GCP’s largest Annual Event ever attracts 1,300 to discuss Cleveland today — and tomorrow

Working together will lead to a Great Region on a Great Lake, said all.

Cleveland, Ohio — When we are All In, we All Win.

That was the message of the evening Thursday at the Huntington Convention Center.

More than 1,300 Greater Clevelanders gathered to listen, learn and share ideas on how to work all-in to make this a Great Region on a Great Lake at the Greater Cleveland Partnership Annual Event.

It was the best attended and largest GCP annual event ever, bringing together corporate leaders, elected officials, small business people, community partners and other interested stakeholders.

The evening began with an inspiring video of young professional sharing their thoughts on the Cleveland of today — and tomorrow.

“Cleveland is a city where you can really make an impact… you can come to Cleveland and really make a difference,” noted Azadeh Hardiman, Business Leader at Progressive Insurance’s Level 20 growth incubator.

Cleveland is a place where “people want you to win,” said arts advocate Lo Smith.

“We have lot of young new life coming into Cleveland and it’s our opportunity to retain that talent, to make sure that talent understands this is a great city where they can thrive, it’s a great city to live work and play,” summed up Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Akeem Perry, Senior Manager, Talent Initiatives.

GCP’s Chairman, Paul Dolan, Owner and Chief Executive Officer of the Cleveland Guardians, opened the meeting portion of the evening just moments after a cheer erupted in the ballroom for the Guardians second straight walk-off win.

Dolan shared remarks on the All In vision unveiled by GCP President and CEO Baiju Shah at the 2021 meeting — sharing notable progress that has been made in the community over the past year.

Greater Cleveland Partnership President & CEO Baiju Shah

He cited examples including the Orlando Baking Company expansion on the Opportunity Corridor and Ford’s $1.5 Billion investment in electric vehicle production in Avon, as well as collaborative lobbying that has led to increased funding for NASA Glenn.

Shah expanded on these successes in his remarks.

“Working All In has allowed the region to go on offense, in attracting businesses and talent, enhancing inclusivity, and securing investment. And by being on offense, we are developing a civic culture, civic confidence, and civic ambition, that will enable us to win even more,” he began his remarks. “Simply put, when we are All In, we All Win.”

Shah expanded on the All In priorities of Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent and Inclusive Opportunity, noting Ford and NASA Glenn as examples of the GCP Dynamic Business priority.

“We are going on offense to attract talent to the region,” he said in reference to the Abundant Talent priority, noting the collaborative launch of Cleveland Talent Alliance in the spring.

Inclusive Opportunity was exemplified by the work of the Minority Business Development center to create a platform for scaling minority-owned businesses to job- and wealth-creating levels.

The Center recently assisted Pulpo Beer, the first Hispanic-owned brewery in Ohio, in accessing partners to obtain funding and secure equipment to can and label their beer for widespread distribution. Successes like this make us thirsty for more, said Shah.

Following Shah’s remarks, a high-profile panel of local leaders discussed the All In plan’s Appealing Community priority.

“Appealing Community is an even more vibrant downtown that is connected to our greatest natural resources, our waterfronts on the river and the lake. Downtown is a work, live and play neighborhood, but it means so much more to our region,” said Shah.

Panelists included John Morikis, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Sherwin Williams; Kofi Bonner, Chief Executive Officer, Bedrock; Debbie Berry, Senior Vice President, Major Projects and Real Estate Development Greater Cleveland Partnership; and David Jenkins, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Cleveland Browns/Haslam Sports Group. Jeff Epstein, Chief of Integrated Development, City of Cleveland, was the moderator.

“A vibrant downtown is an important part of recruiting and retaining talent,” noted Morikis, speaking about Sherwin Williams’ commitment to staying in Cleveland. “Cleveland is important to Sherwin Williams, and we want Sherwin Williams to be important to Cleveland.”

Many panelists talked about riverfront and lakefront development.

GCP’s Berry concluded the discussion noting that the next step is community engagement: “We are asking what the community wants … and how to make it happen.”

Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman, the 2022 recipient of the Richard Shatten Award

Following the panel, one of the area’s most notable contributors to Appealing Community, Cleveland Metroparks CEO Brian Zimmerman, was honored with the Richard Shatten Award.

GCP presents this award annually to recognize a nonprofit professional who has had significant impact while exhibiting qualities reminiscent of Cleveland Tomorrow leader Richard Shatten’s spirit.

The Metroparks leader was recognized for his contributions to amplifying Greater Cleveland’s bountiful natural resources, both land and water, and making our community ever more appealing.

“At Cleveland Metroparks, we pride ourselves on building partnerships across Northeast Ohio to improve our region and our quality of life,” said Zimmerman. “I’m honored to share this connection to Richard Shatten and to be a catalyst in driving progress and prosperity by improving access to parks and trails and connecting our communities.”

The young professionals from the opening video had the last word in the meeting, too.

Lo Smith summed up the theme of the evening: “The Cleveland of the future is built on all the beautiful work people are doing right now on the ground in this beautiful city.”

Greater Cleveland Partnership’s All In vision for a Great Region on a Great Lake has five key priorities: Dynamic Business, Abundant Talent, Inclusive Opportunity, Appealing Community and Business Confidence. All of our work ties back to these values.