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Last Friday, GCP president and CEO Joe Roman made one of his regular appearances on WTAM to talk with host Bill Wills about some of the hot projects going on around Northeast Ohio.

Following the Blockland Conference held in Cleveland the first week in December, it’s apparent that, while some other cities are just starting to scratch the surface of this new concept, Cleveland has jumped right in. Not only did attendees leave with a good impression of the city, but also with the realization that there is a lot of capacity here to become a leader in blockchain.

Joe also explained how the Cleveland Chapter of Say Yes to Education is getting closer to finalization. While he said nobody believes it will be a silver bullet—it must accompany other significant changes—it is a great asset to have on top of a school system like Cleveland that is already starting to improve.

Several recent projects have been approved in Cuyahoga County by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority. As Joe explained, it’s important to keep tax credits on the books. Cleveland has a lot of great, old buildings to repurpose and many creative developers at the ready. But the extra cash as a result of the tax credit will be crucial, and GCP has worked closely with the groups involved to make these projects happen.

Finally, they discussed how Opportunity Zones, a community development program established to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities, is a tremendous opportunity for investors. Joe explained how GCP is working to have a voice in steering investments to neighborhoods that need just a bit more help in order to turn the corner. These projects are not necessarily going to capture a lot of media attention, but they are doing great things for the city.

Listen to the interview.

Four Business Expansion Projects in Cuyahoga County

The Ohio Tax Credit Authority (TCA) recently awarded job creation tax credits to four Greater Cleveland business expansion projects. The Cuyahoga County based business expansion projects include: Everstream Solutions, LLC (Cleveland), Progressive Casualty Insurance Company (Mayfield Village), Nidec Motor Corporation (Village of Brooklyn Heights) and Titanium Metals Corporation (City of Bedford Heights).

Working in collaboration with our public partners as well as Team NEO and JobsOhio – the GCP Economic Development Program team served as the local partner for all four projects.  GCP will stay actively involved with the businesses going forward to insure their continued success in Greater Cleveland.  

In total these four Cuyahoga County businesses will create 130 new jobs, generate $11 million in new annual payroll and invest more than $100 million in real estate and equipment. We congratulate them on their success and appreciate their continued investment in Greater Cleveland.

Read the news release.

Ohio Minimum Wage Increase

Ohio’s minimum wage will increase by twenty-five cents on January 1, 2019, to $8.55 per hour for non-tipped employees. Tipped employee wages will increase to $4.30, a fifteen-cent increase from 2018.  

Click here for an Ohio Department of Commerce poster for employers to display in their work space.

While the federal minimum wage has been set at $7.25 an hour since 2009, Ohio voted in 2006 for Ohio’s minimum wage to increase on January 1 of each year by the rate of inflation.

The new minimum wage will apply to employees of businesses with annual gross receipts of more than $314,000 per year.

For employees at smaller companies with annual gross receipts of $314,000 or less per year after January 1, 2019, and for 14- and 15-year-olds, the state minimum wage is $7.25 per hour – tied to the federal minimum wage.

Fourth Quarter Middle Market Forum: Opportunity Zones—Redefining Cleveland

The 2017 tax bill signed into law by President Trump included a provision that created the Opportunity Zone program. During the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Fourth Quarter Middle Market Forum on Dec. 12, a panel of finance experts gathered to provide a high-level overview of the program, how it works and how it can benefit various geographic tracts around Northeast Ohio.

The panel was moderated by Annette Stevenson of Novogradac & Co. and included: Terry Coyne of Newmark Knight Frank; Kevin Alin of New Frontiers Development Group; Tracy Nichols of Project Management Consultants LLC; and Michael Taylor of PNC. They explained this program, similar to the federal New Market Tax Credit, was originally pushed as separate legislation by congressional members in the House and Senate, including former Congressman Pat Tiberi. The goal of the Opportunity Zone program is to allow investors to defer capital gains from the sale or exchange of property by investing the proceeds in an Opportunity Fund. The fund would invest these assets in businesses within an Opportunity Zone. An Opportunity Zone is a qualifying census tract that has, among other criteria, a poverty rate of at least 20%. 

Under the new tax law, Governors had until March 2018 to nominate up to 25% of the qualified census tracts in their states as Opportunity Zones to the US Treasury. Treasury then had at least 30 days to approve the zones. The state of Ohio recommended a total of 320 census tracts for designation as Opportunity Zones. In Cuyahoga County alone, a total of 64 tracts were submitted, with 58 of those in Cleveland proper.

The panelists explained that there has been a high level of investment interest in the program, with dozens of funds having been formed representing billions of dollars of potential investment. Data from Real Capital Analytics confirms this interest, reporting that sales of development sites spiked by 80% during the first three quarters of 2018 when compared to the same period a year ago.

While there has been a high level of interest in the program, the panelists also went over the requirements of the program and suggested that potential investors first consult with an expert familiar with the Opportunity Zone program to ensure compliance with all its various rules and regulations.

Click here for a closer look at how the Opportunity Zone program works.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Middle Market Forum series is just one example of the many events the organization hosts each year that provide the resources and education businesses need to succeed. Click here for a list of upcoming events that could help your business grow.

The Benefits of a Customized ERP Solution for Mobile Workers

A Cleveland-area company had a problem. A maker of fine woodwork cabinetry, the organization had a lot of workers out in the field installing cabinets. But capturing that labor was difficult, as the company was utilizing a paper-based system that took a long time to process and could have issues with accuracy.

An enterprise resource planning (ERP) solution could help solve these issues; however, such a solution can run into the six figures. Enter Bezlio, An Akron-based provider of a mobile app platform that gives offsite workers access to an ERP solution at a fraction of the cost of other companies.

Bezlio is a low code app platform that unites multiple data streams into custom screens and dashboards updated in real time so that workers out in the field can quickly, securely and easily access job information, customer records, jot down notes about the work they’re doing onsite, and other difficult problems that mobile workers commonly face. Bezlio CEO Adam Ellis says it’s especially important for non-desk staff to have access to such information.

“When you’re offsite,” he says, “the pain points of not being able to have this information at your fingertips is much more intense. These folks have a big need for it.”

Real world use
The manufacturing company referenced above has found great success using Bezlio to ease its own offsite pain points. And because the company has set up the app to focus only on the most critical elements their offsite workers need, the solution has proven to be extremely cost-effective.

For example, its mobile workers can easily clock in their time, find the job they’re working on and drill down into any pertinent information they need about the job and also find live information on the app that can help the worker be more efficient with his or her time. And if the worker happens to be out of cell range, the information they log in will be updated once they’re back on the network.

“Bezlio was the perfect solution for them,” Ellis says.

Workers also have the option to pull up a bar code scanner, geolocation services (which reveals customers that are near the workers’ current location), as well as push notifications. The app can also integrate easily into a wide range of platforms.

“You don’t need to spend a ton to have mobile access to your data,” Ellis says. “The ability to have all of the critical business intelligence you need and be able to transact on that data is very valuable.”

Learn more about Bezlio and how its low code ERP solution can benefit your business by clicking here.

Federal Support for NASA Glenn Research Center

As Congress works to finalize the FY 2019 appropriations process, GCP continues to keep an eye on federal support for the NASA Glenn Research Center. NASA Glenn has extensive experience with in-space propulsion and is considered the leader among its peers across the agency. NASA Glenn is central to the development of the power and propulsion element (PPE) for the Deep Space Gateway. 

The President’s initial budget called for increased funding for deep space exploration systems and both the House and Senate funding recommendations include increased support for this area. NASA Glenn has also played a lead role with the Regional Economic Development (RED) initiative. Developed four years ago through executive order, the RED initiative charged NASA centers with figuring out how they could play a stronger role in economic development. NASA Glenn has been a leader for the agency in bolstering economic development partnerships in Ohio and is at the beginning stages of expanding this work – with business and civic partners – across the Great Lakes region. 

GCP has worked closely with Ohio’s congressional delegation to advocate for these key initiatives and will continue to support these efforts throughout the remainder of the appropriations process. Federal agencies are currently operating under a continuing resolution until December 21st. Congress is working to determine if final funding decisions can occur before the end of 2018 or if negotiations will continue into next year.