I just vacationed on the north shore of Lake Erie and returned to work yesterday to find three reports in my email inbox that made for an upbeat morning, which I needed (read on, and you'll learn why).
First, Youngstown is on the cover of Entrepreneur Magazine’s August issue as one of the Top 10 best cities for entrepreneurs. Jim Cossler, head of the Youngstown Business Incubator, and Turning Technologies (ranked as one of the fastest growing software companies in the country), are two key reasons for the ranking. Jim is the evangelist of all evangelists. We tried to recruit him here when JumpStart was first formed, but he loved his job too much to do anything else, and we had to respect that. He knows the strengths of the tech corridor that Youngstown, at the mid-point between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, represents, and he builds on those strengths with a focus and relentlessness that is fun to watch. Congrats to the Youngstown entrepreneurial and tech community on this win!
Second, Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor is listed as the 15th city in Forbes Magazine’s recent “America’s 100 Best Cheap Cities” list, which includes the subtitle “Get more for less in these bargain boomtowns”. What’s more, the magazine lists nine more Ohio cities, giving Ohio ten cities that are in the top 100. From what I can tell, no other state has more cities that qualify as “boomtowns where you can get more for less”. These cities are Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, Dayton, Toledo, Youngstown, Canton, Mansfield, and Lima. Of course I recognize, as does the magazine itself, that cheap cities may very well be cheap because unemployment is high or some other structural/economic factor is sub-optimal. However, the magazine also says that it is seeing the technology industry shift towards these lower cost cities and that this is “all part of a larger shift with tech that you’re going to see in the U.S.” At JumpStart, we live our lives every day working towards this, so we live and breathe this emerging reality; it’s great to see others beginning to recognize it.
Third, the Pew Charitable Trusts' recent Clean Energy Economy report ranks Ohio in the top 5 states in the country for number of jobs in the Clean Energy Economy. The Clean Energy Economy is a huge part of forecasted job growth over the next five to ten years and longer, and so to be a Top 5 state bodes well. Combined with Northeast Ohio’s already recognized healthcare strengths, we may well be positioned for a good decade (maybe even a great one?). The report highlights Axentis, right here in Cleveland, as a company whose software monitors greenhouse gas emissions. One of our Venture Partners, Ted Frank, was co-founder and President of Axentis, and its Chairman (and co-founder), Steve Lindseth, is one of our favorite regular speakers on the topic of growing a company and raising capital. Congrats to them for being highlighted.
Now back to why I needed to have an upbeat morning...During vacation I was supposed to be reading about the 21 irrefutable laws of leadership, but instead I got engrossed in In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. Now I return to work this morning no better a leader and all scared-like and depressed to boot (have you read In Cold Blood?). I would like to take this opportunity to reframe my wayward vacation ways, however. You see, rather than just reading about leadership, I like to believe I was actually practicing it: while I was away not reading what I was supposed to be reading, Youngstown became tops, Cleveland became a boomtown, and Ohio became a Cleantech mecca! Now that's some serious leaderly delegating, eh? :-)
Becca Braun is a past president of JumpStart Ventures. She founded and led a number of early-stage companies and organizations, as well as worked as a private equity investor and management consultant. She received her MBA from Harvard Business School and her BA in Linguistics from Harvard University. She is keenly interested in the intersection of wealth creation and broad-based regional economic growth.