Record Number of Tourists Visit Cleveland, Up 30 percent since 2007

cleveland-ohioThe number of tourists visiting Cleveland and Cuyahoga County has been steadily increasing since 2007, according to the 2015 Convention & Leisure Metric Report recently released by Destination Cleveland. The report showed tourism in Cleveland grew 3.7 percent after welcoming a record number of 17.6 million business and leisure travelers to the Northeast Ohio region. In fact, the rate of tourist growth in Cleveland has outpaced the U.S. since 2011, according to a study published by Tourism Economics.

In 2007, there were 13.7 million tourists who visited Cleveland and Cuyahoga County. And within eight years this number jumped to 17.6 million; an increase of almost 30 percent. Cleveland has been registering a consistent rise in tourism for the past several years, giving a much needed boost to the local economy. The increased tourism resulted in an $8.1 billion economic impact supporting 65,900 local jobs and $1 billion in sales tax revenue.

The big increase in Cleveland tourism has also been a boon for the hotel industry with over 5 million hotel rooms sold in 2015, representing an increase of 5.2 percent from the previous year. It was the largest increase ever recorded in the past five years. Additionally, the number of hotel rooms sold in Cleveland outpaced the number of rooms sold nationally by 0.7%. “Growth in nearly every metric we report shows that more people are motivated each year to visit and discover more about Cleveland for themselves,” said David Gilbert, president and CEO, Destination Cleveland. “Research shows that continued short-term gains in travel and tourism are the foundation for broader economic success as many of those who move to a new city often had a favorable visitor experience first.”

So, why are so many tourists visiting Cleveland? “There are a lot of exciting attractions throughout the Cleveland Metropolitan area including The Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, Cedar Point Amusement Park, A Christmas Story House, Cleveland Aquarium, and Cleveland Botanical Garden, among others that are attracting visitors,” said Victor Bierman, Ohio lawyer and business expert. Also, many business travelers come back with their family to explore the region. In addition, the city has beautiful waterfront parks, a lively shopping and entertainment district, a world-class convention center and top-rated hotels that attract business and leisure travelers from around the globe.

Image Credit: Tim

Cleveland Sees a Bright Future in Solar as Jobs Double

solar power home

With the solar industry on the rise across the country and in Ohio, Cleveland sees a bright future as jobs double. The Solar Foundation, an independent non-profit organization, recently released employment data indicating a number of states have greatly benefited from solar jobs. And Ohio is taking the lead. A recent report states that 5,831 people were employed in the Ohio solar industry in 2016. “Definitely Ohio is the heavyweight among its neighboring states,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director of The Solar Foundation. The number of solar jobs in Cleveland doubled in 2016 to 1,632 workers representing nearly 30 percent of the state’s total solar workforce.

According to Luecke, solar energy adds tens of billions of dollars to the U.S. economy annually. Experts are encouraging solar states like Ohio to continue investing in the solar industry. In 2016, the U.S. solar industry employed more than 250,000 workers generating a $62.5B economic impact and creating nearly 789,000 jobs nationwide. In other words, every solar job creates two additional indirect jobs that support the industry.

“After years of economic decline from the loss of manufacturing and other industrial facilities, Cleveland has spent much of its resources on economic revitalization diversifying its industry portfolio without relying too heavily on any one sector for job growth,” noted Victor J. Bierman III, Ohio lawyer and business expert. Capitalizing on solar makes economic sense for Cleveland. Sustainability and clean energy is big here, and in Ohio as a whole, and Clevelanders have embraced solar as the next big thing in green energy. In fact, Mike Foley, head of the Department of Sustainability in Cuyahoga County, has even gone so far as predicting “in 10 years a rooftop that doesn’t have solar will look funny and will look out of place, ” in a Midwest Energy News article.

In cooperation with OH SUN, the Cuyahoga County Solar Co-Op is helping to educate local residents throughout the Cleveland Metropolitan area about solar energy and adding solar panels to their rooftops. With the increase of high paying solar jobs ($26/hr. avg.) combined with the recent economic growth, the sun is rising again in Cleveland.

Image Credit: Andrew Fogg

Ohio Aims to Shore up Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

Lake Erie

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Project (GLRI) is the largest Federal investment in the basin for the past 20 years. GLRI is a federal program that was enacted to support efforts of restoring and protecting the Great Lakes and its ecosystems. “The GLRI meets its objectives by investing in a variety of restoration projects that clean up toxic pollutions, restore habitat and wetlands, and combat invasive species like Asian carp,” noted Victor Bierman, Ohio lawyer and business expert. Currently, there are approximately 3 million Ohioans who depend on Lake Erie for their drinking water. Rob Portman, U.S. Senator, mentioned in an op-ed that “hundreds of thousands of Ohioans depend on Lake Erie for jobs.”

In addition, the bordering U.S. states and Canadian provinces formed a compact agreement in 2008, known as the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The compact outlines the shared roles and responsibilities of the parties. The compact also required states and provinces to enact legislation to protect the basin.

Therefore, Lake Erie is vital to the state of Ohio and so is the GLRI whose main objective is to restore the Great Lakes basin including Lake Erie. Ohio has released grants as well as taken part in a number of projects and initiatives to help shore up the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. In 2016, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown announced a $175,000 grant from GLRI to install bioretention cells at Wildwood Park in Cleveland for preventing untreated storm water runoff from finding its way into Lake Erie.

“ A great deal of progress has been made in recent years to improve the lake’s condition and bold reforms Ohio has championed under the leadership of Governor Kasich have contributed to that progress. Ohio has spent more than $2.5 billion in the Lake Erie watershed since 2011,” mentioned Emmalee Kalmbach, Press Secretary for Governor John Kasich in a statement to Great Lakes Now.

Also, the U.S. government has provided more than $1.7B in Federal funding through the GLRI for 3,455 projects. The EPA alone was responsible for nearly half the funding of nearly 1,000 projects. And with the EPA’s roles, budget and responsibilities being redefined, some of its funding in the future will likely come from some of the other 13 Federal agencies that have been funding the GLRI and the Great Lakes states and provinces, including Ohio, that are signatories to the compact agreement.

Image Credit: Tom Whitten

Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Workers a Top Business Challenge for Cleveland Companies

downtown Cleveland

Talent is a top priority at any workplace. And in order for companies to compete in today’s very competitive global marketplace, they need to not only recruit top talent, but retain them as well. But According to polls released in 2016 by the Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP) , around two-thirds of employers interviewed agreed that recruiting and retaining qualified workers is a top business challenge here.

And retaining employees is often more challenging than recruitment. Workers are not staying in their jobs as long as they used to. The average millennial changes jobs approximately every 4.4 years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Job changes are not always related to pay. If an employee becomes bored or doesn’t feel there are career advancement opportunities, they may begin to transition elsewhere. Between networking, social media and online job boards, changing jobs is just one click away.

But the local job market is also a reflection of Cleveland’s growing pains in an economy that is on the move. For instance, Crain’s Cleveland Business notes that a new restaurant pops up in or around downtown Cleveland just about every week. There is just not enough talent to fill local demand for these positions. “It’s an employees’ market right now,” said Chris Hodgson, co-owner Driftwood Restaurant Group. “We’ve started to expand our new hire search outside the city, like Columbus.”

The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services reported that the state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged at 4.9% in December, 2016, with an increase of 10,300 jobs. The industries with the largest gains were service providers, leisure and hospitality, and educational and health services fields adding 41,000, 13,300, and 11,200 jobs, respectively.

Also, Cleveland businesses that find recruiting and retaining qualified workers difficult can rely on a number of strategies to help them turn things around. First, they can consider upgrading their employees’ skills through advanced education or job-related training. And this can be achieved through a financial assistance program. Companies can also offer a mentoring program as a way of retaining employees they have recruited. According to Lauren Rudman, president of the Cleveland Society for Human Resource Management, learning opportunities can help in recruiting and retaining employees as well. And this can be done through coaching, a cross functional project, and participation in a leadership development program, among others.

“Additionally, the State of Ohio offers a number of programs that can help Cleveland employers attract and retain qualified talent. Through its website, OhioMeansJobs, employers can search through a database of over two million resumes to find available workers with specific skill sets. There are also a number of tools and other resources available for human resource professionals,” noted Victor Bierman, Ohio lawyer and business expert.

Image Credit: Tim

Ohio Wants to Shed Rust Belt Image

Ohio factory redevelopment

With significant advances in education, health care, technology and other industries, Ohio Governor John Kasich recently announced that its time for Ohio to shed its “rust belt” image. “We are no longer the rust belt; we live in the knowledge belt,” he said.

The term “rust belt” was coined back in the late 20th century when Ohio’s economy was mostly reliant on manufacturing. When manufacturing dried up in Ohio, as it did in much of the country, the state sought a more diversified economy. And today, the state is no longer reliant on a single industry. Some of the major industries that have popped up in Ohio include automotive, which is boosted by easy access to rubber, steel, and glass. There’s also a thriving agricultural industry, which contributed $105 billion of Ohio’s total economic output of $898.7 billion in 2010, according to PolitiFact. And then we have the aerospace industry which produces a yearly economic impact of over $8 billion, according to hiVelocity.

Furthermore, Governor Kasich believes that “Knowledge Belt” is more reflective of the current economic reality in the region. Capitalizing on some of the highest ranking educational institutions in the nation that are graduating some of the best and brightest has led to the significant growth in knowledge-based industries that are now the cornerstone of Ohio’s thriving economy. Ohio is an innovative leader in health care, with Cleveland Clinic, as an example. And the state has invested heavily in technology and is on the forefront in a variety of research projects, including with autonomous vehicle research. The list goes on and on.

Also, many of the old abandoned warehouses and factories have been renovated and converted into residential units, office buildings and other uses. The old Joseph & Weiss garment factory in Cleveland will be full of life again when its renovation as a public charter school for gifted children is complete in time for the 2017-18 academic year.
“However, erasing the old image may not be an easy task. Former governor Ted Strickland and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown attempted to rebrand the state as “the Silicone Valley on alternative energy” but it didn’t stick,” mentioned Victor Bierman III, Ohio lawyer and business expert.

The good news is a number of states have been in a similar situation and successfully rebranded. Las Vegas, for example, gave the label “Sin City” a new meaning with the now infamous tag line “what happens here, stays here”. Ohio can also do the same by embracing its manufacturing legacy and building on a new future as the “knowledge belt”.

Image  Credit: ODSA

Ohio Has Most Improved Business Climate in America, says Survey

ohio groundbreaking

America’s CEOs have spoken and Ohio has the most improved business climate, according to a recent survey by Chief Executive Magazine. In its annual ranking of the top 50 states to do business, Ohio moved up ten spots and is now the 12th best state for business in the U.S. Ohio has brought in commonsense regulatory policy, which has greatly helped the state improve its business climate. “The fact that the nation’s CEOs now see Ohio as a top ten state in which to do business is solid recognition of the jobs-friendly business climate we have worked so hard to create here,” said Governor John R. Kasich.

The business-friendly reforms and common-sense fiscal management are paying off for Ohioans. This has allowed the state to develop a strong, balanced budget. And when combined with a reduction of a net $5 billion in taxes has helped bring more jobs to the state. Also, Ohio ranks 12th in the nation for gross domestic product (GDP) growth, according to the latest 2016 quarterly GDP report released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

On the jobs front, Ohio has created more than 428,000 new private-sector jobs since 2011, according to JobsOhio. The business friendly environment has allowed many companies to expand their presence in the state. In addition, many companies are making plans to invest in Ohio, with the latest being Fiat Automobiles that has announced plans to invest $1 billion in Ohio and Michigan plants. The investment is expected to create 2,000 jobs in both states, and this is good news for Ohio.

“Not long ago, the state had dismal job creation and retention numbers. The business climate was so challenging that industries and residents started to pack up and leave,” noted Victor Bierman, an Ohio Lawyer and Business Expert. This resulted in an $8 billion budget shortfall, making economic conditions even worse. But, with good governance and great vision, the state has made an incredible resurgence, and is now one of the best places in the country to start or expand a business.

Image Credit: Nestlé