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Making Change: Radio Call-In Show: Image Matters

Good morning and thanks for tuning in to this special Making Change: Reinventing our Economy call-in show, "Image Matters."

We need you to put on your thinking caps this morning because our discussion today isn't necessarily about anything tangible - like a new convention center or redesigning the Euclid corridor. It's about our image as a region and how that image may affect our decisions about a new convention center or reconstruction of the Euclid corridor. We're going to talk about the image the region projects to the world and our self-perception and how those affect our economy.

How would you describe Northeast Ohio's image? Is it problematic to our growth? Has it improved over the past years or worsened? And is it something that we can control? We want to hear your opinion on the matter, and we'll be taking your calls and e-mails later in the hour. But before we do that, I want to welcome the two guests who are joining us today to discuss the image issue:

Craig James, creator and primary coordinator of the Connection Series and founder and managing partner of the consulting firm Catalyst Strategies and Kathryn Ross, Director, Northeast Ohio Regional Marketing Initiative, at the Greater Cleveland Growth Association.

Live Discussion
Craig James, Connection Series and Catalyst Strategies
Kathryn Ross, Director, Northeast Ohio Regional Marketing Initiative

Feature Story
Image Matters [View Transcript]

What do you think? Do we have an image problem here in Northeast Ohio? Is it more important to project a strong image to the world or to create a strong sense of identity for those who live here? You just listened to a story about how Ohio City's image has evolved over the years and how that's helped that neighborhood grow. Do you see any lessons that the whole region can learn from Ohio City's experience? What do you see Northeast Ohio's image to be? Is it possible to change that image? If so... what should our image be?

The following community members opinions were shared during the course of this discussion.

Joe Roman, Executive director of Cleveland Tomorrow
We're seeing how easy it is for companies and ideas to be mobile and move not only around the country but around the world. And therefore regions are constantly competing on a variety of different levels, for companies for investments, for people. Therefore, how others view us, how others think about us the more positive, the more accurate, the more upbeat that image is, so much the better. [Listen]

Helen Knipe Smith, Former City Councilwoman
There has to be balance. I feel like eastern religion talking about this balance, but there has to be that balance there. Having said that I will also say that I think we too long in our planning have not been planning for Clevelanders and for people that live here. Our lakefront should be for the people who live here. [Listen]

Helen Knipe Smith, Former City Councilwoman
we think of events and market streets and of Yuppies sitting out there and drinking beer and so on and so forth...well, someone's serving that beer and making some money from that Yuppie and other neighbors are walking down that street and seeing people enjoy it. So there's a whole synergism there that really changes people's attitudes about where they live for the people living here as well as the people coming in. [Listen]

Gregory Stoup, Director of Research at the Center for Regional Economic Issues at the Weatherhead School of Business
New York and Chicago can be all things to all people but we really have to think about what we want to be. And to get there, we have to really make sure that the process is one where the community has input. You can't legislate or dictate image. We need a high degree of alignment among leaders, policymakers and the public. And i think you have to be truthful, you can't tell the world you are something you are not, they'll see right through that deception very quickly. [Listen]

Jaqueline Acho, Partner at McKinsie and Company, participent recent ideastream Quiet Crisis, about young leaders
I think that a lot of the folks in Cleveland kind of have a lower self-perception of their city than they should and that actually reflects back to people who are coming here new. [Listen]

Saddhu Johnston, Executive director of the Cleveland Green Building Coalition
Part of what I think we're missing is a real vision. Where are we going as a city. I think to me, we've got an incredible job that the administration and the neighborhoods are doing on the lakefront planning, the innerbelt..all these different things. But who are we? Are we desiginign ourselves to attract tourists? Are we designing ourselves to keep building up industry? Are we designing ourselves for us? For people that are here and that, of course, is going to attract other people. That's one thing as someone kind of new to town that we don't have a vision that gels us together. that we can all say, "hey jay, your business and my non-profit, let's find a way to build toward that." [Listen]

If you were not able to be a part of our discussion, but would like to share your opinion on this topic please go to the Speak Up! section of our website and let us hear your comments!