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Highlights from the 2015 State of the County Address

Budish Lays Out Top Priorities, Innovation Agenda

Cleveland, OH – Last night, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish delivered his first State of the County Address. In the approximately 30-minute speech, Budish outlined the top priorities for his administration and a robust ‘Innovation Agenda.’

As County Executive, Budish’s top three priorities are Job Growth and Opportunity; Fairness and Equity; and Government that Gets Results. The following are excerpts from his address:

Job Growth and Opportunity
“We must support businesses as they create and grow jobs at all levels. Creating job openings, alone, is not enough, though. We, the County, must also help people get the education and training they need to qualify for those jobs. And we much keep our cities and neighborhoods vibrant to attract and retain top talent to fuel business growth.”

Fairness and Equity
“It’s equity. It’s justice. Finally bridging the wide opportunity gap that holds so many of us back. It is stunning to me that, in 2015, we still permit the “accident of birth” – those factors beyond our control, like who our parents are, their zip code, or the color of our skin – to be predictors of the future: whether our babies will live to see their first birthdays, whether our 5 year olds will be ready for kindergarten, whether our young people will be headed for college, or whether our courageous entrepreneurs can get a business loan.”

Government that Gets Results
“If you walk into a County office with a question, you should walk out with an answer, even if it’s not a “county problem.” It is my goal to figure out how we can create a “solution driven” County government, one that is efficient, effective, and focused on getting you what you need when you need it.”

To accomplish these three priorities and to move the entire region forward, Budish stated that the County must be innovative and do business in a different way than we have in the past. We must think outside of the box and break down those boxes that have boxed in our ability to best serve people and businesses.

Budish envisioned a future right here in Northeast Ohio where we can again say that we are a hub for innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. If we nurture our bright, creative people with great ideas, support them, and give them a chance, we can help them create new business and new jobs. Budish outlined six specific initiatives, all part of an Innovation Agenda, to again make our region a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Library Innovation Centers:
Budish proposed a pilot program at 3 libraries in Garfield Heights, Mayfield, and Parma. If a resident has an idea for a business, they can come to a library. They will be able to work on a high speed internet connection and have access to state-of-the-art equipment like a 3D printer and an assortment of software options. Mentors and experts from Think Box, Launch House, BizDom, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, NASA, and JumpStart have also committed to serve as partners and be available to teach and counsel our new entrepreneurs.

Capital Investment:
To grow, our entrepreneurs need startup and early stage money. They need better access to capital from local sources. The County can use its resources to leverage and bring private capital here, to grow young business. Budish announced that he issued 2 RFPS to attract $15 million of investment dollars to Northeast Ohio to support startup businesses. These investment programs should not cost our taxpayers because the County will be making loans, not grants, protected by secure repayment guarantees.

Global Center for Health Innovation:
Budish also focused on reigniting the Global Center for Health Innovation. The Global Center presents the opportunity to promote creativity within an exciting innovation environment which will start, grow, and attract businesses to Northeast Ohio. The Global Center has not yet come close to realizing its full potential, but we are taking steps to correct that. First, the County hired Fred DeGrandis, a top-notch managing director. And now the County is standing up an advisory committee of innovations leaders.

Small Business Loans:
Local entrepreneurs looking to start a neighborhood business need access to capital and mentoring as well. Budish proposed a new program through which the County can use a secured and guarantee loan of $2 million to leverage an additional $8 million. This program will make loans to many more small businesses, and again, should be at no cost to County taxpayers.

Inclusion is an essential part of innovation. The County recently completed a disparity study and the results are clear and disappointing. Budish will work closely with County Council to pass a Community Benefits Agreement to help remedy these disparities. Budish also announced he will seek to eliminate the bond requirement on jobs smaller than $250,000. This will give qualified small and minority contractors who previously could not afford a bond the chance to work on County projects for the first time.

No Wrong Door Policy:
Businesses in need of government assistance often get trapped in a maze of bureaucracy. There should be no wrong door for individuals and there should be no wrong door for businesses. Budish announced that the County will repurpose a member of the Department of Development to serve as a business ombudsman, to help businesses better access their government.