Cuyahoga County reworking its five-year economic development plan
Cuyahoga County Council last week got a first look at the results of the Budish administration’s one-year COVID-19 stimulus plan, and a glimpse of what a new five-year economic development plan will do to pull it off part of the improvement of the economic environment.
During the pandemic, county leaders turned to a one-year economic plan in 2020 to deal with the huge disruption of downturns and business closures. Now that vaccines are available and the economy is showing signs of recovery, the county’s deputy director of economic development Paul Herdeg told council members it was time to look ahead.
Herdeg pointed to recent job recovery data, face-to-face return to work and diminishing short-term supply chain and logistics disruptions as signs that several economic sectors are recovering faster than expected. .
“As we hopefully move on to the next phase, we are in a bit of a transition, and when we talk about a plan, it’s a bit on hold,” Herdeg said on Monday, June 28, during ‘an economic conference. Meeting of the development and planning committee. “We’ll see how long the labor market disruption lasts and how downtown office space will recover. But we are certainly seeing signs of recovery and a return to normalcy.
Part of the county’s economic development plan for 2021-2025 is to “focus on investing in small and minority businesses” in a program called “Restore Cuyahoga,” Herdeg said.
Shashonna Duckworth, director of the Small Business Development Center at the Urban League of Greater Cleveland, said grants to small businesses and minorities over the past year have not only helped struggling businesses stay open, but have helped ensure that these companies become “bankable” by strengthening their finances.
The need to access emergency and relief capital meant that companies had their “documents” in order, resulting in business owners overcoming barriers to apply for traditional bank loans, a. said Duckworth. The Urban League, along with 11 partner organizations helping COVID relief funds, served 1,100 clients by injecting $ 15 million in capital into these businesses, which in turn created $ 65 million in revenue and retained more 840 jobs, she said. More and more companies are planning to apply for $ 155 million in state grants announced last week, Duckworth said.
Herdeg said Cuyahoga County plans to continue providing ongoing assistance for small business and minority loans, spending an additional $ 3 million for small start-ups that are not yet ready to receive funding from traditional lenders. .
On a larger economic scale, the long-term plan emphasizes supporting the implementation of the recently announced Cleveland Innovation Project. This project, launched in 2020, focuses on investments in three major growth sectors for the region: smart manufacturing, health innovation and water technologies.
Cuyahoga County recently committed $ 5 million to the Venture Fund of JumpStart Inc., which, in partnership with Team NEO, Greater Cleveland Partnership and Fund for Economic Our Future and other public and private organizations, is seeking to invest in innovation in these sectors.
“As part of the Cleveland Innovation Project, we aspire to raise and invest approximately $ 4 billion in innovation capital outside of Greater Cleveland by 2030,” Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart, told board members. county. “And then half of these investment projects, which would receive capital investment from the private sector, the public sector, philanthropy and others, would be led by women and at least 20% of these projects would be led by of black leaders in our community and at least 5% would be led by Hispanic and Latino members from the Cuyahoga and Greater Cleveland area. ”
Despite the good economic news, Herdeg said there remained major concerns about the recovery of the region’s hotel sector, which has seen eight consecutive years of growth through 2019, and the region’s historic difficulty in developing a hand -varied work.
Marketing the region both to revitalize the hospitality and leisure industries, and as a means of retaining and attracting talent is an adjustment to the previous five-year plan.
“COVID has shut down the whole industry, but as we come out of this (pandemic) we think we’re in a very good position, if we’re smart, to grow faster,” said David Gilbert, President and CEO of Destination Cleveland.
Part of the long-term “Build Cuyahoga” plan is to focus on workforce innovation and partner with Destination Cleveland and their network to research, promote and market the area as a location. of life and work.
Gilbert told council members that the tour and tourism organization was researching Cleveland’s image in other markets, including asking why people choose certain cities and not others to determine how to market the city and region.
“We can have all the job matches,” Gilbert said. “We can have all the opportunities for the people and the low cost of living, but if they’re not open to the message of Cleveland as a place to live, if they’re not willing to consider us from the start, no of these questions They still do not come here.
He added that marketing the area would be more fruitful with people open to coming here, including former visitors, expats from Cleveland and students already attending local colleges.
“We have to be smart about it. It is not enough to remove ads,” Gilbert said, adding that such a marketing plan has to be very targeted. “We have to fish where the fish are,” he said.
The plan has other important adjustments compared to the previous version 2020-2024. Potential spending plans for the influx of about $ 150-170 million in the US federal bailout plan to Ohio in the near future; policies aimed at bridging the digital divide with affordable broadband; and plans for creating a county utility and micro-grid, Herdeg said.