Provided by Cleveland.com
Written by Tom Breckenridge
Among myriad efforts to build the region's economy, one ingredient is missing -- seasoned entrepreneurs who can take our innovations to market.
That's the view of Thomas Bradshaw, a successful businessman who sat among heavy hitters in economic development Wednesday during a "Transforming the Region's Economy" luncheon at the City Club of Cleveland.
The region is spawning early-stage companies and attracting venture capital, Bradshaw told 200 listeners.
"What we're missing in Cleveland is the [seasoned] entrepreneurs," said Bradshaw, vice chairman of the board at NorTech, which fosters growth of tech companies. "We need to recruit from the East and West coasts."
Bradshaw's comments follow recent research from Case Western Reserve University professor Scott Shane.
He suggested to the region's top economic development philanthropy -- the Fund for Our Economic Future -- that a cost-effective, business-growth strategy would be recruiting talent from Boston, Silicon Valley and entrepreneurial hotspots overseas.
JumpStart, the region's leading venture-development organization, plans to do just that.
The region has several dozen early-stage companies with high growth potential, but a shortage of talent to lead them, said Rebecca Braun, JumpStart's chief operating officer.
The region must do a better job of matching local, executive talent to early-stage companies, as well as luring seasoned entrepreneurs here.
The plan is to pay executive recruiters in places like Boston and Silicon Valley to find experienced executives to grow businesses, Braun said.
"Talent is the bottleneck," she said. "We've got to create a brain gain."
Growth of new and existing business is happening in Northeast Ohio, despite the economic woes, the City Club panelists said.
MAGNET, a nonprofit promoting manufacturers in the region, is helping companies find new business with innovation in products and processes, said Arthur Anton, chief executive of Swagelok Co. and MAGNET's board chairman.
JumpStart is seeing 400 applications a year for its pool of venture capital and its expertise in mentoring early-stage companies, said businessman Chris Schmid, chairman of JumpStart.
The region's stature as a growing, biomedical cluster is due partly to BioEnterprise, the bio-science development group whose client companies have drawn $800 million in investments, said Thomas Zenty, chief executive of University Hospitals and immediate past chairman of the BioEnterprise board.
The region's top business-attraction group, TeamNEO, had a hand in attracting seven new biomedical companies in the last two years, said Donald Misheff, Northeast Ohio managing partner for Ernst & Young LLP and TeamNEO board member.
One of the region's biggest challenges is reversing the home-grown negativism, he said. The Cleveland Plus marketing campaign needs more money for that challenge, as well as building the region's brand nationwide, Misheff said.
"Changing our attitudes -- that's what will take the most money, and that's what frightens me," Misheff said.