Economic Inclusion Plan: Business Retention
One of the most important aspects of Economic Inclusion is Business Retention. It is imperative that we keep businesses that currently provide jobs to our residents in our core city. Businesses may find they need to relocate – perhaps they have outgrown their space or they need to modernize their plant or locate closer to highways or rail to be more competitive. It is important for our Economic development team to understand the needs of our local businesses, including our identified clusters, and to be prepared to respond to their needs.
Businesses also may have issues with City services, but may not know who to call. To help with this issue, all members of the Department of Economic Development have been trained on who to call for issues that may face members of the business community, whether it involves a City department, or an outside utility. Our website, RethinkCleveland.org, also includes a section on Navigating City Hall that contains information on the most commonly issues, such as the permitting process. To further assist businesses, the City is undergoing a process to be able to have businesses submit their permit requests on-line. We anticipate the first permit applications will be ready to be submitted online in first quarter of 2016.
Beyond our internal efforts, the City has supported a long-term business visitation program called the Cleveland Industrial Retention Initiative (CIRI). This program is funded by the City through our partner, WireNet. The expert staff at CIRI visit companies and gather information on their needs, their sales, their growth, workforce, etc. From this data, programming is designed to help these companies. They also reach out to City departments and local utilities with issues on behalf of our businesses and have been very successful in handling problems. They come prepared with a list of referrals for businesses, from engineering expertise resources to plant layout assistance. CIRI surveys our local businesses who have been very satisfied with their service.
Downtown Cleveland Alliance (DCA) also conducts a visitation program for Downtown businesses. The staff of the Department of Economic Development works closely to help with any issues businesses may be experiencing. DCA also runs the Downtown Business Improvement District that provides flowers, clean-up and safety ambassadors for the Downtown area. This program has been nationally recognized as one of the most successful in the nation.
In addition to working with businesses on various issues and problems, the City keeps a complete list on our website of available properties in the city. If a company has outgrown their facility, we want to make sure that they can find another location in the City of Cleveland. The City also has an Industrial Commercial Landbank, the only one in the country. The City has assembled and cleaned hundreds of acres of property to insure that when a local business needs a site, we have available land. Projects have included a grocery store/retail complex, a greenhouse, a technology park and an expansion area for a growing maritime company.
Through these efforts the City of Cleveland has prioritized business retention, to keep jobs and investment in the City of Cleveland.