PD Frames the NEO Economy - and rightfully recognizes REALNEO!

Submitted by Sudhir Kade on Wed, 03/19/2008 - 18:08.

A nice writeup in the Plain Dealer by freelance contributor Terri Mrosko on the front page of today's Employment section provides a positive portrayal of our region and its ideal positioning as a region poised for significant economic progress.  The article makes strong points in mentioning a growing manufacturing sector and rising economic growth and employment numbers despite national indicators pointing to a deep recession.  As Mrosko points out, technology underpins these successes across the board -whether represented by a solid foundation of expertise in healthcare, engineering, and manufacturing technologies or the inspiring near-future potentials in alternative energy technology and nanotechnology.  While higher paying jobs in NEO are growing at a rate exceeding national averages (boosted by double digit growth in high tech, biomedical, and professional services), the region retains a double-digit advantage over national averages for metropolitan areas for cost-of-living.  A growing populace is living well!

The article justifies the philosophy that quality of place is an essential component to economic success.  World class cultural institutions, entertainment venues, athletics teams, and greenspaces pervade a space bordering the freshwater bonanza that is our Great Lakes.  As a result of many of these factors 'brain drain' has shown a definite slowdown, resulting in a retention of coveted homegrown talent.  Businesses reflect the global nature of today's transactions and landscape, with 200 companies here staked with significant foreign investment, representing ownership from 23 countries.  Mrosko further notes the importance of a strategic framework of collaborative organizations.   She makes mention of several such organizations forming an economic development value chain and the roles they serve in the big picture - among those highlighted include Entrepreneur's Edge, TeamNEO, Bioenterprise, Jumpstart, Nortech, and yes, REALNEO.  (see  the conclusion of: 'Resources and economic workforce development in Northeast Ohio').

I think it's nice validation to see a socially conscious and organic network like REALNEO getting significant mention has a key player in our regional economy - which it certainly is.  I think no other institution offers such an open venue for intellectual expression in holistically addressing and discussing key issues toward a sustainable development of our region.

I laud Mrosko for helping to bring the bigger economic picture and taking a systemic approach in outlining key success factors, functions and institutions working to drive economic growth for our region.  If I could suggest some value-added pieces to the discussion, it might be valid to point out opportunities that could be better capitalized on.  One is certainly the opportunity to cultivate better and more progressive leadership in our region.  This speaks to innovative visionaries that retain high standards of ethical integrity whilst making smart choices and taking calculated risks that reap regional rewards.  We could certainly use a little more of that - we at REALNEO have long espoused the need for strong ethical leadership and collaborative behavior.  Mrosko mentions several components that form a potentially strong value chain - organizations like TeamNEO to woo new investors and retain economic contributors, JumpStart to fund high-growth tech ventures, BioEnterprise to accelerate bioscience and healthcare technologies, and NorTech to guide regional technology strategy. 

These entities, including the shared sourcing agent NEOSO have been structured and  integrated tightly together by the Fund for our Economic Future and are thus complementary by design.  I think a few other organizations that formed somewhat independently, however, offer important value in helping to fill the gaps in the value chain and integrating them meaningfully will only add value.  This includes listening to the important organic voices of our region, expressed so eloquently in blogspace.  Partnerships could more meaningfully develop between Educational institutions, Civic institutions, Nonprofits and Corporate entitites to create value, and there is still much need for funding at the 'Pre-Jumpstart' Level - some of which comes now from entities like Lorain Community College's Innovation Fund (who I've done some work with of late) and the Cleveland Foundation's Civic Innovation Lab.

When these public-private partnerships become better defined by truly transcending lines of destructive competition and shifting to models of creative collaboration, great outcomes can result.  Consider the opportunities for a still significantly compromised underpriviled populace in our region.  Look to buisness models rooted in social enterprise that create generative potential in poorer communities.  Help level the playing field and create equity by combating the disparaging and debilitating effects of lead poisoning and proliferate ubiquitous and affordable access to WI-FI in compromised communities.  These mantras have been chanted for some time here and a regional response has been limited.

I'll soon meet with various officials and colleagues at Case to see how synergies can be better built with academic programs there to deliver more significant and positive community impact.  I'd like to include technology transfer in such a discussion - for there still remains great opportunity in better capturing developed innovations at our (25) regional universities and overcoming barriers to licensing, capitalization, and bringing these to market. I feel this could be better accomplished with collaboration between universities that could enrich and better potentiate these developments.  Creating accessibility to green collar and high tech job training opportunities to aspiring individuals from underprivileged communities needs to become a foremost priority.  Strong initiatives in health and nutrition can mitigate damaging influences, and when partnered with stronger educational efforts and parental support structures could make a big difference in creating equity and opportunity for all.  I've recently come to learn that some of our community colleges are much more pragmatic and effective with these basics than our most prestigious universities.

Thanks again , Ms. Mrosko for a nice framing of our regional economic picture - perhaps too nice!  I'll continue my ongoing consulting work with educational institutions to see if some of these core processes can facilitate throughput along the value chain - but let's certainly not forget building bridges that deliver economic benefit and opportunity to all our region's people. 

good to see the PD mentioning

social capital... despite the rest of the often bland whitewashed rhetoric they spout. Good eye, Sudhir! Now if only the foundation community and the GCP and government could begin to open their minds to the 21st century! Now that would be coolcleveland. We may have to remain committed though for another generation to, as a friend ours and a visitor to Cleveland refered to it, to "coupcleveland".

PD's website is possessed

  I know that RealNEO should not cast stones, but this curious tendency for article posts to get attributed to the anonymous comment posters such as 2mcurmudgeon (!) sure is strange.  Makes me wonder whether I have ghostwritten anything for the PD?  Crazy.

Schools end years in fiscal watch

'More proof that Eugene Sanders knows what he's doing' - by 2mcurmudgeon