GCP members from across Northeast Ohio convened Thursday for the 2019 Chairman’s Forum, featuring GCP Chairman Scott Chaikin and CEO Joe Roman discussing issues impacting the business community and providing updates on current and new GCP initiatives.
Framing the hour-long, members-only briefing and discussion are some impressive statistics. Since GCP was created in March 2004, the organization has generated approximately $450 million in catalytic real estate investment, secured billions in federal and state grants via GCP advocacy and created and/or retained more than 100,000 jobs.
A Fresh New Look
Chaikin, executive chairman of Cleveland integrated communications firm Dix & Eaton, opened the meeting with the unveiling of GCP’s new-and-improved brand identity. A comprehensive evaluation of GCP’s brand position, which was completed earlier this year, identified several challenges with the way the organization is perceived and understood in the communities it serves. Partners, members and other stakeholders agreed that there is some confusion about what GCP is and the work that it does, and that the organization could do a better job communicating the breadth and depth of its initiatives and accomplishments.
To that end, GCP is in the process of rolling out a refreshed brand identity with a new contemporary logo, an updated color palette and a brand consolidation that brings the various disparate divisions and programs across GCP together under one identity. Next steps in this effort include crafting a distinctive personality for the organization and developing messaging to help clarify and distinguish GCP and its programs.
ForwardCLE and the Cleveland Innovation Project
The ongoing priorities of the ForwardCLE Strategic Plan include building a better workforce and talent pipeline, fueling growth in the innovation sectors of our economy, creating a growth strategy around diversity, addressing structural tax impediments and enhancing neighborhood growth and opportunity.
The Cleveland Innovation Project, which focuses on the innovation economy but has related community priorities in all areas of ForwardCLE, was launched in June 2019 with a two-part focus. The first is to set Cleveland on a trajectory of sustained, rapid economic growth through focused investments in innovation sectors where there is national or global demand; and the second is to leverage innovation growth to close inclusion gaps and make Cleveland the leader in minority-led innovation. The effort is being conducted through five of the city’s prominent economic development and philanthropic organizations, including GCP, The Fund For Our Economic Future, The Cleveland Foundation, JumpStart and Team NEO.
Opportunity Corridor and the Opportunity CLE Loan Fund
A catalyst for job creation and community investment, the Opportunity Corridor, which will ultimately connect Interstate 77 and Interstate 490 to the University Circle neighborhood, has already helped attract $300 million in funding. On track to open in 2021, the new connectivity the Opportunity Corridor will provide promises to bring economic development to an otherwise disinvested part of the city, sometimes called Cleveland’s "forgotten triangle.”
Across Cuyahoga County, there are 64 neighborhoods identified as Opportunity Zones‑‑economically-distressed community where new investments, under certain conditions, may be eligible for preferential tax treatment. To bolster investment in these and other CDFI markets in Northeast Ohio, GCP is rolling out the Opportunity CLE Loan Fund. The fund’s three-fold purpose is to provide incentive capital with an investment focus, encourage private investments and create measurable community impact using criteria developed by the Urban Institute. Projected results suggest that the fund will catalyze more than 35 unique projects, $700 million in real estate and business development and $133 million in financing.
GCP Tax Competitiveness Study
GCP’s ForwardCLE strategic plan called for a better understanding of the impact of our collective tax climate. Data from a GCP tax analysis released in April, shows our region’s residents face a disproportionate tax burden when compared to our peer cities. To that end, GCP’s Board of Directors endorsed a resolution stating the organization’s intent to oppose future levy millage increases that fail to demonstrate a unique compelling contribution to our economy, a severe and urgent societal need or a more creative approach to achieving their objectives.
The decision, made by GCP member leaders in anticipation of additional levy requests to be proposed to city and county voters in 2020 along with potential increase that will appear on this November’s ballot, is intended to guide GCP’s advocacy positions until a comprehensive solution is identified.
“In order to maintain a competitive economic and social environment in Greater Cleveland, changing the tax picture has become imperative,” Chaikin explained in a recent press release. “Our current trajectory of continually expanding local taxes is not sustainable and it will severely limit our ability to improve the economy of our region, grow its population, and lift people up.”
Workforce Connect Sector Partnerships
Workforce Connect Sector Partnerships are a key component of Cuyahoga County’s overall workforce development ecosystem designed to support employers in finding the right skilled talent through business-led sector intermediaries in manufacturing, health care and IT over the next three years.
The first to launch is the Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership, led by MAGNET and GCP as intermediaries. Since kicking off in February, the Workforce Connect Manufacturing Sector Partnership has successfully recruited and convened an employer-led leadership team of 14 diverse manufacturing executives. In addition, over the course of multiple learning and planning sessions, the manufacturing leaders set a vision and selected key areas where employers can significantly impact the talent gaps in Northeast Ohio, connecting more jobseekers with financially rewarding career pathways.
Next to roll out is the Healthcare Sector Partnership, for which Cuyahoga Community College was just announced as the intermediary, followed by the IT Sector Partnership, which will launch in 2020.
Finally, GCP is focused on addressing worker mobility, as it remains a significant issue in our region. GCP and its members have been working closely with the Regional Transit Authority over the past year as part of their broader strategy. As the work is nearing a conclusion, the partners have identified operational cost savings, administrative and process indicators that can be implemented, and a large-scale capital backlog that requires community-wide attention. This information will be shared with the public in the coming weeks.
The Chairman’s Forum is just one of the many events hosted by GCP that connects the business community to resources and educational opportunities. Visit gcpartnership.com/events for a comprehensive list of upcoming events that could benefit your business.