Building a Healthy, Sustainable Economy
Imagine a city whose heart throbs with life, surrounded by stable neighborhoods. A city where construction cranes dot the landscape, attesting to a building boom. Where a vibrant port and airport serve domestic and international markets. Where an offshore wind farm powers and empowers, marking the region as a hotbed for research, development, and manufacture of 21st-century technologies.
That’s the Cleveland we’d all like to see – a core city emblematic of a revitalized Northeast Ohio. It’s captured in the vision that guides the Cleveland Foundation’s economic development strategy: Cleveland as a thriving and sustainable economy that is globally connected and known for innovation.
To realize this vision, we’ve targeted five priorities that we see as building blocks of a healthy, sustainable economy. All five are closely linked; success in one breeds opportunities for collective success. We could tackle none of them without our generous donors, who make this work possible.
Putting Cleveland on the Map
Location, location, location. With easy access to waterways, highways, and two of the nation’s three largest cities, Cleveland is an ideal choice for international businesses seeking to launch U.S. operations. Thus, we’re promoting Cleveland as a gateway to the entire country for companies, investors, and new technologies.
It works the other way, too. We’re supporting the expansion of local companies into global markets that offer untapped export opportunities.
Key Grantee Partners
- Team NEO, a joint venture of Northeast Ohio’s largest metro chambers of commerce. Part of Team NEO’s focus is to attract international companies looking for an entry point into North America. In 2012, we continued our support of Team NEO with a $750,000 grant for business attraction.
- Global Cleveland, launched in 2011. Global Cleveland works to grow the region’s skilled workforce, enhance its pool of entrepreneurs, attract new businesses, increase exports, and foster the cultural diversity that enlivens cities and draws bright newcomers with big ambitions. The foundation has played a significant role in its startup, and most recently provided $300,000 in grant support.
- Ohio Aerospace Institute, collaboration among industry, government and academic sectors to foster competitiveness through research, education, and the adoption of technology. The foundation provided a local match of $150,000 required for a federal grant to increase aerospace exports from Ohio-based, small- to mid-size, qualifying aerospace manufacturers.
Calling All Entrepreneurs
Northern Ohio was once home to a mind-boggling number of inventors and entrepreneurs. It’s a glorious history, but the nostalgic glow from Charles Brush’s arc light and Thomas Edison’s electrical discoveries can’t light our path forward today. We must look elsewhere to recapture the spirit of experimentation and risk-taking that helped catapult the region to leadership in the Industrial Age.
Innovators are all around us: in established corporations, startup ventures, garages. To take flight, their ideas need financing. They also need to germinate in a nurturing culture that understands with entrepreneurship, failure is an option; defeat means never putting your breakthrough to the test.
Key Grantee Partners
- JumpStart, which helps early-stage businesses and ideas make the leap to venture-ready companies. We’ve supported JumpStart or its predecessors since 1997, most recently with a grant of $700,000 in 2012.
- BioEnterprise Corporation, which is dedicated to commercializing biomedical research and launching young companies. Our grants, including $750,000 in 2012, help BioEnterprise connect health care startups to investors, expertise, and research.
Just as diverse communities of people inject vitality into a city, a diverse mix of industry clusters can propel a thriving local economy. By cultivating critical masses of interconnected industries in Northeast Ohio, particularly in growth industries, we can not only spur innovation and new business formation; we can also preserve the best of what we have, ensuring that our industrial, supply chain, research, and human assets stay right here.
It’s equally important to stake a leadership position in more narrowly defined niche markets. In Northeast Ohio, we have the economic infrastructure to support niches such as medical imaging, medical devices, offshore wind power, and flexible electronics.
One overall imperative: Maintain the focus on technology-based industries, which represent the economy of the future. Growth in the tech sector impacts the entire workforce, spawning good jobs even outside the sector.
Key Grantee Partners
- NorTech, which develops regional innovation clusters to grow Northeast Ohio’s emerging technology industries, with a focus on advanced energy and flexible electronics. We provided NorTech with grants of $750,000 in 2011 and 2012.
- LEEDCo, the public/private partnership launched in 2009 to create an offshore wind industry in Northeast Ohio. Step one is to build and install the world’s first freshwater wind farm: nine wind turbines in Lake Erie, generating an initial 27 megawatts. Generating jobs, too. We backed a feasibility study of offshore wind potential in the lake, provided significant leadership, and awarded LEEDCo a $750,000 grant in 2011.
- WIRE-Net, which works to strengthen manufacturers and the regional business climate for manufacturing. Our $350,000 grant helped fund three WIRE-Net economic development initiatives in 2012. We helped underwrite WIRE-Net’s formation of GLWN (originally, the Great Lakes WIND Network), which is building the region’s supply chain capacity for wind energy.
- BioEnterprise Corporation, which is dedicated to commercializing biomedical research and launching young companies. Our grants, including $750,000 in 2012, help BioEnterprise be the lead advocate and catalyst for new and transformative opportunities to accelerate the growth of the bioscience sector.
It’s All About Jobs
The sole aim here is to boost job creation and economic investment. That means encouraging top-line growth at Greater Cleveland companies and institutions by helping them to develop new products and enter new markets. That means retaining existing jobs, and attracting new companies to the region. That also means leveraging our anchors to attract or create jobs using their procurement power.
Key Grantee Partners
- MAGNET, which champions manufacturing to transform the regional economy into a global player. In 2011 and 2012, we authorized grants of $400,000 MAGNET’s initiatives, including PRISM, or Partnership for Regional Innovation Services to Manufacturers. PRISM aims to improve the ability of small to mid-size manufacturers to access and apply external resources lead to successful execution of growth plans, thereby creating more jobs and investment in the region.
- Team NEO, a joint venture of Northeast Ohio’s largest metro chambers of commerce. Team NEO’s primary focus is to market the region and attract companies looking to expand into Northeast Ohio. In 2011, we continued our support of Team NEO with a $750,000 grant for business attraction.
- WIRE-Net, which works to strengthen manufacturers and the regional business climate for manufacturing. Our $350,000 grant helped fund three WIRE-Net economic development initiatives in 2012, including helping small and mid-size companies explore new markets.
Healthy Core City
Because Cleveland Counts
Although the scope of regional economic development stretches to distant markets like China and India, Cleveland remains at the core. If the core is rotten, it won’t much matter what we do in Shanghai or Mumbai, or even how much the region prospers. If the core is rotten, the region would not be able to sustain its growth in the long run.
This priority is about stimulating job growth and business expansion that will make our city competitive. It is about inclusion of city residents in the economic prosperity of the region. It’s the crux of our mission as the community foundation of Cleveland.
It’s also a tall order. Success demands fresh thinking and bold new approaches to break down long-standing economic divisions and improve residents’ financial stability.
Key Grantee Partners
- BioEnterprise Corporation, which is dedicated to commercializing biomedical research and launching young companies. Over the last three years, our grants, have helped BioEnterprise make the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor, an emerging area that stretches between University Circle to the east and Cleveland State university to the west, a focal point for biomedical companies, business incubators and other young tech firms.
- Economic and Community Development Institute, a microlender and community development financial institution. The foundation played an instrumental role in ECDI’s expansion from Columbus to Cleveland, thereby meeting an unmet demand from small businesses for loans up to $100,000.
- Bad Girl Ventures, a microlender and business coaching nonprofit that targets women-owned businesses. The foundation helped bring the Cincinnati-based program to Cleveland in 2011, providing startup support for Cleveland operations.
- WIRE-Net, which works to strengthen manufacturers and the regional business climate for manufacturing. Our support over the years has helped retain and grow the small- and mid-size companies based in the core city of Cleveland, through the urban redevelopment initiative and the new market initiative.
An Example of an Economic Priority in Action
The Cleveland Foundation believes Greater Cleveland can claim a position of leadership in the emerging advanced energy industry, spurring the creation of thousands of jobs while also improving our local energy future. We’re working with a number of partners to accelerate advanced energy activity in our region. Our grants in advanced energy span a wide range of projects, from the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University to the formation of Evergreen Energy Solutions in Greater University Circle.
Focus: The Cleveland Foundation supports and promotes efforts to develop an advanced energy industry in Ohio though research, grantmaking, and public advocacy.
What we’re doing: Educating and informing the public and key decision makers.
The foundation’s board granted $200,000 to the Cuyahoga County Commissioners to help fund a feasibility study around the installation of electricity-producing wind turbines in Lake Erie. The project was proposed by the Cuyahoga Regional Energy Development Task Force.
Advanced Energy Research
Electric vehicle/PHEV study
A Cleveland Foundation-commissioned study, conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute, concluded that with a substantial increase in the use of electrically powered vehicles nationwide and a retooling of its manufacturing base to support production of these vehicles, Northeast Ohio could potentially gain more than 10,000 new jobs and increase its annual economic output by billions of dollars. Download four different documents related to the study:
Renewable energy portfolio study
The Cleveland Foundation commissioned the consulting firm ICF International to study the potential impact of a advanced energy portfolio standard (AEPS) on electricity prices in Ohio. An AEPS would require utilities in the state to produce a certain percentage of electricity through renewable sources such as solar or wind power. The study projected an almost-negligible impact on the price individuals and businesses would pay for electricity if an AEPS similar to the one in effect in Pennsylvania were adopted in Ohio.