County officials to spend cash for innovation

Submitted by prelude2cinema on Sat, 05/20/2006 - 11:22.

County officials to spend cash for innovation
Friday, May 19, 2006 - Tom Breckenridge - Plain Dealer Reporter

Cuyahoga County commissioners are plowing a growing amount of cash into the quest for business innovation.

Commissioners have paid $90,000 to a consulting team led by Ed Morrison, an economic development specialist whose creed is business growth through collaboration.

The commissioners voted Thursday to send $110,000 more to Morrison's team. The money is drawn from a $1.5 million pot that commissioners set aside this year to spur the local economy.

The investments are modest, considering the struggling region's monumental thirst for capital and new business.

But the commissioners and Morrison's team believe they can leverage tens of millions of dollars in private investment by strategically injecting tax dollars into emerging business sectors or "clusters," like medical devices and advanced manufacturing.

Morrison's team is also building innovation networks, in which business executives, investors, academicians and nonprofit leaders meet to brainstorm potential growth and act on promising trends in the local knowledge economy.

The effort is an outgrowth of a blue-ribbon economic development task force, assembled two years ago by Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones.

The task force and Morrison's team crafted an 80-page action plan geared to make the most of the county's scant resources for economic development.

It's a different approach in Cleveland's hierarchical business community, where company executives typically don't share their Rolodexes.

Morrison encouraged innovation through weekly development forums at Case Western Reserve University, where he once directed the Center for Regional Economic Issues.

That's where entrepreneur Herb Crowther hooked up with combustion expert Phil Lane. The two men formed Midwest Biofuels LLC, which sells soybean-based biodiesel fuel to truck fleets.

Morrison's collaborative approach "allows ideas to bubble up faster and get some footing," Crowther said. "It looks for less traditional ways of associating businesses that can help each other."

To foster such business growth, the commissioners plan to spread the $1.5 million among several initiatives.

Under North Coast Clusters, the county would work with groups like Nortech, a technology-focused development group, to bring promising technologies to market.

Jones said Nortech and NASA have already inquired whether chunks of the "clusters" money could be used to leverage state grants for research and new-product development.

Under Cuyahoga Innovation Zones, the county wants to invest in areas like Midtown Corridor, where the combination of high-tech companies, universities and the Euclid Corridor transit project provides fertile ground for business growth.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

tbreckenridge [at] plaind [dot] com, 216-999-4695

© 2006 The Plain Dealer
© 2006 All Rights Reserved.

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Prelude2Cinema congrats Ed Morrison and his team

It is great when good things happen to good people. Prelude2Cinema and others  have benefitted greatly from working with Ed Morrison and his team.

This Wed.  May 24th at Myer's University, his team (a.k.a. i-open) will be updating the community about the ongoing activities in Midtown. Everyone should take the time to attend this free and very informative event.

I-Open and Myers University are building the Midtown Innovation Zone.

"Midtown Wednesdays" are weekly forums hosted in partnership with Myers University, 3921 Chester Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44114, 5:00 P.M. to 6:45 P.M. Free parking is available in the adjacent National City Bank lot.

Again, congrats to Ed, Betsey, Dennis and Susan.


Alex P. Michaels

    A Branded Entertainment Company

Thanks for posting this Alex

I had planned to post something about this whan I saw it in the PD - I'm glad you did. It is very cool to see economic development here outgrow the pains of the past few years, which have been considerable. Many of us were outraged when Case dismantled the Center for Regional Economic Issues, which provided a great service to the region - Ed kept his work alive here with I-Open, while he went out and did great work in Kentucky, Indiana and rather quietly back here in NEO. Now that Case stakeholders have started a revolution (started by friends of Ed Morrison, you might observe), thrown out Hundert, and Case is without leadership, other community leaders must step forward in many unique ways. Great to see Ed and Cuyahoga County leaders leading the way.

i-open is Open

Yes, I've just gotten to know the i-open team, but they have been very helpful to me. I've made a lot of contacts and have some funds pending thanks to them. Everytime I talk to someone about them, I have to say "I-open is open." Which is true, but a statement about how people say they will help out anyone in the community, then give you the brush off.

I won't say who it was, but I remember a few years ago, I met with someone who was part of a group that was supposed to help businesses. He yawned twice, open mouth, during the meeting. It was so rude and bold that I never went back to that group. I've ran into the person since then, but haven't wasted my time in updating him on what I am doing.

Then again on the flip side, I met with Tom Sudow of Beachwood who was very helpful to me and gave a lot of good advice.  I ran into him recently and he was happy to see I am still doing things.

People like Tom and Ed and the i-open team are really great and do believe in helping out people in the community.

I have also met with Peter Lawson Jones. He is a true visionary and it is great to see him and Cuyahoga County leading the way.

We can not afford to only help a select few in the community. We have to give all the tools to build their businesses. The old companies that supported this region and provided employment are gone. We need to have as many new businesses thriving as possible. If we don't support growth, then people will leave the community and go somewhere else and enhance that community.

I don't blame Ed for working in Kentucky where he can openly get things done. I am glad though that he has not totally abandoned the region like some others have done. It's nice that i-open is open.


Alex P. Michaels

    A Branded Entertainment Company

County Commissioners seem to step up...

I've been impressed with lots of bold action by the county commissioners, and the people I know in thier office, and I know Ed Hauser feels the same - and them spending $110K more with Ed Morrison shows they are investing in smart planning - I see all this as real progress for the region.

I know Lawson Jones is into theater, so he should be supportive of film!

always money available for studies...

What's irksome to me about running small businesses in this area is that there's always money available to do some more studies or to pay for consulting, but that's about as far as it ever goes. "It" is talked about, analyzed, and workshopped to death, but precious little ever really happens. It's like a Beckett play.

It's good to hear "they're" finally paying to listen to Ed, though. But what's to guarantee "they'll" do more than listen?

You're part of the solution

We are all to say "they're" going to do the right thing. In addition to working with Ed Morrison, and I-Open, we work with Voices and Choices and we speak our independent minds and collaborate in new ways "they" can't begin to control or understand, and so we may rule the world... or do nothing and be ruled. The IT revolution's just beginning - big ramp up to the elections this November - everything changed by next Presidential election, funded by Gund and Lewis and other self-respecting world leaders who cannot tolerate what has been done under Bush and his radical right wing Christian front. So, global politics will drive Americans to a new height of enlightenment and appreciation for and through technology that will activate them locally.

We go it alone too much

Norm, sometimes I just get lonely and tired. "We" have been doing the right thing for a good while now in Cleveland, and it's been time-consuming and expensive--it's cost us in a number of ways to do something more than pay just lip service--and there has been little reward, too long a wait on the payback. It has been and continues to be a constant struggle to maintain a "value" position in this area, to save and restore what's irreplaceable, to eschew the easy money and the quick fix, to set up a sustainable community.

Berlin - we need your help here...

Years ago I was in an entrepreneurs group at Enterprise Development Inc. and suggested what entrepreneurs really need is mental counseling - not to convince them they are crazy but to reassure them they are sane. We need the same counseling for activists, who are really social entrepreneurs, otherwise known as risk-takers.

We've lived through decades when the US, Ohio and local governments kill, torture and marginalize activists and social risk takers - from massacring Kent State students just "remembered" to racial profiling by cops all around NEO today - the Feds learned from screwing up the Red Scare that persecution isn't good enough... you need to take the "enemy" out for good - now all peace activists are "terrorists". So now it is lonely, because they killed and silenced all your friends, who were to be the young progressive leaders from the 1960s. The baby boomers who didn't get the Summer of Love started the Winter of Hate, and you're not a hater. 

Consider the extreme opposites - we've gone from the time when everything was about peace and nature and love to today when even basic personal freedom is marginalized by spiritually flawed conservative haters - and the key to their success was the Kent State killings, right here in Ohio.

Popular media was really fine tuned in the 1970s through to today to reprogram Americans - the Federal government dismantled freedom of the press and civil liberty at the top, and enabled corporate consolidation to remove competition at the bottom. So all the folks at the bottom need to rise up again to be equals. Otherwise, we're slaves.

Berlin is into counselling - perhaps she can help... we just need to stay strong and get the next generations on track

I like what I know about the county commissioners

The county commissioners bought Whiskey Island - and they are demanding top dollar for county land that CCC wants to use to further sprawl corporate collage out east - and they are going to revitalize an important nexis in NEO with their new HQ development at E9th and Euclid/Prospect/Huron - and they employ Paul Alsenas, even if they don't always let him do his job - what's not to like?

Pay to Talk

I definitely understand your comments Tim about there seems to be money for consulting and studies, but that is as far as it goes. As you know I have a small business and I have ran into many people who are more concerned with their consultanting fee, but if you ask them to help you out, then they give you a little advice and boot you out the door.

I'm talking to i-open right now and they are helping me with talking to funders. In fact, that has been a lot of our conversations, how to get funds so that the business gets money.  I'd say it's my responsibility to make certain to utilize i-open and make certain things are taken to the next step (i.e. small businesses are funded).

I don't blame i-open for getting available funds. They should.  Yet, now that  they have people will look at them more closely and see what funds they manage to get for the  initiatives they  are supporting.  There comes a certain responsibility once you have gotten money to show results.  I've gotten money before from businesses and I have to make certain to always do things to keep my funders and sponsors happy by showcasing their businesses.

Yes, this is a great thing and now puts i-open in the spotlight and people will be looking to see if they can get funds for the initiatives they are helping. While advice is good, at a certain point, a business needs cash as well.  The biggest resource any business has is people. And people have to live (pay the rent, buy food, gas, etc.). So if your business has no cash, then you won't have people and without people, your business, whatever it is, won't survive.

The next step is i-open helping to get funds for initiatives. Our success is their success. Too many times, we hear of a place that is set up to help businesses, but end up getting more money than the businesses they help.  Like anything i-open has now to show it is not the same. I believe in them.  What they do next shows how well they live up to their mission. 

Still small businesses have a responsibility as well to utilize organizations like i-open.


Alex P. Michaels

    A Branded Entertainment Company

thank god NEO saw the light

This is great news. I too was energized by the REI events at Case and continued to I-Open where I connected with Martha, Jeff, Norm, Ed, Sudhir, Phillip et al.

I know what you mean about being tired Tim. I was in the arts for about a quater century here, and I had to fall back and regroup. I went underground and basically allowed myself some rest time. It was good. I am refreshed and ready to fight another day.

This is great news when you consider how often Cleveland power brokers (especially the foundation community) has decided that the ideas are elsewhere -- that if someone in Cleveland has a good product or methodology it can't be good enough. I would say to them, "Look at Ed's résumé and tell me we don't need his expertise here? You'd be a fool to forego that knowledge never mind that innovative thinking." Thank god they're not fools.

It is exhausting. We need R&R from time to time. It is good to know that others are there when we need to rest. Rest is OK. It is good to be connected with a group of like minded individuals who will help to revitalize our region, our nation and the world. Thank you all for all the good work you do.

Here is one more thing to think about -- the power of networks when they combine. Think of I-Open, RealNeo, Green City Blue Lake, CAAO and others and all the brain power and nonprofits and righteous individuals those networks represent. If we come together and don't get mired in competition, we will be a formidable opponent to the status quo.

Remember Margaret Mead's famous quote:

Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed citizens to change the world. Indeed, it has never been done otherwise.

We are World's most powerful learning environment

Of course you are right about the power of our networks and you know that's what we've been enabling since 2004, with folks like you and George Nemeth, realneo member #60, Plil Lane, #59, Jeff Buster, #53, Ed Morrison, #27, Kevin Cronin, #19, Sandy Kirstin Pederit, #16, Joe LaMantia, #12... the early pioneers of social computing in NEO.

We are now fortunate to have on our team Charles Burkett and Phillip Williams to help lead NEO through the transition to a higher level of technologies and applications that open up new frontiers - you can help by keeping those outside the REALNEO community aware of what's developing on the inside, and how to join!

Funny thing, we've built the world's most powerful learning environment, just lke Hundert promised - it just has very little to do with Case. That will change!

maybe we need a song here for Tim et al

remember this one anyone?


Graham Nash

So your brother's bound and gagged
And they chained him to a chair,
Won't you please come to Chicago
Just to sing.
In a land that's known as freedom,
How can such a thing be fair?
Won't you please come to Chicago
For the help that we can bring.

We can change the World.
Rearrange the World.
It's dying
to get better.

Politicians sit yourselves down,
There's nothing for you here.
Won't you please come to Chicago
For a ride.
Don't ask Jack to help you
Cause he'll turn the other ear.
Won't you please come to Chicago
Or else join the other side.

We can change / yes we can change the World.
Rearrange / rearrange the World.
It's dying / do you believe in justice?
It's dying / and if you believe in freedom.
It's dying / Let a man live his own life.
It's dying / Rules and regulations who needs them?
Open up the door.

Somehow people must be free,
I hope the day comes soon.
Won't you please come to Chicago,
To show you face.
From the bottom of the ocean
To the mountains of the Moon.
Won't you please come to Chicago
No one else can take your place.

We can change / yes we can change the World.
Rearrange / rearrange the World.
It's dying / If you believe in justice.
It's dying / and if you believe in freedom.
It's dying / Let a man live his own life.
It's dying / Rules and regulations, who needs them?
Open up the door.

Look to the web for inspiration, too...