Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Middle Market Initiative

With middle-market companies known as “the market that moves America,” they also serve as key drivers of the Northeast Ohio economy.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership , one of the largest metro chambers in the U.S. and the leading business-support organization in the region, recognizes the imperative to better understand middle-market companies and provide them with the level of support, attention, and advocacy they need.

In 2011, GCP launched its Middle-Market Initiative to focus its resources on this highly productive segment of the marketplace. They provide resources and information to help create and sustain long-term success for Northeast Ohio's middle-market companies—about 2,400 of these companies call the metro Cleveland area home.

“Middle-market companies in our region continue to make a strong showing,” says GCP President and CEO Joe Roman, noting that more than half of the middle-market companies in the state are located in Northeast Ohio and these businesses comprise the majority of GCP’s membership. “Their resiliency and strength continue to drive our economy in a positive direction, which is why GCP is focusing its resources through our Middle-Market Initiative to address the needs of these companies.”

They’re also focused on sparking ideas and providing connections to support these companies' growth strategies and to ensure that Northeast Ohio’s middle-market companies are connected to our regional economic development agenda. Their initiative includes:

  • Connecting middle-market companies with information that can help them increase their competitiveness;
  • Strengthening relationships among the region’s middle-market executives;
  • Expanding knowledge about middle-market research and trends through a robust online Middle-Market Knowledge Center;
  • Providing programming and resources to help middle-market companies understand the marketplace and help them grow their bottom lines;

The GCP’s middle-market priorities are determined by the GCP Middle-Market Committee, currently chaired by GCP Board member Bernie Moreno, president of The Collection Auto Group , the largest luxury dealership chain in the Midwest. His company is a middle-market success story, having grown from a single dealership to a collection of 21 in less than 10 years.

“The Greater Cleveland Partnership is the conduit that connects middle-market companies in our region,” said Moreno, who discussed the importance of building and sustaining strong customer relationships before a standing-room-only audience at GCP’s 2014 Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum. “It’s important that those of us with middle-market companies are able to get together to learn and share best practices and network with other businesses to get a sense and appreciation of what everyone is going through.”

The Middle-Market Committee, which is composed of some of metro Cleveland’s leading middle-market executives, works with GCP staff to serve as a leading and trusted resource for Northeast Ohio middle-market companies by focusing on issues facing middle market companies and offering solutions to their unmet needs. In addition, the committee helps identify policy issues affecting this segment and works to develop collaborative relationships with public officials and executives here at the Center.

Committee members also serve as leaders/influencers for GCP initiatives in the middle market segment, as well as providing guidance to staff in marketing, communications, program planning, products, services and policy development including the financial and human resources necessary to implement these plans in the most cost effective manner.

With an emphasis on serving the region’s middle-market companies, the GCP Business Development Team meets regularly with Greater Cleveland businesses to gain a better understanding of their opportunities and challenges and to provide a broad range of support and resources to assist with their retention and growth.

The team has strong relationships with city, county, state, financial institutions, colleges, trade schools and economic development organizations throughout the GCP’s eight-county Northeast Ohio service area and beyond. Assistance includes:

  • Project management
  • Access to capital (loans & bonds)
  • Real estate site searches
  • Incentive program assistance
  • Workforce grants assistance

In 2014, the team helped facilitate 26 projects, which collectively led to the creation of 1,498 jobs and the retention of 1,814 existing jobs. Several projects featured large investments, leading to a combined $671 million in investment across the region.

GCP’s government advocacy priorities are critical to accelerating metro Cleveland’s full economic recovery. Guided by GCP’s 2015/2016 Public Policy Agenda, their government advocacy team’s work includes supporting middle-market companies through a heightened focus on championing policies and legislation that enhance the retention and expansion of Greater Cleveland businesses with strong growth potential.

Their advocacy priorities include continued strategic involvement with JobsOhio, a statewide, nonprofit economic development organization charged with creating new jobs and capital investment in Ohio, and mobilizing support to ensure continuation of Ohio’s Third Frontier Program, which invests in technology-based economic development throughout the state. Northeast Ohio companies and healthcare institutions have been fortunate to receive a significant share of the Third Frontier’s investment dollars.

The GCP presents four forums each year featuring thought leaders from academia and the business community discussing topics that impact middle-market company success. Topics include innovation, focus on customer service, talent retention and attraction, supply chain resiliency, healthcare reform and economic trends. Business leaders who have participated to share their successes, challenges and best practices include:

  • Jodi Berg, president and chief executive office, Vitamix
  • Dr. Albert Green, president and CEO, Kent Displays
  • Scott Mueller, CEO, Dealer Tire
  • Jack Schron, president and CEO, Jergens, Inc.
  • Ken Taylor, president and CEO, Ohio CAT

For more information about the GCP’s Middle-Market Initiative, contact Robert Recker, senior vice president, marketing, communications and membership, at 216.592.2384 or rrecker@gcpartnership.com.

If your’re doing something to support the middle market we want to hear about it! Leave a comment below or contact us at middlemarketcenter@fisher.osu.edu.


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