can now gauge the success of the Cleveland market and there is also now the possibility to have year-round service.
Finally, Wills and Roman discussed some big events to come to the Cleveland area. Blockland Cleveland will be featuring some of the biggest speakers in the industry next month and registration has picked up. And, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers held a successful convention with over 100 major companies looking to hire attendees. “Diversity of our workforce is important,” Roman concluded.

Listen to the full interview. 

Northeast Ohio Feels Regional Impact of Akron's Bowery Project

The impact of Akron’s $42-million Bowery project—which will rehab a half dozen historic buildings into one mixed-use complex—will resonate farther than just downtown Akron.

Financing for the project, which includes local New Market Tax Credits from Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA), closed on Nov. 16, coinciding with the groundbreaking. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2019 and will produce 92 apartment units across the buildings as well as a 200-seat theater in the Civic Auditorium that will anchor the project and is expected to add 100 new events each year to the city. An additional 36,000 square feet of retail; 4,000 square feet of boutique office space; and 150 parking spaces reserved for the project in an adjacent city-owned garage are included as well.

The project is strategically located at the intersection of Bowery and Main, blocks from the Akron Children’s Museum, Canal Park (Home of the Akron Rubber Ducks, the AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians), the University of Akron, and a key intersection of the historic downtown Akron business district. 

“Companies in U.S. metro areas and especially the millennial talent for which they compete are demonstrating that they want to locate in, or have ready access to, vibrant urban places,” officials at the Bowery Development Group said. “The Bowery project will reenergize downtown Akron by solidifying it as one of the city’s most valuable districts for culture, entertainment and residential use and will not only contribute to sustainable growth for Akron but also serve as an economic driver for the Northeast Ohio region.”

Drawing in visitors
Howard Parr of the Akron Civic Theatre said the ripple effects of the development project will be felt well outside of Akron’s city borders via the influx of visitors from surrounding Northeast Ohio communities who will be drawn in by the additional events hosted downtown. Showcasing the city’s renovated, historic structures will aid in bringing people in, too, he said.

 “It’s a total transformation,” he said. “We’re not just restoring the past, but we’re also creating a future.”

Parr lauded the coordinated effort it took to put the project together, which included CDA; the Bowery Development Group; the Development Finance Authority of Summit County; the Downtown Akron Partnership; Huntington Bancshares; LDA Architects; the John S. Knight Foundation; National Trust Community Investment Corporation; the GAR Foundation; the Summit County Land Bank; The Community Builders; and Welty Building Company.

“Every single aspect of the community: the public and private sectors, the nonprofits and for-profits, they’re all working toward the same end and that’s essentially what it takes for it to be a successful project,” Parr said.

Ohio & Erie Canal impact
Dan Rice of the Ohio & Erie Canalway Coalition, the Akron-area non-profit canal advocacy organization, also pointed to an increase in activity and use of the nature trails as a result of the work being done at the Bowery that is enhancing the city’s common spaces. 

With its strategic location at the gateway to the Towpath Trail connector in downtown Akron, the Bowery will change the face of Akron for thousands of visitors. Instead of a series of beautiful-but-deteriorated buildings, visitors will now find historically renovated reminders of the golden-age of American manufacturing, bustling with restaurants, retail, and ongoing programming along Locks 3 & 4 thanks to the Akron Civic Theatre. Akron stands to benefit from the increased economic impact of more people using the trail system through things such as lodging, bike rentals, canoe deliveries, rental income, additional activity at local restaurants, and more, he said.

“This is crucial to our continued economic development in downtown Akron,” he said. “I’m extremely excited.”

Project details
The inclusion of New Markets Tax Credits (NMTCs), which contributed a total of $20 million of financing for the project, proved critical for the Bowery. Redevelopment would not have been possible without that capital. CDA provided the NMTCs at the local level while at the national level, the NMTCs were provided by National Trust Community Investment and Community Builders. Additional financing was secured via a mix of historic tax credits; tax increment financing; HUD 108 financing; FHTC equity; SHTC equity; land bank grant; conventional debt; and owner financing.

The Bowery project represents a significant milestone for CDA, which has invested more than $400 million in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County projects during the past three decades, as it marks the first time CDA has gone outside of that region in providing financing. It’s also a watershed moment for Akron and could lead to future collaboration with groups across the region in reshaping Northeast Ohio.

“At CDA, we always look to create the maximum return for residents and businesses of a community when we invest NMTCs in a project,” CDA President Yvette Ittu said. “That means creating quality jobs during and after construction, developing housing and commercial space that helps neighborhoods thrive and providing community services like access to healthy food and recreation space. This project checks all the boxes. With anchor tenants like the Akron Civic Theater, the existing community space at Locks 3 and 4 and the proximity to the towpath and the nationally renowned Cuyahoga Valley National Park, it was clear this project needed to be done for the City of Akron, its residents and all of Northeast Ohio.”

Added DeHoff Development Company President Dan DeHoff: “But for the NMTCs, this project would not be possible. We had to compete nationally for this finite and critical resource and through an amazing collaboration with public and private community leadership, we came together to focus on our shared goal to secure this last piece of financing.

CDA’s mission is to invest in real estate and business projects intended to attract additional development with the overall goal of improving the character and vitality of Greater Cleveland. Click here to learn about other CDA projects.

Nominate Your Emerging Leaders for GCP LEAD

We are still accepting nominations of emerging leaders from Greater Cleveland Partnership member companies for the 2019 GCP LEAD Cohort 4. You may nominate one or two individuals.

GCP LEAD (Link. Engage. Advocate. Develop.) was created because the GCP recognizes the importance of cultivating our region’s future business and community leaders through becoming engaged in the GCP's work.  

Nominees must have at least five years of professional experience and an interest in getting involved in the GCP's priority areas of education and workforce, advocacy, diversity and inclusion, business development, physical development, and small and middle market initiatives. 

To submit your nomination(s), please contact Angela Finding at afinding@gcpartnership.com

GCP Supports Economic Development Policies in Lame Duck Session

As the Ohio General Assembly rounds out the rest of this year, several pieces of legislation are moving that could have an impact on economic development efforts in Northeast Ohio. HB 469, sponsored by Representatives Kirk Schuring and Tom Patton,  would create a mixed-used tax credit that would support important real estate projects like NuCLEus. SB 309 – also referred to as the “mega jobs bill” and sponsored by Senators Bob Peterson and Stephanie Kunze – seeks to primarily expand the Job Creation Tax Credit to make the tool more attractive for companies seeking to locate and create jobs in Ohio. Both bills recently received hearings in the Ohio Senate Ways and Means Committee. 

GCP offered testimony and recommendations for both. HB 727 – which has recently been referred to the Ohio House Finance Committee for consideration – would create a statewide Opportunity Zone for Ohio. This would complement the existing Opportunity Zone program created in the 2017 Jobs and Tax Act. GCP played a pivotal role in recommending key Opportunity Zone tracts for Greater Cleveland and will work closely with the sponsor of HB 727, Representative Kirk Schuring, and other legislative leaders on the bill’s passage.