Armond Budish on Job Training, Venture Capital and Blight
UPDATED: Hear ideastream's extended interview with Armond Budish.
BUDISH: "Employers are telling us they can’t find employees with the right skills and training to fill those jobs. What we need to do is make sure that we better align the education and training with the jobs that are open. And that’s something that the county can help with in terms of being a convener, bringing together the employers that have the openings with Tri-C and the vocational schools and the K-12 schools and the labor apprenticeship programs."
CASTELE: "Taking a look at a different issue, MetroHealth, the county-owned hospital is planning major renovations over the next few years…what kind of commitment in terms of money do you think the county should be making for this project?"
BUDISH "...They need a new facility. Now, what we do and how we do is something that we need to take a good look at and work closely with people at Metro."
CASTELE: "And in terms of funding that expansion, should the county be selling bonds to do it? Is that something the county should be taking on a debt obligation to make sure that it happens?"
BUDISH: "Well, how we go about funding it is still something that we need to determine…Metro’s been very good at cutting its costs…and some of the subsidy that the county’s been paying over the last number of years may be able to be redirected to rebuilding the facility or paying bonds for the facility."
CASTELE: "You know, another trend that we’ve been seeing in this county…We’ve been seeing property values in Cleveland and in inner-ring suburbs falling, while…property values have all been on the rise…all outside of Cuyahoga. Is this a problem? What do you think is causing this?"
BUDISH: "One of the key issues is the blight that has hit the neighborhoods of Cleveland and the surrounding communities. We have to deal with it. County council is currently considering a proposal to create a bond issue which would then allow funds to be used to tear down the abandoned and foreclosed homes that could not be saved…The model that I like that seems to be working well is the model that’s in Slavic village…First, they are demolishing those homes that are abandoned, foreclosed that can’t be saved. Second, they are using private money to rehabilitate homes that can be saved and get them back on the market. And third, they’re working with current homeowners who are struggling at the moment to pay for their mortgage. We don’t want them to be losing their homes, so they’re working with the banks to help them retain their homes."
CASTELE: "I know you had mentioned, in your interview with the (Plain Dealer) editorial board, venture capital…It seems like a pretty big issue for a county, possibly, to take on…But I’m wondering what do you think the county could be doing to ensure that that kind of capital is available for businesses?"
BUDISH: "We are currently facing a capital crisis. We need funds to be coming into – private funds – to be coming into Northeast Ohio to support our startup businesses, and that is very important. Now, we’ve seen with the Ohio Venture Capital Authority that the state can help incentivize those private funds to come to a community. The county needs to play a role like that. And the possibility of creating our own venture capital authority is something that I think is exciting."
CASTELE: "Could you explain a little bit? What would that mean?"
BUDISH: "Well there’s different ways to do it. And I’m not prepared to give you all the details at this point, but what would happen is that the county would provide some funds, which would be matched by private companies and / or philanthropy…which would then come into Cuyahoga County to support startup businesses."
CASTELE: "This will be the first time we’ve had a transition to a new county executive. We have yet to have a county executive, though, who has served for two terms. And I wondered if that is something that you think is important for an executive to do. I know this could also be a very influential position in making one’s way to a statewide office as well. And I wondered, is that something that’s in your plans, considering a statewide office if you were to take this position as county executive?"
BUDISH: "I’m not considering anything else but running and winning and doing what I can for the county. This is a very important position...There’s a lot we can do as a county, I’m totally focused on doing that right now, and helping the people of this county succeed."