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Gary mentioned the PeeD article Desiree is referring to at the 3rd Fri Friends Lunch today:

Who is fostering that sentiment? The people commenting for the article? The firms that are supposed to be fostering business in Cleveland?

You are telling us as entrepreneurs that we must suck? Because you need to go elsewhere to find brain gain?

I’m a little salty and pissed off. No one has helped me with my business. These firms say I don’t fit their target audience??? So my business is self funded and operates on its own. I have no credit. I have no mentor. In fact, I have no support systems. So when rain storms like today flood my shop? Oh yeah. It’s me who has to fix it AND keep the money flowing.

How about catering to the talent that has chosen to stay on in this hardship we know as Cleveland? Where is the support and funding for those pioneers or hangers on? I’ve been told countless times to move my Concierge Service to Portland, L.A., D.C., etc. I’ve been offered funding by investors to relocate to another city… But I choose to stay here…

And how about not insulting us when you haven’t done your homework to know who is out here standing behind Cleveland and might I say… kicking a$$…

Apparently, there’s a press conference about this soon. I need to connect Desiree and Gary…

The search for Entrepreneurs | REALNEO for all

Last 5 posts by George Nemeth

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8 Responses to “Time to stop looking elsewhere”

  1. Betsey Merkel Says:

    Here was my Tweet on that article…

    12/18/08: Cognitive and Ocular Disconnect: NEO EconDev leaders and [their] costly erroneous decisions.The crime: failing to invest in local.

  2. Jim Russell Says:

    I don’t understand the apparent rancor. However, the dearth of “seasoned entrepreneurs” plagues a lot of places. From what I am hearing, it is a big problem in Pittsburgh. That’s not necessarily a jab at the local startup scene. There are more worthy ideas than there are people who can bring them to market.

    What’s wrong with bringing experience to Cleveland to grow local business?

  3. Shannon Okey Says:

    What’s wrong with bringing experience to Cleveland to grow local business? Well, for one thing, as I noted over at the original post, there are more than enough people here with businesses (or ideas, for that matter) who couldn’t get a loan to save their life locally, which is why we all end up bootstrapping our own way to profitability. Our shop was in the black from day 1 and yet not a bank in the world would give us a loan to grow further. We don’t need outsiders, we need local support, and we need politicians who don’t raise our sales taxes for pie in the sky nonsense like the Medical Mart, etc etc etc.

    I came back to Cleveland because I’m originally from here. I can’t imagine having chosen Cleveland out of all the places I could have moved if not — look at our corrupt politicians, look at our overly conservative social mores (as a heterosexual domestic partner who doesn’t profess any particular religion, I am OFFENDED at the intrusion of church officials into the political process in regards to the recently-passed domestic partner registry, for example), look at a lot of things…

    What we do have going for us — a low cost of living — could and should lure plenty of creative businesspeople if we weren’t so damned backward in the social issues arena, and if we were willing to support our locally-grown talent BEFORE the lure of another city becomes too strong.

  4. Ed Morrison Says:

    Recruiting talent makes some sense, and a number regions around the country are focused on this type of strategy. See, for example, the St. Louis strategy here:

    In 2007, a task force in the Mahoning Valley issued a report on brain gain:

    It seems to me, though, that two misconceptions run through the newspaper article. We can call the first the Myth of the Sole Entrepreneur. It is the notion that companies are built by inspired individuals.

    In reality, entrepreneurship is a collaborative enterprise. Civic networks play a far more important role in launching and sustaining early-stage companies.

    The reason is clear. Entrepreneurs build companies from resources they don’t control. They need networks, trusted collaborations, to locate and align these resources quickly. In my view, Cleveland needs to work on building these type of networks.

    That leads me to the second misconception. One of the executives at TeamNEO is quoted in the article sang the changing attitudes within the region will be extremely expensive. This assumes that you can change attitudes through advertising. It won’t work. Pumping more money into Cleveland+ is not the answer.

    In fact, changing attitudes and behavior can happen relatively quickly and at a relatively low cost. We are seeing this kind of change taking place right now in in places like Milwaukee, Fort Wayne, Toledo, Western Michigan, Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo.

    A final point: one of the major problems that NEO leaders will encounter as they try to recruit talent is a relatively shallow pool of first and second stage companies in the region.

    Professional talent, especially younger managerial talent, will be concerned about having relatively few options in the region. (We encountered this challenge in Charleston, South Carolina as we built the pool of managerial talent in the late 1990s.)

  5. lmcshane Says:

    Knitgrrl–NEO needs you and more like you. And as you say, the only thing going for Cleveland is a low cost of living. I recently met some of the young blood working their way through graduate school at CASE. Most work in the non-profit sector and they were appalled by the condescending attitude of this sector in Cleveland. We should be working to retain these young, energetic people to rebuild our city and yet we treat them like chattel. The City of Cleveland should be seizing houses from the banks and turning them over to entrepeneurs/artists like you and to employees of institutions within the City of Cleveland ..Thanks for saying it like it is.

  6. Shannon Okey Says:

    Thanks. I’d almost forgotten about this particular gem until now, too:

    and then yesterday, CPAC sent out their Rust Belt to Artist Belt white paper. The only thing white about it, I think, is the salt they’re rubbing in… which led to this wee outburst on my personal blog:

    Or, shorter version, as I tweeted today: “Nonprofits have more money to waste than the Big Three these days!” So much for civic involvement in developing creative capital, the best they can do is develop catchy acronyms, there wasn’t one single artist interview referenced in the paper’s 133 endnotes!

  7. J Murray Says:

    It’s not just about recruiting talent or retaining talent; it’s also about the environmental conditions that foster or stifle entrepreneurship. In addition to the socials issues some of you have mentioned, tax policy makes a difference. Ohio remains one of the highest tax states in the country to do business in or of which to be a resident. It’s not as bad, yet, as New York or California, but if we want to attract and retain entrepreneurs we should be going in the opposite direction.

    In particular, state income tax as applied to capital gains when an entrepreneur sells a company is a big problem. The first thing an entrepreneur in Ohio does when selling a company is to establish Florida residence to avoid this tax. This drives capital and talent away. The sale of a company represents the result of years of hard work and should be treated as a savings plan, rather than as income.

  8. Ed Morrison Says:


    If you want to address the tax issue, help move the business community to accelerate government innovation. The cost structure of government drives tax rates.

    One step: Press for more audits. In Missouri, the State Auditor is examining city government department by department.

    In a report released yesterday, for example, she found lax hiring practices in the city’s Treasurer’s Office.

    Thusfar, even very modest efforts to address Cleveland’s culture of cronyism and corruption have failed. Cleveland’s business leadership has been sadly silent on the issue, so the old patterns persist.

    In my view, the business leadership cannot have it both ways: complain about high tax rates and then fall silent when the spotlight turns to the self-dealing connections that characterize this town’s political arrangements.