Northeast Ohio community leaders are gathering at Cleveland State University, Wednesday, to strategize ways to bring a new class of educated professionals to town. ideastream's David C. Barnett has more on what's being called the Global Cleveland Summit.
The summit actually kicked off last night at Cleveland City Hall, where partiers packed the rotunda, while the music of Africa and several other continents echoed off of the old marble walls. But now, the party is over and this morning at CSU, many of those revelers are brainstorming ways to promote economic development by making the Cleveland area a more global place.
The idea is to renew a flame first sparked a century ago, when immigrant groups from Europe and African Americans from the South came here to fill the factory jobs of a bustling economy. But, when many of those factories closed, Northeast Ohio became a much less attractive place. Baiju Shah, who heads the Global Cleveland effort, says the last decade has seen several attempts to put the welcome mat back out.
BAIJU SHAH: There have been a number of community groups that have been interested in the topic of bringing newcomers to Cleveland --- helping newcomers find their footing in our region and become citizens of Cleveland, whether those newcomers are immigrants or are from other places in the United States.
In the past couple of years, there has been a great deal of talk about attracting so-called "talented immigrants" to enlist their entrepreneurial skills, and help boost the local economy. But Shah says that now the focus is more on "talent" --- be it foreign born or home grown. Global Cleveland wants to bring back some of the "brains" that have "drained" from our region due to a perceived lack of opportunities. Shah cites state statistics that there are over 20,000 jobs available right now in Cuyahoga County in the fields of healthcare, I.T. and financial services. Today's planning groups at Cleveland State are looking to target the people who can fill those positions.