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Personal View: Region's Younger Generation is Ready to Help Attract Talent

By Andrew Stelzer, Matthew Bolden and Peter Zahirsky, Crain's Cleveland Business

In the last few years, parts of Cleveland have experienced growth and progress.

New residents are flocking to downtown Cleveland and spurring new life. Cleveland Metroparks has done wonders to clean up Edgewater Beach and create new spaces and events that are attracting people in droves. The Gordon Square, Tremont and Ohio City neighborhoods are enjoying unseen levels of attention and investment. And yet, these developments belie a troubling truth. Based on statistics presented in the report "The Two Tomorrows" by the Fund for Our Economic Future, Cleveland — and indeed all of Northeast Ohio — is still failing to attract and retain young talent. This failure lies at the heart of the region's population decline, economic stagnation and dwindling ability to compete with other cities.

In a speech to the City Club in June, Kohrman Jackson and Krantz managing partner Jon Pinney offered an analysis of competing cities' economic development models that highlighted the following action items: identify best practices, map our regional economic development systems to know who is doing what, create a strategic development plan that sets achievable goals and metrics built around innovation, and align with regional universities to share data and build a program to attract and retain those universities' graduates. Pinney mentioned the need to end turf wars and align regional organizations around solving the issues facing Northeast Ohio, including the persistently complex issue of attracting and retaining young talent. It is on this last point that we believe emerging leaders can be most helpful.

We recognize the necessity of bringing the region's business, civic and political leadership together for an honest conversation about where we are and what needs to happen, and we would argue that the conversation must include the young, diverse leaders who are already here. 

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