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The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and the Cleveland Metroparks will have tax levies on the November ballot in Cuyahoga County. The Port Authority's board of directors voted to place a 0.13-mill renewal issue on the ballot. Voters rejected a 0.67-mill levy last year. The Plain Dealer published an op-ed by Ed FitzGerald and Frank Jackson in support of the issue, and another by Jack Boyle and Jim Trutko in opposition.

The Cleveland Metroparks commissioners voted to place a 2.7-mill levy on the ballot, a 1.8-mill renewal and a 0.9-mill increase. The Metroparks' last levy request was in 2004. Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman recently spoke about the parks at the City Club (video, audio (MP3, 51.5 MB)).

Metro Parks, Serving Summit County will also have a renewal levy on the November ballot.

Writing in The Huffington Post, Richey Piiparinen described how abandonment has harmed communities like Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood. In The Plain Dealer, he criticized Cleveland's emphasis on play and image as economic development strategies. At Cool Cleveland, he said that authenticity and distinctiveness are good ways to attract in-migration.

Ohio legislators may again extend the Ohio Enterprise Zone Program. Critics of the program say that it no longer functions as intended and that it should be redesigned.

ArtPlace America awarded $15.2 million in grants to 54 projects in the U.S., including $375,000 to support the UrbanUpcycle program in Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood. The new program uses an arts-based approach to creative placemaking, and is part of an effort to emphasize upcycling as a community reinvestment strategy. The Collinwood Rising project received an ArtPlace grant last year.

Update: updates are available at ArtPlace and at the Upcycle St. Clair blog.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald proposed investing $7 million from the County's Casino Revenue Development Fund to support three downtown Cleveland projects. He recommended supplying $4 million for planned Playhouse Square improvements, $1.5 million for the second phase of the Flats east bank project, and $1.5 million for the residential conversion of the East Ohio Building. County council approved the two latter proposals.

Building upon its earlier Dashboard of Economic Indicators, the Fund for Our Economic Future issued its What Matters to Metros report, an analysis of 115 metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2011. It's intended to "help community leaders identify factors that are associated with economic growth in mid-sized U.S. metropolitan areas in a post-recession economy," and noted that "growth is not a one-size-fits-all proposition for America's mid-sized metros." Deborah Hoover of the Burton D. Morgan Foundation said that "the data clearly indicates that it is not enough for our economic strategies to focus merely on job creation."

The Cuyahoga Valley National Park received 2,299,722 visits in 2012, keeping it among the nation's most-visited national parks. A National Park Service report said that visitors in 2011 spent $51,473,000 in communities surrounding the park and supported 728 jobs.

Two new reports highlight the importance of the Clean Ohio program. An economic analysis conducted by the Trust for Public Land found that that the program returned $4 for every $1 invested in its land conservation portion. A second report by Greater Ohio said that the program's brownfield revitalization portion has "generated substantial direct and indirect economic impacts."

In the question-and-answer portion of his State of the City address, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson responded to a query about immigration by saying, "I believe in taking care of your own." He attracted criticism for Dan Moulthrop and others for his apparent anti-immigrant stance, but Mayor Jackson later issued a statement in which he said that "a Cleveland that 'takes care of its own' will ultimately attract people from all across the globe". At Cool Cleveland, Richey Piiparinen related his first-hand experiences about the power of immigration.

Soon after, members of the local business community expressed support for immigration policy reform at a Greater Cleveland Partnership forum. Some of the panelists discussed the issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "increased legal immigration may be the best way" to increase the region's economic and political clout, and an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said "it was heartening to see the gathering in Cleveland".

Local entrepreneurs continue to invest in Cleveland's Collinwood neighborhood and its Waterloo district. They plan to make the area a destination by opening several businesses in quick succession later this year.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald gave his third State of the County address on February 19. In addition to highlighting his achievements, he announced that the Medical Mart in Cleveland is now named the Global Center for Health Innovation. He also called on leaders to consider staging a second Great Lakes Exposition in 2016. The speech is online as video, audio (MP3, 53.7 MB), and text (PDF). His slideshow (PPT, 15.3 MB) is also available.

Changes to the Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund require projects to have an end user in order to receive funding. Local officials worry that it could make brownfield remediation more difficult.

via DevelopOhio

As of late January, all of Cuyahoga County's 59 cities, villages, and townships have adopted the County's anti-poaching pledge. Middleburg Heights was the final community to sign the agreement. The Greater Cleveland Partnership applauded the announcement, and an earlier Sun News editorial said that "Cuyahoga County needs its communities to work together".

In a 4-2 decision, the Ohio Supreme Court declined to hear a state effort to clarify the legal status of JobsOhio. The ruling was a setback to the Kasich administration, which had hoped the ruling would speed its access to $100 million in liquor profits. A Plain Dealer editorial said that this is a "bad time for JobsOhio to be stuck in legal limbo", while an Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that "the justices have made a valid show of restraint."

Meanwhile, JobsOhio President Mark Kvamme announced (PDF) that he would leave the nonprofit development corporation on November 1. The organization's board selected John Minor as his successor. An editorial in Toledo's Blade said that "only time can tell whether Mr. Kvamme's legacy is written in stone or quicksand."

The Clean Ohio Council is considering changes to its brownfield funding policies. They are designed to create (PDF) a "streamlined process for funding brownfield projects." Joe Koncelik summarized the proposed changes (PDF) and called them "a seismic shift in how funding decisions will be made." Public comments will be accepted until October 17.

Update: Crain's Cleveland Business has more information.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald marked the one-year anniversary of the County's anti-poaching pledge by reporting that 45 of the County's 59 communities have signed on. Recent adopters include Bay Village, Beachwood, North Royalton, Rocky River, and Strongsville. Mayfield Heights rejected the agreement.

Leaders in North Olmsted are considering legislation that would establish a tax increment financing district for the area around Great Northern Mall. Under the proposal, tax revenue generated by new projects in the district would be used for infrastructure improvements in and around the district.

Update: it would be the first TIF district in North Olmsted.

Cuyahoga County's Jack Schron and Larry Benders discussed the County's role in economic development at a recent City Club forum. Audio (MP3, 54.1 MB) and video of the talk are available.

A libertarian group joined a liberal organization in filing an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court on the constitutionality of the JobsOhio program and who has legal standing to issue a challenge. Two lower courts said that the groups lacked legal standing.

Because of the legal challenges, Ohio Department of Commerce Director David Goodman has declined to sign an agreement transferring state liquor revenues to JobsOhio. The Kasich administration responded by asking the Ohio Supreme Court to rule on the program's constitutionality. An Akron Beacon Journal concluded that this "presents an opening for the high court, finally, to get the matter settled." Joe Koncelik considered its implications for brownfield redevelopment funding.

The Cleveland Foundation announced $19.9 million in grants for a variety of programs, including funding for economic development activities, $150,000 for the intergenerational housing project in Fairfax, and $400,000 for a partnership that will work to leverage Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District investments to make neighborhood improvements. The Storm Water Management Partnership includes LAND Studio, Neighborhood Progress Inc., and the Kent State Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative.

Members of a recent panel discussion at the City Club talked about the Global Cleveland initiative and talent attraction efforts (MP3, 51.6 MB).

Update: video of the talk is now available.

ArtPlace, a national partnership to support the arts, awarded $15.4 million in grants to 47 projects across the country. Among the awards was a $500,000 grant to support the Collinwood Rising initiative in Cleveland. Northeast Shores Development Corporation will "work with artists to establish replicable development models for artist space in older industrial cities." Meanwhile, businessman Alan Glazen said he intends to simultaneously launch five restaurants in the neighborhood.

The Franklin County Court of Appeals rejected a constitutional challenge to Governor Kasich's new JobsOhio agency, upholding a ruling that said the plaintiffs did not have legal standing to file the lawsuit. The Plain Dealer's Thomas Suddes said that "the ruling amounts to hair-splitting of a very high order." JobsOhio President Mark Kvamme said that the transfer of state liquor profits to the new agency should be completed by the end of the year.

Team NEO and CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs announced a new strategic alliance intended to "enhance the region's economic development research capabilities and knowledge." Daila Shimek will work with both organizations. Team NEO recently reported that it helped persuade 26 companies to expand locally in the first quarter of this year.

With the opening of the Horseshoe Casino Cleveland, local leaders hope it will generate new jobs and new tax revenues. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "if all goes as planned, the casino will give downtown a jolt of jobs, energy and excitement," while WCPN's Around Noon examined the casino from historical and urban planning perspectives. Owner Dan Gilbert said that the casino's planned second phase behind Tower City Center "is definitely happening."

Meanwhile, Cuyahoga County leaders discussed priorities for the County's share of the tax revenues at a recent work session. County Executive FitzGerald has proposed using the funds to support downtown Cleveland development, while some members of County Council would prefer to spread the investments over a broader area. A Plain Dealer editorial supported the County Executive's approach.

The Civic Commons Radio Show explored the complexities of development financing in today's market, using the Flats East Bank and Uptown projects in Cleveland as examples. Developer Ari Maron also spoke about development financing at the recent Neighborhood Solutions Summit.

With the JobsOhio development agency in place, state legislators and the Kasich administration introduced legislation that would restructure the Ohio Department of Development. The department would have reduced responsibilities and would be renamed the Development Services Agency.

At a recent Cleveland Museum of Art panel discussion, leaders from East Cleveland and Fairfax talked about ways that growth in University Circle is improving their communities.

Bainbridge Township and the City of Aurora have resumed talks about a proposed JEDD for the Marketplace shopping center. For the first several years, 80% of the proceeds would go to the developer. Talks about the proposal were revived last year.

Update: the Aurora Advocate has more information.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced that eight more suburbs, including Brecksville and Lyndhurst, have signed the County's anti-poaching pledge, bringing the total to 28 communities.

PNC unveiled plans for a new community resource center in Cleveland's Fairfax neighborhood. The 6,400-square-foot PNC Fairfax Connection is intended to offer a variety of community resources at the corner of Carnegie Avenue and East 83rd Street.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more details.

A report (PDF) from the National Park Service says that in 2010, the 2.5 million visitors to the Cuyahoga Valley National Park spent $54.7 million in and around the park, supporting 829 jobs.

Under JobsOhio, the Clean Ohio Brownfield Revitalization Fund may shift from providing grants to offering loans. Economic development professionals fear it would make the program less effective.

Local leaders and citizens celebrated the grand opening of the Global Cleveland Welcome Center last week. Located in 200 Public Square, it's intended to serve as a first stop for all newcomers to the region. Staff at the hub will provide advice, connections to communities, and resources for entrepreneurs. Ken Kovach shared some background information.

In his second State of the County address, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald highlighted his accomplishments and introduced the Western Reserve Plan. He presented its 12 principles and his long range vision to an audience of more than 850 people. A Plain Dealer editorial said that County Executive FitzGerald deserves "credit for setting big goals when he has the political capital to pursue them." Audio (MP3, 53.0 MB) and a transcript (PDF) of the address are available.

Update: some suburban leaders expressed interest in sharing services.

Update 2: an Akron Beacon Journal editorial supports County Executive FitzGerald's approach. Video of the address is now online.

At its January 24 meeting, Cuyahoga County Council approved the establishment of a $100 million economic development fund. Creating the fund was one of County Executive FitzGerald's campaign promises. The County will use $5 million from the fund as loan guarantees, which will leverage an additional $100 million in small-business loans from seven area banks.

For the next 25 years, profits from Ohio's liquor operations will support the new JobsOhio development agency. JobsOhio will pay $1.4 billion for the rights. The state will use $150 million of the purchase price to fund the Clean Ohio program for three years.

Update: the Columbus Dispatch says that JobsOhio's "emphasis on loans could signal an expansion of Ohio's development toolbox." An Akron Beacon Journal editorial takes a wait and see approach, and Joe Koncelik has questions about the Clean Ohio plans.

Fresh Water described the nonprofit organizations that collaborate to promote economic development in Northeast Ohio.

Collinwood's Northeast Shores Development Corp and the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture are rolling out the Artists in Residence program. Its first project is the Cleveland Arsenal (PDF), a civic advocacy effort.

Update: the organizations published guidelines for the Artists in Residence program (PDF).

The Fund for Our Economic Future issued its sixth annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators. It "measures the region's economic performance in the context of a slow-growth, fragile, post-recession economy."

Bruce Katz and Strobe Talbott of the Brookings Institution spoke about energy policy at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History on Friday. They said that Northeast Ohio's advanced energy sector is a national model.

A new paper from PolicyBridge (PDF) draws connections between the social determinants of health in Greater Cleveland and the area's economic competitiveness. It identifies relevant policy areas and makes recommendations for increasing local health and wealth, and says that "recognizing the importance of personal physical and mental well-being to the overall region's economic well-being would be a critical first step toward a more vibrant Northeast Ohio."

The City of Cleveland may terminate several tax abatements for properties that failed to meet economic development goals, including the Stager-Beckwith Mansion on Euclid Avenue. Meanwhile, Cleveland City Council is considering two pieces of legislation that would expand the City's ability to recoup expenses and fines incurred by negligent property owners.

Update: the Plain Dealer provides more information about the proposed legislation.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald promoted his anti-poaching protocol in a Plain Dealer op-ed, calling the agreement "an eminently reasonable step toward fostering cooperation in the interest of economic development."

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority President William Friedman spoke at the City Club (MP3, 52.1 MB) about the Port's plans and accomplishments. The Port Authority has also identified a preferred provider for the planned Lake Erie ferry.

Update: Bill Callahan posted more information about the ferry plans.

Beachwood's economic development consultant team presented its Economic Development Action Plan (PDF) to City Council on October 10. The plan offers seven fundamentals for an economic development program and sets of recommendations in eight areas. One of the suggestions encourages the City to adopt a regional approach to economic development.

Fresh Water describes recent investments in Cleveland's Health-Tech Corridor and Midtown Tech Park.

The conversation on this morning's Sound of Ideas program was about how local universities are encouraging nearby mixed-use development.

Update: Cleveland Magazine explored the changes to the Cleveland State University campus.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald announced his revised Business Attraction and Anti-Poaching Protocol. It's intended to reduce incentives for business relocations that that do not add to the region's economic output. The proposed agreement is less ambitious than the initial concept.

Update: the Plain Dealer provided more details, and in an editorial, said that the agreement "embodies two principles critical to the future of this area."

Update 2: reactions from suburban leaders have been mixed.

Update 3: Mayor DePiero of Parma signed and Pepper Pike City Council approved the agreement.

As anticipated, Team NEO was selected to coordinate economic development activities for the JobsOhio program in 18 Northeast Ohio counties. Team NEO will expand its staff to manage the additional work, and added 13 new trustees, doubling the size of its board. The Ohio Third Frontier Commission gave $4.1 million to Team NEO for 2012. Mark Kvamme, JobsOhio's chief investment officer, visited Independence to explain the changes to local officials. Channel 3's Tom Beres interviewed Mark Kvamme.

Larry Miller, Lubrizol's vice president for human resources, will be the first president of Global Cleveland. He is one of several top executives leaving the company following its acquisition by Berkshire Hathaway, and will start his new job in October.

The Kasich administration described its plans for the JobsOhio program in a report to the General Assembly. The proposed restructuring would eliminate 211 jobs at the Ohio Department of Development, which would be renamed as the Development Services Agency. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that "the speed and freedom of JobsOhio must be balanced by transparency and accountability." Meanwhile, the Ohio Supreme Court dismissed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of JobsOhio, saying it was outside the court's jurisdiction.

Update: the report to the General Assembly (PDF) is available online.

Participants on Monday's Sound of Ideas program discussed Northeast Ohio invasive plant issues. The guest on Tuesday's program was Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority President William Friedman.

In their preliminary recommendations, economic development consultants for the City of Beachwood said that leaders should create a predictable incentives policy.

On Tuesday, panelists at the City Club (MP3, 53.1 MB) discussed how the West Site Market is stimulating development in the surrounding Market District in Ohio City, and talked about ways to contend with the pressures brought by its popularity.

Update: WKSU provided more details.

Update 2: the City Club posted video of the discussion.

Team NEO submitted a proposal to be one of six regional economic development offices under the JobsOhio program. If accepted, Team NEO would coordinate job attraction and retention efforts over an 18-county Northeast Ohio area. Meanwhile, opponents of JobsOhio asked the Ohio Supreme Court to block funding for the organization until their lawsuit challenging its constitutionality is concluded.

Update: the Cincinnati Enquirer reported on the program.

The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture selected North Collinwood for its Artists in Residence initiative. The $500,000 pilot program will provide grants and loans over the next two years, focusing on the relationship between artists and the Waterloo neighborhood.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information.

Governor Kasich appointed (PDF) eight executives to the board of directors of the new JobsOhio development corporation. One seat remains unfilled. Mark Kvamme will serve as its interim chief investment officer. The board met for the first time on Monday.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that "JobsOhio's transparency is as important to its success as its development programs. "

A new report from the Brookings Institution "assesses public policies and economic development strategies in eight U.S. metropolitan areas that had a significant specialization in manufacturing in 1980 and lost manufacturing jobs between 1980 and 2005," including the Cleveland area. Cleveland's evolving economy is also one of nine case studies in The Next American Economy, a new book by William J. Holstien.

The Cleveland Foundation announced $18 million in grants, including $3 million to economic development organizations.

On Thursday morning, County Executive FitzGerald met with representatives of about 20 Cuyahoga County communities to present a draft of a new anti-poaching protocol (PDF). Under the agreement, communities would not actively recruit businesses located in another Cuyahoga County community. He hopes to finalize the agreement by the end of September. Communities that sign on would be given an advantage when seeking support from the County's planned $100 million economic development fund.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that cities should sign the pact.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded $25.6 million in the second round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credits, including $2 million to the Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund II. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources awarded $300,033 in Coastal Management Assistance Grants, including $13,545 for Rocky River sub-watershed protection and restoration plans and $21,000 for the Tinkers Creek Watershed Community Engagement Project.

On Wednesday, the Cuyahoga County Economic Development Commission approved an initial five-year economic development plan. County Council's Economic Development and Planning Committee will review and discuss the plan on June 6.

Update: the Plain Dealer provided more information about the draft plan and posted the document (PDF).

Update 2: the plan is available from the Cuyahoga County Department of Development.

The Global Cleveland initiative officially commenced with a launch party on Tuesday evening and a day-long summit on Wednesday. The initiative will employ a four-part strategy targeted at strengthening Northeast Ohio by attracting and retaining newcomers. A Plain Dealer editorial supports its goals. The Civic Commons spoke with the initiative's leaders and with summit attendees for its weekly radio show and is hosting continuing discussions.

The City of Beachwood is reshaping its economic development efforts. City Council approved the hiring of a consultant team led by SZD Whiteboard to review its programs and hired Brad Sellers as an in-house adviser.

The Foundation Center reports that grants for economic development activities in Ohio grew by 152% between 2005 and 2008. The largest contributions over that period were made by the Knight Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation.

The Cleveland Coalition published a report on the planned Cleveland casino. It builds upon two events held last year, and includes a variety of suggestions for integrating the casino into the city.

Dan Moulthrop and Luke Frazier of the Civic Commons spoke with Cuyahoga County Deputy Chief of Staff Nathan Kelly about the County's recently-announced $100 million economic development fund. The Foundation Center's Cynthia Bailie talked to Christine Amer Mayer of Akron's GAR Foundation about the foundation's involvement in economic development. With the State of Ohio poised to spend $1.4 billion on economic development this year, USA Today compared Ohio's approach with those of other states.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Eric Wobser of Ohio City Incorporated describes the emerging artisan economy in Cleveland.

Update: Fresh Water looked at its growth along Lorain Avenue.

The Center for Public Management at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs prepared a study (PDFs: executive summary, complete report) on the feasibility of developing an aerotropolis around Cleveland Hopkins International Airport. It says that the area "has potential as an aerotropolis, but its particular challenges require the development of a strategy that fits the Cleveland area's unique strengths and needs."

In a new paper, Mark Muro of the Brookings Institution used Greater Cleveland as one of three examples of metropolitan areas that are "engaged in practical, smart, and self-starting efforts to grow the economy that are all about pragmatic, bottom-up problem solving at a time when the ills of top-down, business-as-usual economic affairs have become increasingly apparent." Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future presented Northeast Ohio's strategy today at a Brookings Institution event in Washington, D.C.

The City of University Heights will establish a blue-ribbon economic development committee. Mayor Infeld will appoint its members by June 15. The City of Shaker Heights hopes to create a high-end office corridor along Warrensville Road, and hired Allegro Realty Advisors to develop economic development strategies.

In the first State of the County Address, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald laid out plans to create a $100 million economic development fund, facilitate municipal collaborations, and support education and community safety programs. He said that his agenda represents "a sweeping and ambitious plan for the recovery of Cuyahoga County."

Update: the text and presentation from County Executive FitzGerald's speech are now online. The City Club posted audio (MP3, 52.1 MB) and video of the event.

This May, Global Cleveland plans to open the Cleveland International Welcome Center in a Euclid Avenue storefront of 200 Public Square, the former BP Building. It will serve as an information and resource center for immigrants and as the headquarters for recruitment efforts. The organization has raised more than $1 million to support the initiative, including $500,000 from Huntington Bank.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution was the keynote speaker at last week's annual meeting of the Greater Cleveland Partnership. He delivered a message (PDF, 13.3 MB) about a vision for the next American economy, and described how it will be based on metropolitan areas and driven by exports.

Through its new two-year Artists in Residents Initiative, the Community Partnership for Arts and Culture will invest $500,000 in one Cleveland neighborhood. It will provide small grants and loans to artists to purchase or renovate homes and to support community based-projects. The selected neighborhood will be announced in July. The program is supported by a $250,000 grant from Leveraging Investments in Creativity of New York.

Governor Kasich shifted Mark Kvamme from the Ohio Department of Development into a newly-created role as director of job creation. Jim Leftwich, formerly head of the Dayton Development Coalition, will replace him as director of the Ohio Department of Development. Kvamme is a California resident, and his eligibility to hold a position in the Governor's cabinet was facing a legal challenge.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald selected Larry Benders to lead the Cuyahoga County Department of Development. He will begin work in April and will succeed Dorothy Baunach, who has been serving as the department's interim director.

Update: the Plain Dealer has more information.

The Charter One Foundation and the Ohio City Near West Development Corporation awarded around $40,000 to seven small businesses in the Cleveland neighborhood. The grants, awarded through a competitive process, are part of the Market District initiative.

Two Northeast Ohio funds received a total of $53 million in federal New Markets Tax Credit allocations, part of the $3.5 billion awarded nationwide. The Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund received $35 million in tax credits and the Northeast Ohio Development Fund received $18 million.

The City of Beachwood eliminated its economic department, and Economic Development Director Vince Adamus resigned. Municipal leaders are evaluating their options. Late last year, the City decided to close the Beachwood Business Development Center, which reopened as the Cleveland Heights Development Center earlier this month.

Leaders of local governments, businesses, and nonprofits will serve on the board of Global Cleveland, an initiative scheduled to launch in May. The group seeks to make Cleveland more welcoming to immigrants and to assist immigrants after they arrive. They hope to attract 200,000 immigrants and minorities over the next 20 years.

Update: a Global Cleveland video describes the initiative, and a Plain Dealer editorial backs the effort.

After making several changes to the House version of the bill, the Ohio Senate overwhelmingly approved legislation that will privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create the JobOhio development corporation. Governor Kasich is expected to sign the bill on Friday (PDF).

Update: Governor Kasich signed the bill on Friday. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the "Senate amendments were steps in the right direction," but called for more transparency and accountability.

By a vote of 59-37, the Ohio House of Representatives passed legislation that would replace the Ohio Department of Development with Governor Kasich's proposed JobsOhio development corporation. The bill now moves to the Ohio Senate.

Update: editorials in the Plain Dealer and Akron Beacon Journal urge the Senate to improve the legislation.

Update 2: columnist Thomas Suddes questioned the proposal's constitutionality.

In an op-ed in Toledo's Blade, Jennifer Bradley of the Brookings Institution said that "Ohio must recognize the power of its economic engines: the metropolitan areas that house most of its people and generate an even greater portion of its gross domestic product."

(via Economic News from Ohio's Regions)

The Cuyahoga County Economic Development Commission held its inaugural meeting on Tuesday. At the meeting, County Executive FitzGerald announced more than $1 million in loans for three development projects.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial offers the Commission some advice.

The newly-established Cuyahoga County Economic Development Commission will meet for the first time on January 25. Seven of its nine seats have been filled. At the state level, Governor Kasich revealed more details about his plans to privatize the Ohio Department of Development and create the JobsOhio development corporation.

Update: an Akron Beacon Journal says that Governor Kasich should be alert to the hazards of privatization. The Cincinnati Enquirer interviewed Mark Kvamme, director of the Ohio Department of Development.

Update 2: legislation introduced in the Ohio House to create JobsOhio would allow the development corporation to operate in private. An amendment would give the Ohio inspector general the ability to investigate the corporation.

California venture capitalist Mark Kvamme will lead the Ohio Department of Development for John Kasich. The Governor-elect intends to dismantle the department, replacing it with the privatized JobsOhio development corporation. Kasich said he hopes it will be a "four- or five-month job".

Update: the Columbus Dispatch published more details. The Greater Cleveland Partnership supports the privatization of the department, while the Akron Beacon Journal is more cautious.

Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald appointed Dorothy Baunach as the County's interim Director of Development. She succeeds Paul Oyaski, who did not continue through the county government transition. Baunach led NorTech from 1999 to 2009, and is now its president emeritus.

Fairview Park residents may vote in May on a proposed rezoning of the Garnett School site on Lorain Road. The City is acquiring the 4.77-acre property from the School District, and an unidentified developer wants to build a skilled nursing and assisted living facility on the property.

Writing about the recent Brookings Institution report and summit, columnist Neal Peirce described Greater Cleveland as one of several metropolitan areas that have "devised ingenious recovery strategies."

"Immigration: Path to Prosperity or Calamity?" (PDF) is the newest report from PolicyBridge. Among other immigration policy recommendations, it says that "Encouraging population growth in Ohio - and Cuyahoga County, specifically - through immigration must be an imperative to offset the outflow of residents to other parts of the country. Regardless of ethnic background, the emphasis must be on attracting new residents to the state and region."

Update: a Plain Dealer article looked at the local African-American community's evolving opinions about immigration.

At its final meeting of the year (PDF), the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority agreed to accept a loan for a proposed rail project, approved three financing agreements, and discussed the future of the port. Board member John Carney will vacate his seat when his term expires at the end of the year.

Smart Growth America looked at Ohio's brownfield redevelopment initiatives and their potential to spur economic development. The Ohio EPA declared (PDF) that the City of Cleveland has finished cleanup of a 0.75-acre brownfield site at Euclid Avenue and East 55th Street.

As the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority begins its strategic planning process, a consultant prepared an economic impact study. It says that the port directly or indirectly contributes to more than 10,000 jobs and $1.4 billion in economic activity (PDF).

A Plain Dealer editorial said that the idea of international "container service between Montreal and Cleveland merits further study."

The Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan was unveiled on Saturday at the Northeast Ohio Local Food Mini-Congress. It includes an analysis of the current state of the local food system and proposes that within 10 years, local production could supply 25% of Northeast Ohio's food needs. The document then offers more than 50 recommendations for meeting that goal. Michael Shuman, one of the plan's authors, will present its findings at the City Club on Tuesday.

Update: GreenCityBlueLake and Crain's Cleveland Business provided more information about the plan, and the City Club posted audio of Michael Shuman's talk (MP3, 52.2 MB).

American Public Media's Marketplace reported on bus rapid transit, using Cleveland's HealthLine as an example. NPR's Talk of the Nation visited Cleveland for a program, and discussed the creative reuse of abandoned properties, among other topics.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is expected to accept a $3 million state loan to improve rail access to the Port of Cleveland. The loan could become a grant if the Port Authority meets several conditions.

Update: the loan could be approved in December.

Living Cities announced that it will provide at least $80 million to five cities, including Cleveland, through its new Integration Initiative. Over the next three years, Living Cities will invest $14.75 million in Cleveland, with much of it supporting new worker-owned cooperatives and initiatives in the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. Cleveland was named a finalist in April.

Update: guests on The Takeaway talked about the awards.

Update 2: a Plain Dealer editorial praised the initiative.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority hopes to make Cleveland the first Great Lakes city with regular international container service. Port Authority officials are negotiating with a Canadian company to provide weekly container shipping between Cleveland and Montreal. One of its ships visited Cleveland on Friday for a demonstration (PDF).

In the first round of the Ohio New Markets Tax Credit program, the Ohio Department of Development made $10 million in credits available to four Ohio entities. About half of the credits were awarded to two Cuyahoga County recipients, one affiliated with KeyBank and the other associated with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The credits may be used to support the Allen Theatre renovations and the Evergreen Cooperatives, among other initiatives.

Following the national vacant properties conference held in Cleveland last week, the Detroit Free Press looked to Cleveland for innovative examples of urban revitalization, and MSN Real Estate described Cleveland as a city creatively working to reinvent itself. On Friday, the Center for Community Progress released Restoring Properties, Rebuilding Communities, a new report that encourages those interested in vacant properties to "build a truly effective agenda to turn vacant, abandoned, and problem properties into productive places in our communities, based not on one-off deal-oriented transactions, but on true systemic reform."

Erick Trickey interviewed new Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority CEO William Friedman for the September/October issue of Inside Business.

The Plain Dealer's Brent Larkin described how the Cleveland Foundation is funding the Northeast Ohio Local Food Assessment and Plan, which is intended to "create a significant economic development strategy for the region based on the production, processing, and distribution of local food."

Participants on Thursday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the future of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and shipping issues in Cleveland. The guests, including new port CEO William Friedman, also discussed dredging plans.

Cleveland's OneCommunity received a $44.8 million federal stimulus grant to expand its fiber optic network in 27 Northeast Ohio counties. The award will fund 64% of a nearly $70 million project that will add about 1,000 miles of new cable, including 111 miles in Cuyahoga County.

This week's issue of Scene looks at the growth of the urban agriculture and local foods movements in Cleveland. The Northeast Ohio Local Food System Assessment is calculating the economic impacts of shifting to local food.

A panel discussion at the City Club (MP3, 53.6 MB) yesterday explored market gardens, urban farms, and economic development. Earlier this year, the City Club hosted a discussion about local food.

The State of Ohio awarded a $3.5 million grant to the MidTown Tech Park, a 128,500-square-foot office, laboratory, and research project in the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor. Developers intend to break ground in November for the $22 million development, formerly known as the Euclid Tech Center. The project was one of 14 sites that received grants from the state's Job Ready Sites program.

Organizers of the Evergreen Cooperatives are preparing to launch their third employee-owned business. The Green City Growers Cooperative will operate a 5½-acre hydroponic greenhouse in Cleveland's Central neighborhood.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial concludes that the "commitment to go from grit to green offers a healthier future not just for neighborhoods but for the local economy."

Maingate Business Development Corporation hopes to develop an east side market at East 55th Street and Woodland Avenue in Cleveland. Maingate Market Place is a $30 million proposal that would include a farmers market, restaurants, retail, offices, and warehouse space. Maingate intends to partner with a private developer on the 10-acre project.

The first Cleveland Furniture and Millwork Fair, held last week, featured designs from Amish manufacturers, small Cleveland-area designers, and Cleveland Institute of Art students. The two-day event was organized as part of the proposed Cleveland District of Design.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is advancing the second phase of the Ohio Hub Plan. The Commission hired AECOM of Los Angeles to assess potential high-speed passenger rail routes from Cleveland to Detroit and from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, as well as upgrades to the planned 3C Corridor. Sherrod Brown and Policy Matters Ohio recently touted the 3C Corridor as an investment that will promote economic development and create jobs. Earlier this year, the Rail Development Commission released the Ohio Statewide Rail Plan.

The Jewish Federation of Cleveland hired Kauser Razvi to develop plans for the proposed Cleveland International Welcome Center in downtown Cleveland.

The inaugural Cleveland Furniture and Millwork Fair will take place on Wednesday and Thursday at the Halle Building. Organizers hope that it will lead to a permanent presence in the proposed Cleveland District of Design.

Will Friedman, the new CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, spoke about the future of the port on Sunday's Between the Lines program.

Brooklyn City Council approved the construction of Memphis Industrial Parkway at Memphis Avenue near the Linndale border. The parkway will open land for development, and construction will run from September 2010 to May 2011.

The conversation on today's Sound of Ideas program was about the plans for a Lake Erie wind farm and for encouraging the local wind turbine industry. The guests were Lorry Wagner of LEEDCo, Rebecca Bagley of NorTech, and George Sterzinger of the Renewable Energy Policy Project, who recently wrote an op-ed in which he described how the federal government could support the initiative.

The Kamm's Corners streetscape project in Cleveland has encouraged area property owners to make improvements to their buildings.

Richard Herman believes that Cleveland leaders need to view the local immigrant community as a valuable resource when pursuing foreign direct investment. Meanwhile, a group of foreign investors committed $20 million to the Flats east bank project through the Cleveland International Fund.

Update: A Plain Dealer editorial says that the investment "is good news for Greater Cleveland -- on many fronts."

Participants on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas program discussed the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor and economic development in Cleveland.

Panelists at yesterday's Creative Voices Summit discussed ways to use creativity to improve communities and encourage economic development. Richey Piiparinen recapped the event at GreenCityBlueLake.

Update: CEOs for Cities shared some observations.

Governor Strickland designated the Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor as an Ohio Hub of Innovation and Opportunity, the second in the state. The status is accompanied by a $250,000 grant and priority status for millions of dollars in grants and loans. Philips Healthcare will open a $33.4 million research center in the corridor at University Hospitals.

A new report by Becky Gaylord (PDF) for the Jewish Federation of Cleveland explores why and how Greater Cleveland should encourage immigration, and presents 31 strategies that could be used to support immigration.

A new policy brief from the Brookings Institution says that the Great Lakes region has the potential to become a hub for the advanced energy industry. It recommends that the federal government should "launch a distributed network of federally funded, commercialization-oriented, sustainable energy research and innovation centers" in the region. Meanwhile, John Austin of Brookings says that his earlier work on the Great Lakes Economic Initiative remains relevant.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls it "an idea that merits serious consideration by Congress and the Obama administration."

The Maltz Family Foundation donated $50,000 to the effort to establish an international welcome center in Cleveland. It's the first foundation support for the initiative.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial cheered the announcement.

GreenCityBlueLake reported on the recent "Rebuilding the Cities that Built America" conference in Youngstown, and the Vindicator summarized Dan Kildee's remarks.

The Lake Erie Energy Development Corporation will work with General Electric to build five wind turbines in Lake Erie, about six miles north of downtown Cleveland. The $100 million pilot project would be the first first freshwater wind farm in the U.S. and would have a generating capacity of 20 megawatts. LEEDCo plans to have the turbines, the largest in nation, generating power by the end of 2012. By 2020, they hope to have hundreds in place, generating 1,000 megawatts of power.

Outgoing Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority interim CEO Peter Raskind shared his observations about the port in a Plain Dealer op-ed. He wrote about the port's priorities, finances, and said that the "plan to move the port to East 55th Street was ill conceived and built upon layers of questionable assumptions." Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey believes that Raskind was "throwing out the old regime's troubled ideas so the new guy can start with a clean desk" and "may also be providing cover for the port board."

Cuyahoga County reached an agreement to purchase the Sportsman restaurant in Cleveland, the last property needed for the Medical Mart and convention center project. The County and MMPI also announced the selection of Turner Construction Co. as construction manager and URS Corp. as the architect of record. Preliminary renderings by LMN Architects show that views of Lake Erie will be preserved. Project Manager Jeff Appelbaum presented a progress update (PDF) to the County Commissioners.

The city councils of Solon and Twinsburg approved a memorandum of understanding that calls for cooperation on business relocations that involve incentives. Officials hope to reach similar agreements with other neighboring communities.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that incoming Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority CEO William Friedman has many challenges awaiting him.

The Cleveland-Youngstown-Pittsburgh Regional Learning Network will hold a conference in Youngstown on May 21. Titled "Rebuilding The Cities That Built America," it will feature workshops, speakers, and other events. Hunter Morrison wrote about the megapolitan area that some call the Tech Belt.

Dan Gilbert's Rock Ventures has pushed back the opening date of the planned Cleveland casino, and now predicts its completion in mid-2013. The company portrayed the land acquisition process as complex, but cordial.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the delay is understandable, while Dan Gilbert characterized the report as misleading.

The State of Ohio approved $30 million in stimulus bonds for the Medical Mart and convention center project in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County will use the bonds to reduce its borrowing costs by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The new Cleveland Health-Tech Corridor is an effort to redevelop Euclid Avenue in Cleveland by leveraging the area's strengths in the biomedical, health care, and high-tech industries.

In a letter to Governor Strickland, a top administrator with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that his office will be forced to stop dredging the Port of Cleveland and Cuyahoga River in five years unless a new confined disposal facility is built. Also available is the final report (PDF) from the dredging summit held in February. The Cleveland Dredge Task Force will hold its next meeting on May 5.

Update: Save Our Shore posted a copy of the letter.

Backers of a proposed Cleveland international welcome center are developing strategies for attracting international immigrants to the area.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland's leaders must support the concept. Participants on Channel 3's Between the Lines also discussed the subject.

On Friday, the Cleveland Coalition will hold the second event in its series on the planned Cleveland casino, a charrette at the Levin College of Urban Affairs. The event is free and open to the public, but participants should register and review an information packet.

The City of Cleveland's Vacant Property Initiative supplies funding to help property owners redevelop vacant or underutilized buildings and lots. Since 2008, the City has awarded more than $21 million in loans through the program.

In the second episode of the Metro Matters podcast, Diana Lind of Next American City interviewed Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution. Much of their conversation was about steps that Ohio and the Great Lakes region can take to succeed economically.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Dominic LoGalbo criticizes the disarray at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and encourages local leaders to reconsider the agency's roles.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership outlined its agenda for the year at its annual meeting on Thursday. The chamber's priorities include county government reform, renewal of the county health and human services levy and the state Third Frontier program, and investing in downtown Cleveland projects. Roldo Bartimole was indignant at the suggestions.

An article in this week's issue of West Life offers more information about the Aerotropolis study being conducted by Cleveland State University. The study should be completed by the end of the month.

The Plain Dealer again called for reform of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's board, this time saying that its size should be reduced by one-third.

While other Great Lakes ports received millions of dollars in federal stimulus grants, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority did not receive funding. The Port Authority applied for a TIGER grant, but was not one of the selected projects. It was the only application that the Port submitted. The Port Authority also dropped its plans to fill a slip and build a warehouse. Interim President Peter Raskind said, "The bottom line is we do not believe it's a good use of public money."

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio, the organizations which jointly released the new Restoring Prosperity agenda, wrote about positioning Ohio's economy for future growth. They said that "Ohio is in a paradoxical moment: The present is painful, but the future could be promising. And in another paradox, its manufacturing heritage is part of the reason why."

On Monday, Greater Ohio and the Brookings Institution unveiled the latest report in their Restoring Prosperity initiative. Titled "Transforming Ohio's Communities for the Next Economy", the report and executive summary (PDFs) lay out a policy agenda aimed at reinvigorating the state. It makes 39 short, medium, and long-term policy recommendations in three main areas: building on assets in Ohio's metropolitan areas, reforming state and local governments, and engaging and aligning with the federal government. One of its more discussed recommendations calls for consolidating Ohio school districts. An Akron Beacon Journal editorial said that the report "belongs at the center of this campaign year", and a Morning Journal editorial said that its "recommendations deserve careful consideration and study."

Update: the Plain Dealer was also encouraged by the report.

Attorney Richard Knoth, the vice chair of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board, wrote a memo (PDF) that calls for closing Burke Lakefront Airport and relocating the port facilities to the site. Frank Jackson said Burke will remain open and that he remains committed to the East 55th Street port relocation plan. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "Cleveland needs all options on the table".

The Plain Dealer highlighted claims that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority leadership needs more representation from maritime interests.

WKSU looked at biomimicry initiatives across Northeast Ohio. Jeff St. Clair spoke with Biomimicry Guild co-founder Janine Benyus, among others.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners approved a $15.2 million option for the purchase of the 113 St. Clair office building and Justice Center Parking Garage. Negotiations are ongoing for the purchase of the Sportsman deli, which would be the last property acquisition for the planned Medical Mart. The Commissioners also announced that they will use the County's entire $64.1 million Recovery Zone Facility Bond allocation for the project.

The Plain Dealer explored the reasons behind the Cleveland Foundation's decision to greatly reduce its contributions to the Fund for Our Economic Future and the choice's subsequent repercussions. Brent Larkin thinks that the decision was harmful to regional collaboration.

Mayor Jackson reappointed Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Chairman Steven Williams to another four-year term, but board member Rose Rodriguez-Bardwell chose not to seek reappointment. Board member Brian Hall is also stepping down (PDF).

Planners of the proposed aerotropolis around Cleveland Hopkins International Airport began receiving feedback at the first of the aerotropolis stakeholder sessions yesterday.

The Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland and Cleveland State University continue to pursue plans to create an immigrant welcome center in downtown Cleveland.

At its first meeting (PDF) of the year, the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority today set its priorities for 2010. The board also approved $34.8 million in bonds for the Flats east bank project. Board member Rose Rodriguez-Bardwell was recently fired from her position at the Spanish American Committee, and the Plain Dealer again urged Mayor Jackson to replace Rodriguez-Bardwell and Chairman Steven Williams when their terms expire on January 28.

Update: the Plain Dealer found the meeting encouraging.

Greater Cleveland residents have the opportunity to share their opinions at several meetings:

Update: Scene and the Plain Dealer have more information about FirstEnergy's request. Channel 3 reported on the Harshaw site findings. The News Sun shared details about the aerotropolis meetings.

The Compact with Ohio Cities Task Force, a 29-member group chaired by Ohio Representative Mike Foley, unveiled a report that recommends state policy changes (PDF) to foster smart growth and redevelopment. The task force's primary conclusion was that "the existing paradigm of single-jurisdictional planning is not only antiquated, but also harmful to every community in Ohio." Its list of recommendations includes restructuring tax incentive programs and allowing municipalities to jointly establish transportation innovation authorities.

The Plain Dealer asked if Cleveland still needs a port authority. It looked at the arguments for retaining the port authority and the arguments for dismantling it.

Plans for the Medical Mart in Cleveland have shifted back to the original site, away from the proposal to build at Mall C. The latest plans call for building the medical products showcase at the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street, on the site of the privately-owned Justice Center Parking Garage, Sportsman deli, and 113 St. Clair office building, as well as the county-owned Chicago Title Building and Administration Building Annex. The County will not purchase Public Auditorium from the City, but a portion of the $20 million from the convention center purchase will be used for upgrades of Public Auditorium. Steven Litt said that the Mall is at risk of becoming an afterthought, and that it should be "rebuilt according to the highest possible standards."

In addition, the County reached a construction administration agreement with developer MMPI. The agreement provides new protections for taxpayers and sets rules for construction contracting. An October groundbreaking is possible. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey summarized the recent events. In New York City, developers of the competing World Product Centre accelerated their timetable by announcing plans to withdraw from a proposed 60-story skyscraper and lease up to 350,000 square feet of existing space.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial calls it "a good way to start the year."

On Friday, Tom Waltermire of Team NEO and Brad Whitehead of the Fund for our Economic Future spoke at the City Club about economic forecasting over the next decade. Plain Dealer Editor Susan Goldberg moderated the discussion. They stressed that greater collaboration could increase opportunities for economic growth.

Despite a reduction in support from the Cleveland Foundation, the Fund for Our Economic Future is proceeding with plans for its third phase, and recently received a $3 million grant from the Knight Foundation to support local government reform efforts. The Fund also launched round two the the EfficientGovNow program yesterday. Local governments have until February 26 to submit a proposal for a collaborative project for the competition. The Fund listed 10 ways that residents can support the program.

Update: the Fund shared more information about the Knight Foundation grant.

As the Fund for Our Economic Future prepares to embark on its third three-year phase, Phil Ranney of the Kent H. Smith Charitable Trust and Brian Frederick of the Community Foundation of Lorain County say that the "collaboration is indeed making a difference in transforming the future of Northeast Ohio. And philanthropy remains committed to, and invites others to join, the mission we embarked on in 2004 to make our region great again."

Cuyahoga County officials reopened talks with the owners of buildings on the west side of Mall B, and may sign an option to purchase the properties. It would allow MMPI to drop its controversial proposal to build the Medical Mart at Mall C.

The Cleveland Foundation awarded $15 million in fourth-quarter grants. One of the largest awards was a $1 million grant to Team NEO. The foundation substantially reduced its commitment to the Fund for Our Economic Future, awarding $300,000 for its third phase. The Fund had requested $10 million for the three-year phase. The Gund Foundation gave $4.9 million in grants, including awards to Entrepreneurs for Sustainability and ParkWorks. The two foundations distributed fewer dollars in 2009 than in 2008.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial expressed concern about the Cleveland Foundation's decision to give less to the Fund for Our Economic Future.

Commissioner Hagan said that the Medical Mart project is proceeding and that he's confident it will open before competing projects in other cities.

The Sacramento Press looked at lessons that California could learn from older Midwestern cities.

(via the Cleveland Foundation)

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the planned Medical Mart should proceed, and that "making this work -- in a way that benefits the city, the region and the developer -- needs to be a clear community priority for 2010."

The Plain Dealer looked at four major downtown Cleveland development projects and whether they could serve as catalysts for future residential development.

Cleveland Councilman Joe Cimperman helped to organize four public meetings about the Medical Mart for early 2010. Roldo Bartimole interpreted them as a political maneuver. Mayor Jackson spoke about the Medical Mart on Channel 3's Between the Lines and defended Public Auditorium on Channel 5. Commissioner Jones thinks that Cleveland should reduce its asking price for the property MMPI desires for its revised Medical Mart plans. The Cleveland chapter of the American Institute of Architects opposes the new plans, and Steven Litt considered the aesthetic costs of building on Mall C.

Meanwhile, the developers of the proposed Nashville Medical Trade Center announced the site for the 2 million-square-foot complex, increasing pressure on MMPI to demonstrate progress in Cleveland. Developers of both projects have stressed the importance of being the first to open.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority continues to undergo changes. The Port Authority's board laid off four employees and named former National City CEO (PDF) Peter Raskind (PDF) as the port's interim CEO. He expects to serve for three to six months and will be paid $1.00. Raskind spoke with WCPN's Rick Jackson and WKSU's Kevin Niedermier. The Port Authority's board will not see changes, as Mayor Jackson intends to reappoint board Chairman Steven Williams and board member Rose Rodriguez-Bardwell when their terms expire in January. A Plain Dealer editorial said that "Jackson is passing up the chance to help restore public confidence in the port authority board by introducing fresh faces and new ideas."

A study of immigrants in the nation's largest metropolitan areas found that while the five-county Cleveland MSA's proportion of immigrants is relatively low, the area's immigrant population has made strong economic contributions. The study identified correlations between immigration and economic progress, saying that "there is no doubt that immigration and economic growth go hand in hand." In October, panelists on WCPN's Sound of Ideas discussed immigrant attraction.

In the year since the Euclid Corridor project was completed and the HealthLine began operations, the improvements have helped to spur developments downtown, in Midtown, and in University Circle, despite the recession. Steven Litt assessed the project's effectiveness to date.

Frank Jackson, displeased with what he views as a lack of communication from MMPI, yesterday sent the company a list of questions (PDF) about the the proposed changes in the design of the Medical Mart. He also said that the City will hire a consultant to independently assess the condition of Public Auditorium. Steven Litt reviewed MMPI's revised plan and is dubious of its merits.

Details about the upheaval at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority continue to trickle in:

On the most recent Feagler & Friends program, architect Peter van Dijk, Levin College Dean Ned Hill, and the Plain Dealer's Steven Litt discussed the changing plans for the Medical Mart in Cleveland. A Plain Dealer editorial said that the project should move forward. The paper also posted MMPI's photographs of Public Auditorium's obsolete utilities.

Update: the Plain Dealer shared more details of MMPI's presentation on the issues with Public Auditorium.

Members of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board revealed today that they are reconsidering plans to relocate to new facilities north of East 55th Street and efforts to attract container shipping. They also indicated that the Port Authority faces a budget shortfall this year and reflected on recent events. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers told the Port Authority that failure to establish a new confined disposal facility by 2015 could halt dredging of the Cuyahoga River and the Port of Cleveland.

The owners of the Quay 55 apartments asserted that board member John Carney has conflicts of interest and called for his removal. Longtime port staffer Rose Ann DeLeon resigned on Wednesday, becoming the third official to leave in the last six weeks.

Steven Litt has questions about MMPI's revised concept for the Medical Mart in Cleveland, and participants on yesterday's Sound of Ideas program raised more questions. Cleveland City Council members demanded answers from MMPI representatives at a meeting yesterday. MMPI officials gave their reasons for rejecting Public Auditorium and presented alternate configurations they considered before concluding that Mall C would be the best site. Scene remained unimpressed, as was Roldo Bartimole.

While 20 companies are interested in leasing space at the Medical Mart, none of them have signed agreements. If negotiations bog down, Cuyahoga County leaders could suspend monthly payments to MMPI.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority again declined to share the reasons for CEO Adam Wasserman's recent exit, and the Plain Dealer repeated its call for better communication and transparency from the Port Authority. An article in this week's Scene tells the story of Wasserman's two-year tenure.

Meanwhile, the Port Authority board today delayed the port's planned move to a new dike near East 55th Street. The Port Authority also admitted that it cannot meet the deadline to supply the $158 million local match for the construction of the dike.

In the wake of Adam Wasserman's departure from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, a Plain Dealer editorial said that "the port has to change, and it will change if it wants its trajectory to be up, not down and out." Brent Larkin thinks that more dramatic changes are necessary.

MMPI's announcement that they now intend to build the Medical Mart at the northern edge of Mall C surprised Cleveland leaders, and they are concerned about the proposed changes. Steven Litt considered the architectural and urban design implications of the new site and how Public Auditorium would fit in. Commissioner Hagan defended MMPI, while Mayor Jackson still wants the company to renovate Public Auditorium.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial said that the recent events underscore the need for better communication. MedCity News compared the project's timetable with those of competing developments in Nashville and New York City.

Citing higher than anticipated costs, MMPI dropped its plans to renovate Public Auditorium and to use it and neighboring properties as the site of the planned Medical Mart. MMPI officials say they are considering multiple alternatives, but are focusing on building it on Mall C, also known as Strawbridge Plaza.

Update: the changes could also delay the project.

Brent Larkin thinks that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority needs to provide better leadership and accelerate the timetable of its planned move. Cleveland leaders expressed mixed reactions.

A Plain Dealer editorial about the recent PolicyBridge report on Cleveland's neighborhoods concludes that "this as a time to build, not a time to mourn -- precisely the attitude Clevelanders must adopt."

Mandy Metcalf disagrees with the conclusions of the report released by PolicyBridge last week. She says that Cleveland needs to "to invest in all neighborhoods and all communities" and that "all of our neighborhoods should not only survive but thrive."

Update: Mansfield Frazier supports the report's findings, but says that they could be difficult to implement.

(via GreenCityBlueLake)

A new report from PolicyBridge (PDF) recommends that Cleveland should carefully target investments in its neighborhoods. It says that "Cleveland must make strategic choices about rebuilding its neighborhoods, making tough decisions about investing aggressively in some while scaling back investments in others."

Sunday's Plain Dealer included several opinion pieces on the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's proposed relocation. Former Cleveland Planning Director Hunter Morrison said that the planning efforts "should look beyond the corporate limits of Cleveland and include all of the region's industrial port assets—including the ports of Lorain, Grand River, Ashtabula and Conneaut". Adam Wasserman and Steven Williams of the Port Authority said that the facts support the planned move, and released a draft of the Port's five-year maritime business plan (PDF). Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and mayoral candidate Bill Patmon also weighed in.

This week's Scene took a skeptical look at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's relocation plans.

Consultants for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority said that the Port Authority could take in $1 billion over 20 years through the planned redevelopment of its current downtown facilities.

Greater Ohio, building on input provided at June's Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Mini-Summit, has prepared a draft of its Restoring Prosperity to Cleveland Policy Platform and is gathering comments and suggestions. The document will serve as a model for platforms for other Ohio cities.

The Gund Foundation announced $5.6 million in grants yesterday. The largest award was a $4 million grant to the Fund for Our Economic Future, a 30% increase in the foundation's support for the effort. The Cleveland Foundation awarded $14.8 million in grants, including $250,000 for two ParkWorks programs.

MMPI is working behind the scenes on the engineering, design, and marketing of the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland. Construction is scheduled to begin late next year.

GreenCityBlueLake and Rust Wire present highlights from the second From Rust Belt to Artist Belt conference, held last week in the Gordon Square Arts District. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Gordon Square Arts District Chairman Lawrence Schultz describes the neighborhood reinvestment as "a unique economic dynamo" that is "rewriting the way the arts can rapidly shape neighborhood redevelopment."

Update: GreenCityBlueLake has more stories from the event.

Governor Strickland appointed Lisa Patt-McDaniel as director of the Ohio Department of Development. She has served as its interim director since May.

GreenCityBlueLake posted a list of 28 initiatives (PDF) that were developed at the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit and compiled by the City of Cleveland.

Update: the Plain Dealer published more details.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, David Cooperrider of the Weatherhead School of Management wrote about sustainability in Cleveland and the recent summit. He believes that Northeast Ohio is poised to become a leading sustainable economy, and that the summit was the end of the quiet crisis.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority is no longer pursuing a proposed Lake Erie ferry from North Coast Harbor to Port Stanley, Ontario, at least partly due to issues on the Canadian side. However, planning continues for the initiation of ferry service between Lake County and Port Burwell, Ontario. Port Authority officials instead want to proceed with modifications to the Port of Cleveland and the development of cargo container shipping. The Port Authority will apply for federal stimulus funds to establish a containerized shipping line between Cleveland and Montreal.

The Fund for Our Economic Future adopted the new Fund for Sustainability, an outgrowth of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit. When it is more fully funded and gains guidelines, it will provide loans to sustainable businesses.

The Ohio Department of Development has been without a permanent director since Lee Fisher stepped down in February, and a Plain Dealer editorial says that appointing a director should be a priority. The paper had earlier raised the issue in May, when Lisa Patt-McDaniel was named as interim director. Meanwhile, Karen Kasler of the Statehouse News Bureau asked what the department should be doing and whether it should continue to exist.

Richard Stuebi compared the recent sustainability summit in Cleveland to a meeting of climate change skeptics in Springfield, Missouri. Meanwhile, participants from BrownFlynn reported on their involvement and followup activities, and a waste to profit group is gathering support.

Marc Lefkowitz continued his analysis of Living Cities' involvement in Cleveland and attempted to assess its impacts over the last eight months. He found that "it's impressive by Cleveland standards, but whether Living Cities can pull off broad transformative change in the way we understand community development to work is still far from clear."

Stakeholders from the recent Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit have been meeting in small groups, both in person and online, to refine the ideas generated at the event. They will compile the recommendations in a written report later this year.

On Thursday, Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority CEO Adam Wasserman and architect Stanton Eckstut described the downtown Cleveland port redevelopment plan at the City Club (MP3, 55.8 MB). On Friday, they presented the plan to the Cleveland City Planning Commission, where members had many questions about the concept. Adam Wasserman and the Port's Luke Frazier outlined the plan on Channel 3. Also on Friday, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers gave its tentative approval to the Port's relocation plan, issuing a 241-page draft of its Cleveland Harbor Dredged Material Management Plan & Environmental Impact Statement (PDF, 8.4 MB). A Plain Dealer editorial says that the relocation and redevelopment plans need "a good deal more attention to detail". The Port Authority is preparing My Cleveland Waterfront, a website about the plans.

Update: Port Authority Chairman Steven Williams disputed several items in a Plain Dealer story.

Participants in the recent Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit continue to share ideas and reactions about the event. Marianne Eppig, Wendy Feinn, Gregg LaBar, Marc Lefkowitz, and Mike McNutt provide more perspectives. The summit was also briefly discussed on The Sound of Ideas on Thursday. In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Mayor Jackson said that "now is the time to take action" to make Cleveland the first city to attain sustainability.

Even before last week's Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit, local businesses were profiting by adopting sustainable business models. A Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland now must advance the summit's final goals.

On Thursday, the second day of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit, the appreciative inquiry process continued as participants brainstormed and refined creative ideas for advancing a sustainable Cleveland. Ray Anderson of Interface was the morning's featured speaker. Attendees Carole Cohen, Chris Gammmell, and Marc Lefkowitz shared their experiences.

The summit concluded today with teams working to distill their concepts into tangible recommendations and to prepare written reports. The results will be compiled into a 10-year action plan. The City intents to maintain the summit's momentum by working with a post-summit committee. Joe Koncelik, Marc Lefkowitz, and Carin Rockind provided recaps of the day and entire event, while the Cleveland Public Library posted a Sustainable Cleveland Reading List.

Update: you can also read reactions by Marianne Eppig, Chris Gammell, Ed Morrison, and Robert Stockham.

At the first day of the Sustainable Cleveland 2019 summit, Van Jones of the White House Council on Environmental Quality offered his support and Frank Jackson outlined his vision for a sustainable economy. Participants also heard from other speakers and took part in an ongoing appreciative inquiry process developed by David Cooperrider. Lynette Young of Sustainable Atlanta was very impressed. Attendees Carole Cohen, Chris Gammell, Gregg LaBar, and Robert Stockham shared their thoughts, too.

Update: Marc Lefkowitz and Annabel Khouri also provided day one summaries.

The annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators compared the economic performance of Northeast Ohio's metropolitan areas with other American metropolitan areas. It found that the area's economy improved between 2004 and 2007, but noted that it is "unclear how the region will fare after the present recession ends." The Dashboard site has not yet been updated with the latest figures.

Update: the Chronicle-Telegram offers more details.

Marc Lefkowitz began his exploration of Living Cities' involvement in Cleveland with a look at how it is supporting systematic change.

More than 600 people are expected to attend the three-day sustainability summit in Cleveland this week. GreenCityBlueLake posted the pre-summit briefing paper, and a Plain Dealer editorial described the opportunities the summit should create. Meanwhile, Brent Larkin stressed the urgency of building a water-based economy in Greater Cleveland.

Cuyahoga County officials say that negotiations for the purchase of the office building at 113 St. Clair have stalled. The County wants the downtown property for the planned Medical Mart. If an agreement isn't reached next month, the County will instead utilize the site of its current administration building at Lakeside Avenue and Ontario Street. The County recently began a formal search for new office space.

Toby Cosgrove, Tim Hagan, and Chris Kennedy talked about the Medical Mart at the City Club yesterday. MMPI President Chris Kennedy said that the four- or five-story structure will be built at the northeast corner of Ontario Street and St. Clair Avenue. He also said that the renovation of Public Auditorium will begin late this year and finish next year. Audio of the forum is available (MP3, 50.9 MB) from the City Club.

Mark Falanga of MMPI said that the company has cleared most of the challenges to building the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland, and that it soon will begin marketing the project to medical suppliers.

Members of the Fund for Our Economic Future unanimously voted to continue with a third phase of the program. It will begin in February 2010 and end in February 2013. Leaders anticipate that the phase will be smaller than the first two phases due to the effects of the recession.

Inside Business explored the potential and reservations surrounding the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland, describing it as "a significant risk on a promising concept."

A Texas economic consulting firm is conducting an analysis of the Euclid corridor between downtown Cleveland and University Circle to determine whether it could support a biomedical industry cluster.

Cuyahoga County officials opened negotiations for the purchase of three buildings that occupy a portion of the site of the planned Medical Mart. The buildings at the northeast corner of St. Clair Avenue and Ontario Street are the Justice Center Parking Garage, the Sportsman deli, and 113 St. Clair, an office building. If they are unable to reach an agreement, the County will vacate its nearby Administration Building for the project.

The City of Fairview Park is nearing its planned purchase of the Country Inn Motel on Lorain Road. The Cuyahoga County Department of Development is providing a loan that will enable the City to redevelop the site.

Beachwood officials intend to make the Commerce Park area more attractive to biomedical businesses.

A proposed 1.5 million-square foot medical trade center in Nashville could provide competition for the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland. Dallas-based Market Center Management Co. has not yet identified a site for the project. Market Center Management and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. executives both say that opening a facility first is critical. A similar development also has been proposed for New York City.

The board of the the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officially notified the Army Corps of Engineers that they are interested in moving to new facilities north of East 55th Street.

The plans to build the Medical Mart along downtown Cleveland's Mall B may include the site currently occupied by the Cuyahoga County Administration Building. If the property is not included in the initial plans, it could be part of a subsequent development. However, County leaders estimate that a decision will not be made until 2012 at the earliest.

On Monday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners and Mayor Jackson of Cleveland signed a letter of intent for the transfer of Public Auditorium and the existing convention center. The County agreed to purchase the downtown facilities from the City for $20 million, $2.5 million more than the Commissioners offered last week. They suggested that the additional dollars should be used to improve downtown's Perk Park. The agreement must be formally approved by the County Commissioners and Cleveland City Council. WTAM posted audio of the press conference, and Erick Trickey of Cleveland Magazine provided some analysis plus an interview of Commissioner Hagan.

Update: the County Commissioners unanimously approved the agreement.

The City of Cleveland and a group of neighboring communities hope to create an aerotropolis around Cleveland Hopkins Airport. Mayor Jackson proposed the concept in 2007. Cleveland officials also want to build retail on City-owned property near the airport.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners issued a Friday deadline for reaching an agreement with the City of Cleveland on the purchase price for the existing convention center, which would be used in the development of the planned Medical Mart. The Commissioners "will consider other sites" if they cannot reach a deal. The City and County are about $7.5 million apart in their offers.

The Urbanophile used personal observations and commentary from other bloggers to compile an outsider's view of Cleveland's problems. The post engendered a thoughtful conversation, which the Urbanophile highlighted and replied to in a second post.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority held three open houses this week about the Port's planned relocation. Cleveland residents raised concerns about a loss of public access to the lakefront.

The Wall Street Journal looked at the role of artists as urban pioneers during the foreclosure crisis, focusing on examples in Cleveland's Collinwood and Detroit-Shoreway neighborhoods.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners today unanimously voted to adopt a development agreement with developer Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. for the construction and operation of the planned new convention center and Medical Mart. A series of four additional agreements will eventually replace the development agreement, and could take a year to finalize. The next step will be to decide on a location for the new facilities. The Commissioners posted the final development agreement (PDF), and WTAM has audio from the meeting.

Several aspects of Cuyahoga County's convention center and Medical Mart plans have recently appeared in the news:

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners yesterday released a draft of the development agreement (PDF) between Cuyahoga County and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. for the construction and operation of the planned Medical Mart and new convention center. MMPI is expected to sign the agreement shortly, and the Commissioners may approve the document next week. The 62-page document expands upon last year's tentative agreement.

The Commissioners also released detailed construction requirements (PDFs) that were prepared by consultants Conventional Wisdom Corp. In addition, they hired law firm Bricker & Eckler to help negotiate property acquisitions for the new facilities.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that Greater Cleveland "needs to re-establish itself as a magnet for new Americans" to again become "one of America's most prosperous cities." It also praises the Greater Cleveland Partnership for including immigration as one of the focus areas of its public policy agenda.

In an editorial published on Sunday, the Plain Dealer expressed its desire for more information about Cuyahoga County's development agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. for the planned Medical Mart and convention center. Yesterday, the paper announced that it had reached a deal with the Cuyahoga County Commissioners. The County will release the tentative agreement at least one week prior to finalizing the document.

Leaders of the Fund for Our Economic future expect that the recession will prevent the organization from raising the $30 million it was able to collect in earlier phases. Member organizations may not be able to contribute as much because of substantial declines in the value of their endowments.

Forest City Enterprises executives advanced a two-pronged strategy for the Medical Mart and convention center, presenting refined plans for a new riverfront facility at Tower City Center, while challenging the suitability of the Mall site. Simultaneously, the Plain Dealer began questioning Merchandise Mart Properties Inc.'s projections for the number of conventions the Medical Mart will attract and its financial benefits to the area. MMPI responded to the newspaper (PDF), Forest City (PDF), and the Cuyahoga County Commissioners (PDF). The company endorsed the Mall site and rejected the Tower City site, saying that a number of concerns made the location a "non-starter". Today, Cuyahoga County and MMPI reached an agreement in principle for the financing of the convention center and Medical Mart. A final site selection is expected in a few weeks.

Update: Forest City is not giving up. The company stated its position in letters to MMPI and the County Commissioners and launched a special website.

Leaders in North Olmsted and Westlake are pleased with the economic development opportunities created by the completion of the Crocker-Stearns connector. The City of North Olmsted has begun the process of rezoning and redeveloping the Stearns Road corridor south of the new construction.

Now that an engineering study has verified that the foundation of the Cleveland Convention Center is strong enough to support the proposed new convention center, Cuyahoga County and the City of Cleveland have begun discussing the purchase of the existing facilities. County leaders want the City to donate the site for the project, but Mayor Jackson feels that the City should be compensated. Officials said that a deal will be reached this month.

Meanwhile, Forest City Enterprises executives were in Chicago yesterday to promote their revised proposal for the Tower City site. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. representatives were not convinced that Forest City's construction estimates were accurate. Positively Cleveland's Dennis Roche encourages leaders to pick a site and build the Medical Mart.

On Thursday, Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson made his fourth annual State of the City Address, titled "It's Our Time (PDF): Bucking National Trends and Building for Tomorrow". He spoke optimistically about the budget, quality of life issues, economic development, and the regional economy. He also called for a more regional approach to education. WKYC has video of the speech, and WTAM posted the audio. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey liveblogged the event.

As predicted, Osborn Engineering today told the Cuyahoga County Commissioners that the foundation of the existing Cleveland Convention Center is sound and that it would be feasible to reuse it for a new facility. The presentation is available online (PPT). On Monday, Cleveland City Council unanimously passed a resolution calling the Mall site the "most advantageous" location for the Medical Mart and new convention center. Meanwhile, Steven Litt examined Forest City Enterprises' revised proposal for a convention center at Tower City, and is concerned that the site may be too small. A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Forest City concept deserves to be considered.

Update: Osborn's Convention Center Foundation System Study (PDF, 13.3 MB) is also available.

Forest City Enterprises yesterday presented simplified plans for building the Medical Mart and convention center at Tower City. Forest City estimates its plans will cost $398 million, $27 million less than than the current estimates for construction at the Mall site. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. officials said the plans were unworkable, but the two companies will meet on March 10. Steven Litt described the process as "a tug-of-war like the early 20th-century battle over whether to put the city's main train station at the Mall or Tower City."

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's $26.5 million request for stimulus funds would enable it to convert dock and warehouse facilities for use as a wind turbine manufacturing plant. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners also requested stimulus dollars for the proposed demonstration wind farm in Lake Erie. Meanwhile, the Port Authority anticipates a $661,000 drop in revenue due to cutbacks at ArcelorMittal's Cleveland plant.

Reactions to last week's presentation about plans for the Medical Mart and convention center were varied:

Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. officials yesterday presented their planning studies for the Medical Mart and new convention center, first to Cleveland City Council and later at a public meeting attended by over 300 people. The presentations answered many of Steven Litt's questions about the proposal, but left other questions unanswered. Forest City Enterprises used the public meeting to urge officials to reconsider the eliminated Tower City site. Cleveland Magazine's Erick Trickey liveblogged the proceedings and provided other insights.

The Plain Dealer examined the unusual ownership arrangement described in the memorandum of understanding (PDF) between Cuyahoga County and MMPI, and County Administrator Jim McCafferty differed with the paper's portrayal (PDF) of the agreement.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers estimates that building a disposal dike north of East 55th Street would cost between $250 million and $300 million. The site has been proposed as the new home for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority

At the public meeting on Thursday, Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. officials are expected to explain that the Mall site is the only option for the planned Medical Mart and convention center. Cuyahoga County Administrator James McCafferty issued a statement (PDF) saying that the Flats site is not a backup, and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority issued a statement saying that Port land in the Flats is unavailable for the development.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. said that they would consider the Flats east bank site as a fallback if building the planned convention center and Medical Mart at the Mall is impractical. The Plain Dealer answered questions about the project.

Update: WCPN and WKSU offer more information about next week's public hearing.

In a pair of posts at Newgeography.com, Ed Morrison lays out the challenges facing Greater Cleveland and offers suggestions for strengthening the region's economic development strategies.

In an editorial, the Plain Dealer repeats its appeal for openness in the planning process for the Medical Mart and convention center.

When the Cuyahoga County Commissioners made the preliminary selection of the Mall site for the planned Medical Mart and new convention center last week, the estimated costs were a major factor. Developer Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. calculated that construction costs at the Mall could be substantially reduced by reusing the foundation of the existing Cleveland Convention Center. Cuyahoga County may hire Osborn Engineering to evaluate the concept.

Reactions to the announcement were varied. Frank Jackson supported the proposal, but took a cautious approach. The Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association endorsed Mayor Jackson's approach (PDF). On the other hand, Forest City Enterprises and the Greater Cleveland Partnership called for further public review of the decision, and a Plain Dealer editorial asked for increased transparency. Meeting planners simply want a new convention center. Participants in the selection process discussed the issues on WCPN's Sound of Ideas earlier this week.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Dominic LoGalbo questions the need for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to move to proposed new facilities and the process used to reach the proposal. Meanwhile, a Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Port Authority to be less secretive.

The Plain Dealer has more details about how Ronn Richard will help to coordinate the distribution of federal stimulus dollars.

Following hours of private meetings yesterday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners announced that the new convention center and Medical Mart will be built at the Mall in downtown Cleveland. The facility will be built on the site of the existing convention center and three other buildings, and will incorporate a renovated Public Auditorium into its design. Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. estimated that the project will cost $425 million. Construction could begin by the end of the year.

The Mall location was selected over the Tower City site and a site in the Flats. MMPI estimated that construction behind Tower City would cost an additional $108 million, contradicting an earlier study by the Greater Cleveland Partnership. Developer Scott Wolstein offered a last-minute proposal to build the facility north of a scaled-back version of his stalled Flats east bank project. He continues to advocate for the Flats site.

Michael Wager, the outgoing chairman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, said in his parting remarks that "Cleveland and Ohio need bold initiatives." Vice Chair Steven Williams will be the Port Authority's new chairman.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership is promoting a list of regional infrastructure projects for federal stimulus funding.

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development's 2008 Annual Report (PDF) highlights its programming, partnerships, and accomplishments.

Governor Strickland appointed Ronn Richard of the Cleveland Foundation as Ohio's infrastructure czar. In the temporary, part-time position, he will guide the process to select projects and distribute funds from the federal stimulus package. Frank Jackson is pleased with the selection.

Meeting planner Bruce Harris told the Plain Dealer that he thinks the Tower City site is the best location for the planned new convention center and Medical Mart. The Plain Dealer also published editorials about the siting decision on Saturday and on Tuesday. Roldo Bartimole objects to the way the newspaper is handling the subject.

Congressmen Tim Ryan and Jason Altmire talked about the Cleveland to Pittsburgh Tech Belt Initiative at the City Club today. Congressman Ryan said that the collaboration will allow the region to leverage federal dollars.

Update: audio of the talk (MP3, 127 MB) is now online.

The City of Fairview Park reached an agreement with the owner of the Cleveland Motel. The owner will demolish the Lorain Road building, and the City of Fairview Park will purchase the site for $120,000. The City also bought the Country Inn Motel last fall. Both were acquired for future redevelopment.

Update: Fairview Park City Council approved the agreement.

Frank Jackson traveled to Chicago on Tuesday for a meeting with Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. officials about plans for the new convention center and Medical Mart. The meeting alleviated the mayor's concerns about the project, and he declared that he was impressed by MMPI's thoroughness. Scene Editor Frank Lewis, on the other hand, remains unimpressed.

MMPI continues to evaluate the Tower City and Mall sites, and company executives are scheduled to share their analysis with Cuyahoga County leaders next week. Commissioner Jones discussed the project's status on Channel 3 yesterday.

Kent State University's Urban Design Collaborative will become the first tenant in the Cleveland District of Design in July when it moves from its current home in the Pointe At Gateway to the Cowell & Hubbard Building at Playhouse Square.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority has begun planning for the 1,000-acre international trade district it envisions near its proposed new facilities in Cleveland, and intends to complete the plans this year.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson unveiled an updated urban agenda (PDF) today. It identified four priority projects for which he hopes to obtain federal and state infrastructure stimulus dollars. In letters President-elect Obama and Governor Strickland, he requested $730 million for the Innerbelt Bridge, Riverbed Road, Opportunity Corridor, and West Shoreway projects. His entire list includes $1.56 billion in infrastructure investments.

Update: Henry Gomez posted Mayor Jackson's entire list and his letters.

Mark Falanga of Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. said that the company will not be rushed into a decision on the location of the planned Medical Mart. He added that the company is "getting close" to completing its evaluation. Meanwhile, Vornado Realty Trust, MMPI's parent company, is seeking federal bailout funds.

The Dike 14 Preservation Committee opposes the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's plans to relocate their facilities to a new site north of East 55th Street. The group says that the move threatens the East 55th Street Marina, Gordon Park, and Dike 14.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners extended their self-imposed January 15 site selection deadline for the planned Medical Mart and convention center by one month. Mayor Jackson was not pleased about the delay, but still supports the project.

Update: the Plain Dealer examined Frank Jackson's role in the Medical Mart negotiations, and in an editorial, urged the County Commissioners to make a decision.

Forest City executives complain about the lack of communication regarding negotiations for the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland. Cuyahoga County officials still intend to select a site by January 15.

The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture followed up its May summit with a new paper titled "From Rust Belt to Artist Belt: Challenges and Opportunities in Rust Belt Cites." It discusses the strengths and weaknesses of rust belt cities, what they can offer to artists, and what artists have to offer to cities. The full white paper (PDF, 13.5 MB) is available, as is an executive summary (PDF, 3.4 MB).

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, outgoing Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Chairman Michael Wager says that "the relocation of the port and creation of new port land is an opportunity to change not only the size and scope of the port's operations and to create the new trade district, but also an opportunity to remake the city's downtown lakefront and replace its aging infrastructure."

The fourth and final installment of the "Cleveland Plus: Turning the Corner" series was held last week at the City Club. Participants in the five-person panel discussion talked about regional economic development initiatives (MP3, 27.7 MB). Dorothy Baunach served as moderator.

The Plain Dealer examined how Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Adam Wasserman has transformed the agency's staff in an effort to make it a more powerful economic driver for the region.

Last week, the Cleveland Foundation awarded $18.8 million in grants and loans for the fourth quarter of 2008. The grants include $4 million to the Fund for Our Economic Future, $272,500 to Cuyahoga County for the Great Lakes Wind Energy Center, and $225,000 to ParkWorks.

The First Suburbs Development Council's storefront renovation program has lost funding due to Cuyahoga County budget cuts.

The Fund for Our Economic Future approved $1.2 million in new grants, including $300,000 for a new government efficiency initiative, $250,000 for Team NEO, and $106,300 for Cleveland State University to produce the 2009 Dashboard of Economic Indicators.

Update: the government efficiency program will have two elements: grants for intergovernmental collaboration, and a public engagement component.

Frank Jackson did not reappoint attorney Michael Wager to the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, and instead nominated attorney Marc Krantz. Wager, who has been serving as the board's chairmain, recently spoke about the future of the port at the City Club. Audio of his talk (MP3, 20.7 MB) is now available.

This week, the American Wind Energy Association held its national Supply Chain Workshop in Cleveland, and Case Western Reserve University will hold a conference on offshore wind turbine development. The Plain Dealer published an overview of the plans for a Lake Erie wind farm three miles north of Cleveland, WKSU examined the wind turbine industry in Northeast Ohio, and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked at offshore turbine proposals from across the region.

Update: Governor Strickland addressed the workshop on Tuesday.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that cooperation through the Tech Belt Initiative between Cleveland and Pittsburgh "is already beginning to pay off."

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority staffers are ready to solicit for consultants to develop a plan for redeveloping the current port site. The port's board hopes to select firms by late February and have a completed plan in September 2009.

Editorials in the Plain Dealer express optimism about the movement in the Medical Mart talks and about the continued reinvestment in University Circle. Another editorial follows up on the newspaper's recent feature on Pittsburgh, and says that Cleveland's leaders can learn much from Pittsburgh. However, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review columnist Colin McNickle feels that "the Plain Dealer story might go down in history as the most uninformed look at Pittsburgh ever written."

(via Callahan's Cleveland Diary and Blog 5)

Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority Chairman Michael Wager told a City Club audience yesterday that state and local leaders should support the Port's planned move to new facilities.

A Plain Dealer feature examined the ways that Pittsburgh influences Cleveland and explored redevelopment and economic development strategies employed by Pittsburgh that could be applied in Cleveland. Meanwhile, a New Orleans Times-Picayune series on the shrinking cities movement looked to Cleveland and other Midwestern cities as positive models. At Cleveburgh Diaspora, Jim Russell submits that "the fate of Pittsburgh and Cleveland are increasingly intertwined."

Cuyahoga County hired Conventional Wisdom of Orlando to assist in the design of the convention center portion of the Medical Mart project. The County hopes to name a site for the development by January 15.

Armond Budish, the Speaker-elect of the Ohio House of Representatives, pledged to focus on urban revitalization and economic development, but did not reveal specific proposals.

The Ohio Department of Development awarded 12 Job Ready Sites program grants, two of which were for projects in Cuyahoga County. The City of Cleveland received $5 million for the Cuyahoga Valley Industrial Center, a planned redevelopment of a 57-acre brownfield site near the Cuyahoga River. Ray Fogg Building Methods received $4.3 million to assist in the development of an industrial park on the 80-acre PMX site in Euclid.

The planned Medical Mart in Cleveland faces potential competition from World Product Centre, a proposed $1 billion New York City skyscraper targeted at the healthcare industry. The project was first announced last year, and late last month, developers unveiled designs for a 60-story, 1.5 million square foot tower designed by Kohn Pederson Fox. They hope to open the tower in 2013.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that Cleveland's political and civic leaders must select a site for the Medical Mart.

The City of Fairview Park may purchase the Country Inn Motel on Lorain Road. Plans call for making the property attractive to developers by demolishing the building and preparing the site for redevelopment.

On Monday, South Euclid City Council unanimously approved the creation a community reinvestment area encompassing the entire city. The City of Brooklyn passed similar legislation last month.

The credit crunch has pushed back the debut of the Cleveland District of Design. Cleveland State's Ned Hill said that its launch is probably a year away.

Crain's Cleveland Business looked at the storefront renovation programs in Cleveland Heights, Gates Mills, and Parma.

The chambers of commerce for the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Youngstown areas rolled out the Tech Belt Initiative, an economic development strategy intended to help the region transition to a knowledge-based economy.

Update: the Plain Dealer offers more information.

Professor Scott Shane of the Weatherhead School of Management prepared a white paper about entrepreneurial activity and economic development for the Fund for Our Economic Future. It "explored ways in which the Fund could use entrepreneurship (PDF) to improve the lives of the residents of Northeast Ohio."

Update: the paper recommends that programs to enhance immigration should not be pursued as an economic development strategy. Attorney Richard Herman disagrees.

Last week, Brooklyn City Council unanimously approved the creation of a citywide community reinvestment area.

The Great Lakes Region Coalition, a group of over 30 Midwest chambers of commerce, released a business agenda that outlines their federal legislative priorities for growing the region's economy. The initiative is an outgrowth the Brookings Institution's work on the Great Lakes Economic Initiative.

Update: Joe Roman describes the agenda in a Plain Dealer op-ed.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio say that "Ohio policies stack the deck against core communities, systematically favoring the growth of new places over the redevelopment of older ones and failing to leverage the assets in these places in any coherent way" and that state programs and policies should "identify and build on the key assets that drive prosperity in the places where they occur."

The Plain Dealer looked around the United States for new economic revitalization strategies that could be utilized in Greater Cleveland.

The nationwide credit crunch has the potential to raise the price of the planned Cleveland Medical Mart and convention center by millions of dollars.

The Fund for Our Economic Future awarded a grant of as much as $1.5 million to NorTech, the technology advocacy group that recently narrowed its focus, and gave up to $600,000 to the Northeast Ohio Mayors & City Managers Association for support of its work on revenue sharing and regional planning.

Update: the Twinsburg Bulletin has more information about the award to the Mayors & City Managers Association.

Attendance was sparse at the fourth public forum about the planned Medical Mart and convention center in Cleveland.

The third annual Dashboard of Economic Indicators found that the economic performance Northeast Ohio's four metropolitan areas continues to fall short of national and regional averages. The results correspond with earlier Dashboard reports and other national studies.

Update: the Morning Journal summarized the findings, while the Plain Dealer published a more optimistic story.

Statistics released by the BEA show that the five-county Cleveland MSA had the 26th-largest GDP of the nation's 363 metropolitan areas. However, it was also one of only 55 metropolitan areas to see a contraction of its economy between 2005 and 2006. The region's losses were attributed to a decline in manufacturing.

This week's Scene summarizes the most recent events in the convention center saga and questions decisions in the site selection process.

WKSU is airing NEO Development: Rebuilding Northeast Ohio, a week-long series that explores the future of development in the region. The first story in the series looks at the Cleveland District of Design.

Best Performing Cities 2008 is a new report from the Milken Institute and Greenstreet Real Estate Partners that ranks U.S. metropolitan areas by "how well they are creating and sustaining jobs and economic growth." Of the 200 largest metropolitan areas studied, Greater Cleveland was ranked number 193. Most cities in Ohio and Michigan fared poorly on the list.

(via Planetizen)

Brooklyn City School District administrators support the plan for creating a citywide community reinvestment area.

At the request of Cuyahoga County leaders, Merchandise Mart Properties will lead negotiations on the price of the site for the planned new downtown convention center.

Update: Jay Miller of Crain's Cleveland Business provides some insight into the decision.

The theme of the third "Cleveland Plus: Turning the Corner" discussion at the City Club (MP3, 25.4 MB) was infrastructure and transportation. The participants were Ricky Smith of the Cleveland Department of Port Control, Bonita Teeuwen of ODOT District 12, and Adam Wasserman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. The final event in the series will be held on December 17, and will the examine the changing regional economy.

Legislation was introduced in Brooklyn City Council that would designate the entire city as a community reinvestment area. Homeowners and businesses in CRAs are eligible for tax incentives on new construction and major renovations. The City of South Euclid is considering similar legislation.

Channel 8 compared the current proposal for building a convention center at Tower City Center to Forest City Enterprises' 2003 proposal, which included the redevelopment of Scranton Peninsula.

As the Cleveland Clinic prepares to open the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion and the Glickman Tower at its Cleveland campus, the Plain Dealer published a set of articles that explore the impacts of the new buildings. They represent the Clinic's largest expansion ever, an addition of more than 1.25 million square feet.

While the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's relocation plans include moving the East 55th Street Marina, the Dike 14 Nature Preserve Committee is concerned it will lead to a loss of open space at Gordon Park.

Two residents who live near John Carroll University proposed a study intended to quantify the economic benefits of the neighborhood surrounding the campus.

Concerned taxpayers questioned leaders about the Medical Mart and convention center plans at a public forum in Cleveland Heights yesterday. A second forum will be held on Thursday in Middleburg Heights.

Update: Roldo Bartimole was not impressed by the event. Also, the start time of the Thursday forum has been changed to 5:30.

Commissioner Jones scheduled two public forums to discuss the Medical Mart and convention center plans. The first will be held on September 2 at the Cleveland Heights Community Center, and the second will be on September 4 at the Middleburg Heights Community Center.

Forest City Enterprises executives indicated that they do not intend to drastically drop their $40 million asking price for land at Tower City Center for the planned new convention center. Cuyahoga County leaders deemed the price unacceptable, but hope to reach a compromise.

The Plain Dealer breaks down the new projected $536 million price tag for building the Medical Mart and convention center, while Roldo Bartimole says that it will cost closer to $1 billion. A Plain Dealer editorial supports the Greater Cleveland Partnership's selection of the Tower City site, but Steven Litt has several concerns about the plans and process. Meanwhile, Positively Cleveland leaders are unhappy about the proposal to divert the bureau's funding for the construction.

As expected, the Greater Cleveland Partnership's site selection committee yesterday recommended locating the planned new convention center and Medical Mart on a riverfront site at Tower City Center in downtown Cleveland. The committee estimated that construction costs at the Tower City site would be $536 million and that the costs at the Mall site would be $583 million. Because the expense would be in excess of the County's $400 million budget, the committee offered suggestions for covering the funding gap. They predicted that the County's sales tax increase will bring in $90 million more than initially projected, and also suggested raising or redirecting the county bed tax. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners hope to make a decision this fall.

The Northeast Ohio First Suburbs Consortium is seeking an $80,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Development to assist with economic development efforts in its member cities. The funds would also be used to improve the organization's advocacy and outreach capabilities.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority unveiled a conceptual draft of its proposed new facilities north of East 55th Street in Cleveland. Port Authority officials intend to reach an agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers by next August on building a new dike, with work on the dike to start in 2012 and construction of the port to begin in 2020.

Channel 3 and Channel 8 both report that the Greater Cleveland Partnership's site selection committee is expected to recommend that Tower City should be the site of the Medical Mart and new convention center.

Update: the Plain Dealer also reported on the rumors.

With the expectation that construction costs for the Medical Mart and convention center at either the Mall or Tower City sites will exceed $400 million, two Cuyahoga County Commissioners asserted that the budget must either be supplemented by outside sources or a different site should be selected.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority adopted a development-finance policy yesterday. The new policy deemphasizes funding for retail developments and encourages investments with regional impacts.

Forest City Enterprises presented a revised proposal for a new convention center at Tower City Center in an effort to reduce construction expenses. Instead of selling the air rights, the company now wants to sell the property to Cuyahoga County while retaining the right to build above about a third of the structure.

The CREW Cleveland Conference (PDF) on August 18 will focus on economic development, regionalism, and internationalism. The keynote speaker will be Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher. Online registration is available.

At a Medical Mart forum on Wednesday, Cuyahoga County and MMPI officials urged patience in the site selection process. They still hope to name a site this month, and may seek outside funding sources if construction costs are too high. A Plain Dealer editorial encourages leaders to "assign the Medical Mart a much higher level of disclosure than the normal development deal."

A Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority committee recommended narrowing the focus of its financing activities. If the strategy is approved by the full board, the Port Authority will shift its priority to providing financing for maritime, logistics, or distribution companies, and for businesses that will move to a proposed international trade district near the planned new port facilities. The Port Authority had previously promoted itself as a source of low-cost financing for a variety of developments.

Cleveland State's Ned Hill appeared on this week's episode of Smart City Radio to talk about the Cleveland District of Design. He described economic development as "the art of connecting the dots that nobody else sees."

At a public meeting last evening, users of the East 55th Street Marina in Cleveland expressed their skepticism about the port relocation plans. The Port Authority's plans call for removing and replacing the marina.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership's site selection committee for the Medical Mart and new convention center again delayed making a recommendation. Chairman Fred Nance said that construction estimates for the Mall and Tower City sites are "are way over budget." The group now intends to make a recommendation to the Cuyahoga County Commissioners by late July.

Greater Ohio Co-Director Gene Krebs is touring the state to promote the organization's Restoring Our Prosperity initiative. He was in Hamilton last week and met with Ashtabula leaders on Wednesday. The effort is part of the Brookings Institution's Restoring Prosperity initiative, which provides an agenda for revitalizing the nation's older industrial cities.

(via Restoring Prosperity and Advance Northeast Ohio)

In the fourth and final part of the Lake Erie: Beyond the Surface series of specials, WKYC looked to the future. The show examined lakefront plans, legislative initiatives, economic opportunities, and our drinking water. All four shows are available online.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will present the port relocation plan at a second public meeting on June 16 at Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Cleveland.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership's Medical Mart site selection committee pushed back its plans to make a recommendation by several weeks.

Yesterday, the Fund for Our Economic Future awarded four grants totaling $4.98 million to spur regional economic development efforts. The Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association received $50,000 for further analysis of revenue sharing and regional land use planning through the Regional Economic Revenue Study.

Preliminary testing indicates the presence of some unstable soil at downtown Cleveland's malls, potentially increasing the cost of convention center and Medical Mart construction at the site.

Plans for a new convention center and Medical Mart at the Tower City and Mall sites were presented at yesterday's Medical Mart Site Selection Forum. About 100 people attended the meeting, and most who spoke favored the Mall site. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners still intend to select a location in July.

Update: Jeremy Borger shared his thoughts about the forum.

Michael Gill of the Free Times also wrote about last week's "From Rust Belt to Artist Belt" conference: "The bottom line is that neighborhoods that want to benefit from the arts have to be about helping artists - not the other way around. Succeed at that, and the benefits to the neighborhood will follow."

Citing concerns that construction costs may be too high for the new convention center and Medical Mart at the two leading sites (the Mall and Tower City), Commissioner Hagan asked the Greater Cleveland Partnership's site selection committee to consider a fifth potential location at East 55th Street and Chester Avenue in Midtown.

Recent Plain Dealer editorials praise the regionalism agenda of the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association and the Cleveland District of Design collaboration. An editorial in the Akron Beacon Journal says that "the Republican majority in the Ohio Senate stands strikingly alone" in its opposition to the Great Lakes Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, while an editorial in the Plain Dealer says that the opposition may be breaking down.

Update: an editorial in the Beacon Journal is also positive about the regionalism initiative.

Both property owners and consumer product companies are showing interest in the proposed Cleveland District of Design. Leaders of the effort say they need commitments from six companies in order to launch.

This week's Scene asks questions about the benefits of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's planned move from downtown to a new site north of East 55th Street.

The Village of Walton Hills is again considering hiring an economic development firm instead of adding an economic development director.

GreenCityBlueLake is liveblogging today's "From Rust Belt to Artist Belt" summit.

Update: Even*Cleveland posted a recap of the event, and Steven Litt provided more details.

Channel 3's Tim White interviewed Christopher Kennedy of MMPI about the company's plans for the Medical Mart in Cleveland.

The planned Melford International Terminal, a $300 million container cargo port in Nova Scotia, has the potential to bring increased containerized shipping to ports in Cleveland and Toledo.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership hired three construction and engineering companies to evaluate the four locations that have been identified as potential sites for a new convention center and Medical Mart. The GCP's site selection committee plans to recommend a location by early June.

The Chicago Tribune looked at how the Medical Mart could pose a challenge to Chicago's McCormick Place and other popular sites for medical conventions.

I.D. Magazine interviewed Ned Hill and Daniel Cuffaro about the Cleveland District of Design. "The District of Design is a way to streamline, so that instead of buyers driving all over Northeast Ohio planning a product line, Cleveland would be a one-stop shop."

(via CEOs for Cities)

The From Rust Belt to Artist Belt symposium will be held next Wednesday. WCPN reported on the event and discussed it on yesterday's Around Noon show.

The planned move of a company from Macedonia to Hudson has created skepticism among some Northeast Ohio leaders about the local potential for revenue sharing. Advance Northeast Ohio says that the move illustrates the challenges of negotiating individual revenue sharing deals and the need for a regional approach.

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners revealed that they are now considering a fourth potential location for the planned new convention center and Medical Mart. In addition to the Tower City, Mall, and lakefront sites, they are also looking at a mostly-vacant part of the Warehouse District north of Tower City and west of Public Square. It was one of several sites considered for a new convention center in 2003. Bob Stark also included the area in his proposed Warehouse District development. The Commissioners will hold a public hearing about the four sites on May 22.

Case's Western Reserve Studies Symposium began its second year of Regionally Speaking conversations with a session on "how to move the region forward through economic and community development." The guests were Ronn Richard of the Cleveland Foundation, Chris Warren of the City of Cleveland, and Bobbi Reichtell of Neighborhood Progress Inc.

Cleveland's new economic development director described plans for six new or expanded programs at a City Council Community and Economic Development Committee meeting this morning.

In a supplement to a report from last year, the Brookings Institution estimated that implementation of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy would lead to a $2.1 billion to $3.7 billion increase in residential property values in the Cleveland metropolitan area.

At Friday's NOACA Governing Board meeting, staff members described four ways that the agency could pursue (PDF) a regional economic development agenda: creating a land use vision for the region, writing a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy consistent with federal EDA guidelines, compiling an inventory of local development projects, or developing regional economic development policies. Board members from Lorain and Medina Counties continue to hope that changes in the agency's scope will lead to revisions of the weighted voting provision.

The Ohio Department of Transportation's new Ohio 21st Century Transportation Priorities Task Force will hold its inaugural meeting next month in Columbus. It will encourage conversations on three key issues: promoting a multi-modal system, generating economic development, and maximizing public investment. A final report is expected by this fall.

Update: the West Side Sun News and the Plain Dealer have more information.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Weatherhead School of Management professor Scott Shane says that Northeast Ohio philanthropies and governments need to invest more in economic development activities, and suggests tripling annual investments in JumpStart.

In the third and final article in its series on water issues, the Plain Dealer examined ways that the Cleveland area could utilize its wealth of water for economic advantage, and noted the recent Global Water Ventures of Cleveland feasibility study.

Meanwhile, a pair of newspaper editorials weighed in on the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact. The Morning Journal says that "best thing [State Senator Time Grendell] can do for Ohio is drop his objections entirely and help get the Great Lakes pact approved as soon as possible." The Plain Dealer called Grendell's proposal for a constitutional amendment "a laughable idea designed to prevent or slow passage of the water deal."

The Plain Dealer explored the efforts of OneCommunity, the nonprofit organization working to connect public and nonprofit institutions in Northeast Ohio to an ultra-broadband network.

The U.S. EPA awarded $74 million in brownfields grants to projects in 43 states. The City of Cleveland received $200,000 for the cleanup of the nine acre Chemical and Minerals Reclamation site on Crescent Avenue. Cuyahoga County received $400,000 to perform Phase I and Phase II environmental site assessments at sites across the county and $1 million for its revolving loan fund.

Update: the Cuyahoga County Department of Development has more information.

Yesterday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the of the Euclid Corridor project and its anticipated economic impacts.

Saturday's Plain Dealer included an exploration of the Gordon Square Arts District in Cleveland's Detroit-Shoreway neighborhood. The initial quarterly Gordon Square Experience, a collaborative effort by the district, will be held this Friday and Saturday.

In the second part of its series on water issues, the Plain Dealer looks at the legislative debate surrounding the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact, and adds an infographic and a FAQ on the Compact.

Toledo's Blade includes a look at John Austin's suggestions for improving the Great Lakes economy, and a column by Tom Henry that says that Lee Fisher "should have known better" than to suggest that Ohio might "sell Great Lakes water to thirsty parts of the country".

(via Great Lakes Blogger and Economic News from Ohio's Regions)

Harvard economics professor Ed Glaeser was the keynote speaker yesterday at a conference hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. He said that local leaders need to attract skilled residents to the urban core.

The discussion on Wednesday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN focused on sustainable business and green collar jobs.

The Akron Beacon Journal examined the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's aspirations to begin handling containerized cargo. It notes that "Cleveland and Toledo are uniquely positioned to be spokes on such a hub system because they are as far as a ship can get into the United States without beginning a time-consuming loop up and around the Michigan peninsula to reach other Great Lakes ports."

A report by the City of Westlake's Economic Development Department says that tax abatements have led to the creation of 746 jobs and the retention of another 367 jobs over the last nine years.

The Brookings Institution published The Vital Connection, an update to The Vital Center, their 2006 report about the Great Lakes. The new report includes an analysis of the region's economy and "offers a short set of ambitious, necessary, and doable recommendations for how U.S. and Canadian leadership can help strengthen the bi-national economic relationship in the Great Lakes region".

Team NEO's shift from business retention to business attraction efforts has been very successful. The organization exceeded its goals last year by helping to land 10 projects and $46 million in new payroll.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the organization "now appears to be on track to make a difference in the quest" to lure "jobs, business growth and investment from outside the region".

Steven Litt says that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's planned move "is the kind of big, farsighted planning initiative that could dramatically change the city's future for the better." The Port Authority has begun planning for an international trade district surrounding the new port facilites, and the move also creates the opportunity for redeveloping the Port's existing facilities. He warns, however, that "an Oklahoma-style land rush on the lakefront could bleed the core business district of vital energy". The Port Authority launched a new website with information about the plans.

In a talk at the City Club on Friday, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones spoke about the reopening of bids for the purchase of the County-owned Ameritrust complex and about the recent Medical Mart agreement. He revealed that the Commissioners are considering a third potential location for the Medical Mart and convention center, a lakefront site west of Cleveland Browns Stadium. Download the speech (MP3, 55.3 MB).

Local economic development experts are upbeat about the recent Medical Mart agreement.

Update: a Plain Dealer editorial says that the agreement looks promising.

A proposal prepared by neighbors of John Carroll University says that when the University purchases houses near its campus, it creates a loss of municipal income tax revenue. Meanwhile, a study done for the University by CSU's Center for Economic Development says that JCU had a $115.8 million economic impact on Greater Cleveland over a recent one-year period.

A memorandum of understanding between Cuyahoga County and Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. calls for the County to pay MMPI $103 million over 20 years to manage the planned new Cleveland convention center. The company could earn more if it meets performance standards. Cuyahoga County plans to sell the naming rights for the facility, and will retain all proceeds of the sale.

Update: the County Commissioners approved the MOU this morning.

Forest City Enterprises proposed housing the Medical Mart in the Higbee Building and connecting it to a new riverfront convention center built on air rights purchased from the company. The Plain Dealer compared the advantages and disadvantages of the riverfront and mall sites.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the public needs more information about last week's Medical Mart agreement. Bill Callahan also has questions.

Cuyahoga County and Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc. reached a tentative agreement to develop a Medical Mart in Cleveland. Full details were not revealed, but MMPI will contribute $20 million and operate the Medical Mart and new convention center. The complex should open in about three years.

The Medical Mart and convention center will be located in downtown Cleveland, and the County Commissioners will select a location in a month or two. The existing Convention Center and Tower City Center are considered the front-runners. The Greater Cleveland Partnership will hire a convention center expert to assist with site selection. Steven Litt says that the process should have public input and oversight.

Officials from Merchandise Mart Properties were in Cleveland yesterday to update the company's proposal to operate the proposed Medical Mart in Cleveland. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "it is imperative that both sides work hard to resolve their remaining differences". The Thursday deadline remains in place.

At the request of the Fund For Our Economic Future, NorTech hired a consultant to assess its mission. NorTech President Dorothy Baunach said she expects that they are "going to be tweaking the model rather than totally dissolving it or disassembling it".

Today the Cleveland City Planning Commission approved the demolition of the remaining buildings on the site of the planned Flats east bank development, and also approved the relocation of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to a new site north of East 55th Street. Steven Litt suggests that the Port's move "could create immediate pressure on the city and the port to allow downtown corporations to abandon the business core for sites on the waterfront."

Update: Bradley Fink of the Design Rag has similar concerns.

The Community Partnership for Arts and Culture will hold a day-long event titled "From Rust Belt to Artist Belt" on May 14 at CSU's Levin College of Urban Affairs. It will be an opportunity for community development professionals to "discuss how we can re-position our region as an ideal environment for artists." The keynote speaker will be Jeremy Nowak, President and CEO of The Reinvestment Fund.

(via Art Addict)

The deadline set by the Cuyahoga County Commissioners for reaching an agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties regarding the proposed Medical Mart passed earlier this week, but the company requested and received a one week extension. The Commissioners now expect to have an answer by March 13. A pair of Cleveland councilmen, meanwhile, want the Commissioners to rescind last year's sales tax increase.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership published its 2008-2011 Strategic Plan (PDF). Among its suggestions is lobbying for funding of three major projects: the Port of Cleveland's relocation, the Opportunity Corridor in Cleveland, and a new runway for NASA's Plum Brook Station in Erie County. It also calls for closer ties with Akron.

With Rob Briggs of the GAR Foundation stepping down as chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future, David Abbott of the Gund Foundation was elected to succeed him. The fund also awarded several grants.

Cuyahoga County's self-imposed deadline for reaching an agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties is approaching. The Cuyahoga County Commissioners set a 60-day deadline in early January for completing negotiations to manage the proposed Medical Mart. They expect to know if a deal has been reached in about a week.

Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution write in a Plain Dealer op-ed that "Ohio's mantle as presidential battleground state" put it "in a political position to demand fresh solutions" for economic, educational, and urban issues.

Update: in a second Plain Dealer op-ed, Amy Hanauer of Policy Matters Ohio offers additional suggestions.

The Economist examined how major hospitals like the Cleveland Clinic have become economic drivers, and also looked at their relationships with their surrounding communities.

(via Smart Communities)

A Plain Dealer editorial about the Port Authority's proposed move concludes that "people who care about Cleveland's future must insist on a plan that allows the city to make the most of its priceless proximity to Lake Erie."

Rob Briggs of the GAR Foundation will step down as chairman of the Fund for Our Economic Future next month.

Through initiatives like the Fund for Our Economic Future, foundation grants for economic development activities in Ohio have tripled over the last decade. Foundations gave $24.6 million in grants to Ohio economic development programs in 2005.

At a public meeting yesterday, prominent Cleveland municipal and business leaders backed the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's proposed move to new facilities.

Roldo Bartimole shares his thoughts about the sale of the Ameritrust complex, Medical Mart negotiations, and Euclid Corridor reinvestment figures.

Reminder: at a public meeting this evening, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will present plans to relocate the port from downtown Cleveland to a man-made site north of East 55th Street. The meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at St. Philip Neri Community Center.

An estimated $4.3 billion in new construction has been or will be built along Euclid Avenue between Public Square and University Circle. RTA's $200 million Euclid Corridor project is serving as a catalyst for investments by developers and nonprofit organizations, and may lead to a rebirth of Cleveland's main street.

Adam Wasserman will celebrate his first year at the helm of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority on Tuesday. He has received good reviews from area political and business leaders.

On February 19, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will hold a public meeting about the Port's proposed move to a new facility north of East 55th Street.

Cities such as Cleveland, Westlake, Fairview Park, Lakewood, North Olmsted, and Avon Lake are still dealing with the withdrawal of Tops Supermarkets from Northeast Ohio in 2006.

Nearly 500 people attended the second annual "10,000 Little (micro) Ideas to Keep You Believing in Cleveland." Like last year's event, the participants shared ideas about how to make Cleveland a better city. The suggestions ranged from encouraging wind and other alternative energy to increasing inclusiveness and understanding across demographic boundaries, such as race, economics and age.

With several renovation and construction projects underway, Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone believes that "Gordon Square will be synonymous with other destinations like Soho, Dupont Circle and Greenwich Village" within ten years.

Adam Wasserman, President and CEO of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority, was the guest on this morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN. He discussed the Port's role in economic development, as well as the proposed move, lakefront greenspace, and the port's foray into containerized shipping.

Tracey Nichols, Cuyahoga County's Assistant Director for Economic Development, was hired as the City of Cleveland's new Director of Economic Development. She will start on February 11.

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development published its Annual Report (PDF). Director Paul Oyaski says it "documents the many successes achieved during 2007."

If Cuyahoga County officials are unable to reach an agreement with Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. for the development of the planned Medical Mart, the County Commissioners say that they will consider other potential partners.

Tom Jordan is North Royalton's new Director of Community Development. He previously served as the Director of Planning and Development in Lakewood, a position he held since 2004. Nathan Kelly now holds the Lakewood post.

On Friday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners set a 60-day deadline for Merchandise Mart Properties Inc. to agree to a location for the planned Medical Mart and to commit to a specific investment. A Plain Dealer editorial says the deadline is "more than fair."

Officials with the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority say that their proposed facility north of East 55th Street in Cleveland will allow the Port to accommodate containerized shipping.

The current and former mayors of North Royalton asked Ohio's senators for assistance in obtaining another extension for meeting the job creation requirements of a federal grant the City received in 1998 for the expansion of York Road industrial park. If the extension is not granted, the City may assess property owners to cover repayment of the grant.

Brian Reilly, Cleveland's Director of Economic Development, resigned today. He had been director since March 2006, and the City says he is leaving to "pursue other opportunities". Assistant Director Belinda Pesti will serve as interim director.

A press release from the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority says that the Port's planned move to an East 55th Street site should result in "expanded maritime capacity, a dynamic and accessible waterfront, and the potential redevelopment of more than 500 acres of underutilized inner-city land".

This morning, the board of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority unanimously designated a site in Lake Erie north of East 55th Street as the port's future home. Creation of the proposed 200 acre peninsula cannot proceed without approval from the City of Cleveland. Neighbors of the proposed site were not pleased by the announcement.

The Cleveland Foundation awarded $21.2 million in grants, including $3.6 million to Case Western Reserve University for the Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation, $4 million to the Fund for Our Economic Future, $525,000 to ShoreBank Enterprise Group Cleveland, and $750,000 to the Great Lakes Theater Festival for the Hanna Theatre renovations.

A team led by CSU professor Robert Simons recently completed a strategic industrial retention analysis for Bedford Heights. It says that the City should promote economic development incentives to attract and retain businesses.

Yesterday, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's maritime committee unanimously recommended moving the Port's facilities to a new 200 acre site north of East 55th Street in Cleveland. The Port's Board of Directors is scheduled to discuss the proposal on December 21.

The Gund Foundation awarded $6.5 million in grants, including $1.2 million to the Detroit Shoreway Community Development Organization for the Gordon Square Arts District and $1 million to University Circle Incorporated for the Bring Back Euclid Avenue campaign. The Foundation also gave $300,000 to Shorebank Enterprise Group Cleveland and $70,000 to Entrepreneurs for Sustainability.

At a press conference today, officials from Merchandise Mart Properties said that they have narrowed their list of potential Medical Mart sites from 13 to three: a downtown location, a site in Midtown, and one near University Circle. Local leaders prefer a downtown location for the Medical Mart and convention center. The Greater Cleveland Partnership posted the slides from the press conference.

Update: the GCP also provided audio of the event.

The Fund for Our Economic Future will provide $2.1 million to Team NEO over the next two years. The grant will cover about a third of Team NEO's budget in 2008 and 2009.

The Plain Dealer reports that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority narrowed its list of potential relocation sites to two: a man-made island north of Whiskey Island and a man-made site north of East 55th Street, and they appear to favor the East 55th Street site.

The City of Brooklyn created a new part-time position for an economic development director. In Streetsboro, Planning Director Linda Kovacs will have to step down because she does not meet new job qualifications recently approved by voters in a charter amendment.

Last week, WCPN examined regionalism and spoke with local leaders, took a look at Louisville's model, and recapped Thursday's episode of Ideas. The station also had outgoing Mayors Michael Ciaravino of Maple Heights and Judy Rawson of Shaker Heights as guests on The Sound of Ideas, where among other topics, they spoke out against business poaching and tax abatement.

Another Sound of Ideas show earlier in the week was devoted to a discussion of the Brookings Institution's new Blueprint for American Prosperity, with guests Bruce Katz, Ed Morrison, and Mark Rosentraub.

WKYC's Tom Beres interviewed attorney Fred Nance about his negotiations with Merchandise Mart Properties on the planned Cleveland Medical Mart. Nance is Cuyahoga County's chief negotiator in the talks.

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution identify some of the shortcomings of American urban policy, while Joe Frolik of the Plain Dealer examines why political candidates have been neglecting metropolitan issues. Both columns point to the Brookings Institution's new Blueprint for American Prosperity for answers.

Yesterday, the Brookings Institution rolled out the Blueprint for American Prosperity, the latest initiative from its Metropolitan Policy Program. It will "promote an economic agenda for the nation that builds on the assets" of America's metropolitan areas. Data presented (PDF) in conjunction with the introduction of the initiative says that the Cleveland metropolitan area generates 22.5% of Ohio's GDP with 18.5% of the state's population.

The rent subsidy program proposed for downtown Bedford received mixed reviews from downtown business owners.

The Economist used Flint and Cleveland as examples of cities where "a faint spirit of change is wafting through some of the rustbelt's grimmest streets."

(via CEOs for Cities)

Yesterday, a group of political and business leaders gathered to support Issue 14, the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's renewal levy. If approved, it will generate $3.2 million per year for the next five years.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the new convention center and the Medical Mart belongs in downtown Cleveland, and not near University Circle.

As in 2005, local leaders are focusing their plans for a new convention center on two downtown Cleveland locations, a site near Tower City Center and the existing Convention Center. Officials with Merchandise Mart Properties are interested in exploring University Circle as a site for the convention center and Medical Mart.

Bedford officials are considering a rent subsidy program aimed at attracting new businesses to downtown Bedford.

Maple Heights City Council may hire Cleveland State professor Robert Simons to conduct a study that would identify opportunities for economic development brought by the expansion of the Norfolk Southern intermodal terminal.

The relocation study being conducted for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority identified a short list of three preferred sites for a possible move of the Port of Cleveland: a site along the west breakwall, a site at the northeast end of Burke Lakefront Airport, and a site site north of the East 55th Street marina. The new facility could be built on land created with Cuyahoga River dredge material.

University Circle Incorporated has raised nearly half of its $7 million target for the Bring Back Euclid Avenue campaign. UCI is also celebrating its 50th anniversary.

A consultant told Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority officials that the port has "some potential" to handle container shipping. Most container traffic is handled by ports on the East and West Coasts, but those facilities are nearing capacity.

A review of Northeast Ohio's economy by Team NEO found that the region's economy experienced modest growth over the last 15 years. The average growth of 2% per year lagged behind the national average of 3–3.5% growth. A Plain Dealer editorial says the report reminds us "how critical work force development and investment are for Ohio."

Last week, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners officially dissolved the dormant Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Authority, and is using its budget in an attempt to hire attorney Fred Nance to represent the county in Medical Mart and convention center negotiations.

North Royalton officials will request another extension for meeting job creation requirements in a grant the City received for the York Road industrial park. The City will have to repay the grant if it is unable to obtain the extension.

At a meeting with state officials, Northeast Ohio economic development experts shared their dissatisfaction with the funding formulas for the Ohio Job Ready Sites program, which they say encourage urban sprawl.

Crain's Cleveland Business examined the Medical Forum in Birmingham, Alabama, an unsuccessful attempt in the early 1990s to establish a medical showroom facility similar to the planned Medical Mart in Cleveland.

An earlier agreement with a consulting firm collapsed, so Walton Hills Village Council reopened its search for economic development assistance.

Channel 3 reports that one of the sites being considered for the Cleveland Medical Mart is the Cleveland Trust Tower in downtown Cleveland. It could replace the plans to demolish the tower for a new Cuyahoga County administration building.

The Plain Dealer compared Cuyahoga County's decision to use a sales tax increase to pay for a new convention center with funding mechanisms employed by other cities.

NASA has approved the $150 million redesign of the NASA Glenn Research Center. The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority will be the master developer overseeing the 20-year program that will transform the facility.

University Circle and Little Italy can be transformed by RTA's new E. 120th Street rapid station, according to Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer.

The Brookings Institution marked the start of the annual Great Lakes Restoration Conference in Chicago by releasing a cost-benefit analysis of the Great Lakes Regional Collaboration Strategy. It concludes that a $26 billion investment in Great Lakes restoration would yield a $50 billion long-term economic benefit and between $30 and $50 billion in short term multiplier benefits.

(Update: The Detroit News offers additional details.)

Adam Wasserman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority appeared on Sunday's Between the Lines on Channel 3 to talk about the Port's new strategic plan.

If North Royalton officials are unable to generate about 100 low- to moderate-paying jobs at the York Road industrial park, the City may need to return a $181,597 CDBG grant it received in 1998.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership established and named chairs for four advisory committees to guide planning efforts for the Cleveland Medical Mart. They are the Industry Advisory Group, the Education and Workforce Development Advisory Group, the Community Development & Inclusion Advisory Group, and the Site Selection Group.

(Update: the Site Selection Group intends to recommend a site by the end of the year.)

About 80 people attended a public hearing on the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's proposed strategic plan last night. The plan has received a generally favorable response, but watchdogs continue to encourage the Port Authority to operate with increased transparency. The Port Authority will accept public comments on the plan until September 14.

The 2007 Dashboard of Economic Indicators reports that Northeast Ohio's economic growth was again below national averages. The research was performed by Cleveland State University and funded by the Fund for Our Economic Future. They expect that "it will take at least a decade to see significant signs of economic improvement, particularly as measured by per capita income and job growth."

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority's new strategic plan provides "a worthy goal for an organization whose board and former leader were defending themselves, just a year ago, against charges that the Port Authority was too secretive and unaccountable."

A News-Herald editorial praises a new regional economic development strategy for Lake County. "The vision is a regional focus that puts the good of the county equal to individual cities, townships and villages."

(via Advance Northeast Ohio)

With a new baseball stadium under construction in Washington, D.C., Washington Post columnist Marc Fisher used Jacobs Field as an example of a stadium that did not catalyze development in the area surrounding it.

In an editorial, the Plain Dealer expresses optimism about the future of Euclid Avenue. "The good news, obscured by the dust of the Euclid Corridor's construction these last three years, is that the first seeds of revival are not only being sown, but they're also taking root."

Cleveland Chief of Regional Development Chris Warren outlined several ambitious ideas that the City is considering to encourage regional progress. He plans to present a formal economic development strategy in October.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority released a draft of a new strategic plan (PDF) yesterday. Among other objectives, it calls for the port to expand from its existing 130 acres to at least 200 acres. A public hearing on the plan will be held on August 29 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Tri-C's Unified Technologies Center on Woodland Avenue in Cleveland.

Brooklyn Heights' leaders plan to use the Cuyahoga Valley, the Village's central location, and the Towpath Trail (including the West Creek Greenway) as the linchpins of the Village's redevelopment plans.

A a press conference this morning, 40 Cuyahoga County mayors endorsed the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart. WCPN examined the announcement and the recent Merchandise Mart tour. Significant negotiations are on hold while officials wait for results of the petition drive being mounted by opponents of the sales tax increase.

Merchandise Mart Properties is considering 13 possible locations for the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart, but company officials declined to identify the sites. Yesterday, a group of Cleveland business and labor leaders, government officials, and media members toured the Merchandise Mart in Chicago. Meanwhile, the Free Times attempted to determine if the projections identified by Medical Mart supporters are realistic.

NASA Glenn Research Center and the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority reached a memorandum of understanding for the development of a land use plan for the 350 acre NASA campus.

The Plain Dealer reprinted a 2002 piece by the late Richard Shatten on the obstacles to progress in Greater Cleveland, and noted that it "is as relevant today as it was five years ago."

Friday's City Club talk about the proposed Medical Mart is now available as a podcast (MP3, 19.7 MB). It featured Fred Nance, Dennis Roche, and Baiju Shah. Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove discussed the Medical Mart proposal with Tom Beres of Channel 3.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority placed a 0.13 mill property tax renewal levy on the November ballot. The current levy will expire at the end of 2008.

Yesterday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners held a second public hearing on the proposed sales tax increase to fund the construction of a new convention center to compliment the proposed Medical Mart. Following the meeting, the Commissioners voted 2-1 to raise the sales tax by a quarter percent for 20 years. A group of politicians and citizens responded by starting a petition drive to force a voter referendum on the increase. Cleveland.com compiled some reactions from area bloggers, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that the Commissioners "made the correct but politically difficult vote".

Brownfields remediation was completed at the 24.6 acre site of the planned new CMHA headquarters in Cleveland's Forgotten Triangle, and the Ohio EPA issued a covenant not to sue. Meanwhile, the Clean Ohio Council awarded $2,046,713 to the City of Cleveland for the cleanup of the 5.1 acre Morgana East site in Slavic Village.

Cuyahoga County Commissioner Peter Lawson Jones says that the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart and convention center "clearly offers great promise", but he does not support raising the sales tax to pay for their construction. Cleveland Councilman Brian Cummins also endorses the concept, but would like to explore the reuse of the existing convention center site and "less burdensome" tax options. The second public hearing on the proposed sales tax increase will be held tomorrow morning, and following the hearing, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners plan to vote on the proposal.

A Plain Dealer editorial and Joe Roman of the Greater Cleveland Partnership both assert that the proposed Cuyahoga County sales tax increase is the only viable option for funding the construction of a new convention center.

About 300 people attended yesterday's public hearing on the proposed sales tax increase to fund the construction of a new convention center that would accompany the proposed Cleveland Medical Mart. Chris Kennedy of Merchandise Mart Properties told them that Cleveland should move quickly to avoid competing proposals from other cities. WKYC has video of the 40 minute presentation.

The City Club will host a session about the Medical Mart proposal on August 3, and Scott Suttell of Crain's Cleveland Business wonders "why the city's power brokers are so allergic to free-wheeling debate." Today, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners announced that the proposed ¼% sales tax increase would expire in 20 years and that its revenues would be used exclusively for the new convention center.

Proponents of a Cleveland arts district described their visions at the City Club yesterday.

(Update: Audio of the session (MP3, 20.4 MB) is now available.)

Yesterday, the Plain Dealer published op-eds from Merchandise Mart Properties President Christopher Kennedy and Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove as well as an editorial promoting the Cleveland Medical Mart and convention center proposal.

(Update: Tuesday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN featured three advocates of the Medical Mart.)

In his talk at the City Club yesterday, University Circle Incorporated President Chris Ronayne outlined the organization's 7 campaigns for 2007.

(Update: the talk is now available online (MP3, 20.4 MB))

A Plain Dealer editorial says that the City of Cleveland's plan to offer loans to stimulate the redevelopment of buildings on lower Euclid Avenue "is ingenious because Cleveland's investment will buttress a combination of other development and incentives already at work in that zone."

Merchandise Mart Properties added additional material to their website for the proposed Cleveland medical mart, including video of Chris Kennedy presenting the concept.

Greater Cleveland Partnership Chairman Fred Nance will lead negotiations with Merchandise Mart Properties and Forest City Enterprises or another developer aimed at bringing the proposed medical mart to Cleveland.

The Brunswick Area Chamber of Commerce wants to establish a special improvement district along the Pearl Road corridor in Brunswick and Brunswick Township. They hope to revitalize the area by attracting new businesses and residents, and making it more pedestrian friendly.

The City Club will host a two part series titled "The Changing Face of Cleveland". The first talk, on July 11, will be about University Circle and will feature Chris Ronayne. The second talk will be about arts districts and will be held one week later. The speakers will be Dan Cuffaro, Ned Hill, and Matt Zone.

The City of Cleveland plans to capitalize on the Euclid Corridor project and encourage reinvestment in lower Euclid Avenue by offering loans to aid in the redevelopment five mostly-vacant buildings. The recipients have not been identified, but the City has a working list of eight potential properties.

Roldo Bartimole feels that the people who would profit from the construction of a medical mart and a new convention center should pay for it, and also laments the Cleveland City Planning Commission's decision on the Cleveland Trust Tower. The Plain Dealer and Channel 3 present additional details about the vote to demolish the downtown skyscraper.

Recent Plain Dealer editorials say that "Greater Cleveland would benefit tremendously" from an expansion of the Continental Airlines hub at Cleveland Hopkins Airport, that the new Presidents' Council report on regionalism and equity is a "reminder that one of the most important goals of regional cooperation should be to improve the lives of as many people as possible," and that the planned Chagrin Falls arts district should make the Village "even more irresistible."

In a Plain Dealer op-ed, Bruce Katz and Jennifer Vey of the Brookings Institution offer a "practical idea for Ohio: Strive to attract at least 2 percent of each metropolitan area's population to live in traditional downtowns."

WKSU provides more details about the Chagrin Foundation for Arts & Culture and their plans to create an arts district in Chagrin Falls.

The Plain Dealer explored how the Merchandise Mart concept operates in Chicago, and asked if the proposed medical mart could work in Cleveland. Also, Merchandise Mart Properties, Inc.'s presentation about the proposed downtown Cleveland development is available online.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson supports the proposed sales tax increase to attract the proposed medical mart and build a corresponding new convention center, while a Plain Dealer editorial says that local leaders must persuade the public of the idea's value. This morning's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN was devoted to a debate about the proposal.

(Update: WCPN distilled the discussion into a short piece.)

Steven Litt of the Plain Dealer describes several catalytic redevelopment efforts underway in Cleveland's Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. "After decades of urban husbandry in housing and retail, the district is about to gain critical mass."

PCB contamination was discovered at the former Trinity Building site on Detroit Avenue, a brownfield property that is now in the City of Cleveland's industrial land bank. The situation may force City officials to change their plans for redeveloping the site.

The newly formed Chagrin Foundation for Arts & Culture announced plans to establish an arts and entertainment district in downtown Chagrin Falls. They established a partnership with the Chautauqua Institution of New York, and proposed renovating the historic Township Hall as the centerpiece of the five-block district.

(Update: WCPN offers more details.)

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners are creating a $13 million commercial redevelopment loan fund to promote the redevelopment of vacant commercial buildings. The program will be targeted at development in the City of Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs.

(Update: a Department of Development press release presents more information.)

Bruce Katz's May 29 talk at the City Club about the Brookings Institution Restoring Prosperity report is available as audio (MP3, 19.4 MB) and as text.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority hired John Martin Associates to conduct a 12 week, $75,000 study on potential container cargo traffic and the amount of land and investment it would require.

A Plain Dealer editorial encourages the Strickland administration to follow the advice of the recent Brookings Institution report, and concludes, "The state must not forget its enormous role in Cleveland's economy."

The Cleveland Economic Development Department hired Virginia Carlson as deputy director for research, outreach, and marketing.

The latest County Business Patterns release from the US Census Bureau says that the number of businesses in the US grew by 6% between 2000 and 2005, but that Cuyahoga County lost 3.4% of its businesses over the same period. Some local economic development experts assert that the report would look rosier if it included more recent data. Cleveland.com illustrates the numbers with an infographic and an interactive map.

WKSU provides additional coverage of Bruce Katz's talk at the City Club.

Yesterday, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners approved two $20,000 grants to create Innovation Zones in Beachwood and Mayfield Village.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution spoke about the new Restoring Prosperity report at the City Club this afternoon, and said, "If we want to grow sustainably, we need (state government) to connect the dots between transportation, land-use, and economic development."

(Update: at the same talk, Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher said that major cities and inner-ring suburbs will be given the first opportunities in Ohio's economic development programs.)

The Brookings Institution's latest report, "Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America's Older Industrial Cities", is intended to "mobilize governors and legislative leaders, as well as local constituencies, behind an asset-oriented agenda for reinvigorating the market in the nation's older industrial cities." Brewed Fresh Daily links to additional media coverage.

(Update: The Brookings Institution also released a related profile of Ohio (PDF), and Tuesday's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN discussed the report with author Jennifer Vey, Lavea Brachman of Greater Ohio, CSU Professor Ned Hill, and Brad Whitehead of the Cleveland Foundation.)

The Parma Sun Post profiles the efforts of southwest Cuyahoga County communities to increase their tax bases by promoting retail, office, and industrial development.

Bruce Katz of the Brookings Institution and Ohio Lieutenant Governor Lee Fisher will speak at the City Club on May 29 at noon. They will talk about "Restoring Prosperity: The State Role in Revitalizing America's Older Industrial Cities", an economic study of 65 cities that will be released on May 20. On May 29 at 2:00, Bruce Katz will speak at a Levin College Forum on the same subject, which will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Ned Hill.

The City of Cleveland Heights posted the market analysis and feasibility study (PDF) that was prepared to assess land use alternatives for the Top of the Hill property at Cedar Hill. The study will be presented at two public meetings next month.

(via FutureHeights)

The City of South Euclid selected Orion Capital Partners of Little Rock, Arkansas to redevelop the north side of the Cedar Center shopping strip. The company offered $17 million for the property, and wants to redevelop it as a retail/residential mixed-use project. The company has 45 days to reach a deal with the City, which will require City Council approval.

Ford's decision to close the Cleveland Casting plant in Brook Park will result in the loss of 1,200 jobs in 2009, but it also may offer economic development opportunities. The plant is the third-largest emitter of volatile organic compounds in Greater Cleveland, and Ford can sell the plant's pollution rights. Former Ohio EPA Director Joesph Koncelik wants the agency to establish an emissions trading program.

Cuyahoga County Probate Judge John Donnelly ruled against a group of Cedar Center tenants who sought to keep the City of South Euclid from acquiring the northern half of the shopping center. The City will purchase the property for $16.4 million and select one of the four developers interested in redeveloping it as a mixed-use project.

Yesterday, Charter One Bank announced that it was adding new programs to its UPtown Initiative. The effort was launched last spring, and is aimed at investing $150 million in University Circle and its surrounding neighborhoods over a three year period.

A group of nine suburban mayors from across Cuyahoga County agreed to support a regionalism effort. The plans have not been drafted, but will not call for municipal consolidation, and will recommend the formation of new countywide economic development agency.

Officials at the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority think that the rapid growth in international container cargo traffic may outstrip the capacity of ports on the East and West coasts. One of the reasons the Port Authority's relocation study was delayed was to obtain expert opinion on Cleveland's prospects for increased trade.

In a Plain Dealer editorial, Christopher Knopf of the Trust for Public Land explains the organization's vision for Cleveland, which includes improving public access to Lake Erie. He states that Northeast Ohio's natural spaces are a vital part of the region's quality of life, which in turn is a major factor in business location decisions.

Governing Executive Editor Alan Ehrenhalt was "surprisingly optimistic" in his talk at Cleveland State yesterday about the future of downtowns. "The single most important development in American cities in the last five years is downtown living."

WKYC's Tom Beres interviewed Sam Miller about his push for a Cuyahoga County unified government, and Cool Cleveland's Thomas Mulready interviewed Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future on the launch of Advance Northeast Ohio: QuickTime (5.4 MB), Windows Media (8.5 MB).

This morning's Sound of Ideas show on WCPN was devoted to a discussion of the new Advance Northeast Ohio action plan. The guests were Brad Whitehead of the Fund for Our Economic Future, Tom Waltermire of Team NEO, and Andrew Jackson of the Greater Cleveland Commission on Economic Inclusion.

More than 250 Northeast Ohio civic leaders attended this morning's official unveiling of the Advance Northeast Ohio plan. The four-pronged action plan is aimed at improving the regional economy. The plan's website also launched, and the frequently-updated site features the action plan, news, multimedia, and information on initiatives for 2007.

Six developers spoke to a crowd of around 1,000 young professionals at the House of Blues last night in a Professionals in the City event. The event generated mixed reviews.

A Plain Dealer editorial says that local leaders need to commit to the strategies identified in Advance Northeast Ohio. "Northeast Ohio's leaders and residents must work together on all four areas. And they must do so with a sense of urgency."

The Ohio Senate passed Senate Bill 24, which changes the rules of the Ohio Job Ready Sites program so that applicants in certain counties cannot excluded from applying for grants. Earlier rules included a minimum property requirement size that prevented urbanized counties from competing.

Advance Northeast Ohio, a regional economic action plan that is an outgrowth of the Voices & Choices project, will be officially unveiled at a kickoff meeting on Friday morning at the Knight Center in Akron. It will focus on four areas: growing businesses, preparing the work force, improving opportunities for minority-owned companies, and making government more efficient.

(via Brewed Fresh Daily)

Two tenants in the north side of the Cedar Center shopping center are in court this week, challenging the City of South Euclid's plans for a mixed-use redevelopment of the site. Judge John Donnelly toured the property yesterday.

Completion of the port study being conducted by URS Corp. for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority has been pushed back from February to this summer.

The Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority adopted a new disclosure policy, and board members will voluntarily disclose their sources of income and real estate holdings to the Ohio Ethics Commission. A Plain Dealer editorial says they did the right thing, "even if they were all but dragged into doing it."

The Cleveland.com Young Professionals weblog recaps the "10,000 Little (micro) Ideas to Keep You Believing In Cleveland" event held by the Cleveland Professionals 20/30 Club (PDF) last week. Follow-up discussions will be held throughout 2007.

The High-Tech Sector in Northeast Ohio (PDF), a baseline report prepared for NorTech by Cleveland State's Center for Economic Development, found that between 2000 and 2005, high-tech employment in the 21 county region fell by 23,735 jobs, a 12.1% loss. At the same time, productivity increased by 7.5%. NorTech plans to have the report updated annually.

(Update: An Akron Beacon Journal editorial says that the region must "continue to embrace a high-tech economy.")

The Cuyahoga County Commissioners created the Cuyahoga Innovation Zones program, based on a recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Economic Development Task Force. The program is intended to encourage economic innovation through building on the region's institutional and industrial strengths. Applications for the pilot program are due on March 30, 2007.

Four developers have expressed an interest in redeveloping the South Euclid side of Cedar Center. The City should take ownership of the properties around March 12, and officials expect to choose a firm in two or three weeks.

The Lake County Commissioners yesterday voted to create a port authority for the County. It will exclude the four Lake County communities that had previously established their own port authorities.

At a Cleveland State forum yesterday, RTA introduced its Transit Oriented Design guidelines. They are seeking partners to develop three properties on Euclid Avenue as TOD projects.

A Plain Dealer editorial urges the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority to adopt a financial disclosure policy for board members. "If board members expect the public to continue passing levies that support port operations, they should require disclosure of all financial interests they hold in the region the port serves."

By a vote of 2-1, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners reappointed John Carney to the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority board after he voluntarily filed a financial disclosure statement. Commissioner Dimora dissented, citing his disagreement with Carney's stance on Whiskey Island. Earlier this week, Frank Jackson appointed Robert C. Smith of Spero-Smith Investment Advisers Inc. to the Port Authority board, replacing Sterling Glover.

Euclid City Council President Ed Gudenas has proposed two options to encourage development in the southeast quadrant of the City. The first is the creation of an incentive zone that would give a .85% income tax rebate to companies that are willing to develop properties in that area. The second involves establishing a tax increment financing district.

Last month, state officials approved the creation of five Community Reinvestment Areas in Shaker Heights. Residents in the CRAs are eligible for 75% tax abatements for eight years when investing at least $80,000 in home repairs, and in four of the CRAs, new single-family houses over $200,000 are eligible for 75% tax abatements for five years.

In light of the recent debate about the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority and conflicts of interest, the Cuyahoga County Commissioners asked the Ohio General Assembly to expand financial disclosure rules to cover Port Authority board members and other appointed officials who receive taxpayer salaries.

Local business leaders and real estate executives are meeting to discuss the Cleveland District of Design proposal. A Plain Dealer editorial says that "at least five companies have quietly committed to set up shop in the district-to-be."

The Cuyahoga County Department of Development published an Economic Development Assistance Handbook (PDF), an overview of the department's programs for residents, businesspeople, and developers.

(via the Cleveland Law Library)

On Tuesday's Sound of Ideas program on WCPN, Frank Jackson shared his thoughts on the Cleveland redevelopment strategy, capital improvement plan, and tax abatement policy. Also appearing on the show were Becky Gaylord of the Plain Dealer, Jay Miller of Crain's Cleveland Business, and Ward 11 Councilman Mike Polensek.

A Plain Dealer editorial refers to Frank Jackson's new capital improvement plan as "a down payment on a huge, long-term investment," and says he will have to convince people that the plan is worthwhile.

This week's Cool Cleveland includes a video interview with Dan Cuffaro and Ned Hill about their concept for the Cleveland District of Design: QuickTime (17.8 MB), Windows Media (25.8 MB).

Frank Jackson unveiled his redevelopment priorities at a press conference yesterday, where he released a Strategy for Development and Revitalization and a $1.6 billion capital improvement plan. The documents identify specific recommendations for each of Cleveland's 36 neighborhoods, including rehabilitating or demolishing abandoned houses, adding bicycle lanes, building a pedestrian bridge at North Coast Harbor, and reconfiguring the traffic circle at East 105th Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.

The entire Strategy (PDF, 10.8 MB), an executive summary (PDF), and the Capital Projects Database (PDF) are posted at the City's website. Audio (MP3) and video of the press conference are available.

Developer John Carney has come under criticism for his dual roles as a downtown property owner and as chairman of the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Port Authority. Although Port Authority board members are not required to file financial disclosure statements, Carney has recused himself from voting on Flats east bank eminent domain decisions in order to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

After opting not to hire an economic development officer, North Olmsted City Council is considering contracting with an economic development firm to supply consulting services.

South Euclid City Council unanimously voted to issue up to $17 million in bonds for the purchase of the north side of Cedar Center. Some storeowners remain opposed to deal, and the City is continuing to negotiate with developers.

The Akron Beacon Journal toured the Charter One Global Enterprise Center in downtown Cleveland and spoke with the leaders of some of the economic development organizations it houses.

Planned renovations to the Capitol Theatre, the construction of a new home for Near West Theatre, and the existing Cleveland Public Theatre will serve as anchors for the Gordon Square Cultural Arts District. Cleveland Councilman Matt Zone calls it Detroit Shoreway's "single most important economic development project" in nearly 90 years.

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