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(upbeat music) (indistinct audience chatter) (bell dings) - Good afternoon and welcome to the City Club of Cleveland, where we are devoted to conversations of consequence that help democracy thrive.
Today is Friday, February 24th, and I'm Kristen Baird Adams, President of the City Club Board of Directors.
It's my pleasure to introduce Steve Stivers, President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, the state's leading business organization whose mission is to aggressively champion free enterprise, economic competitiveness and growth for the benefit of all Ohioans.
Mr. Stivers was selected in May of 2021 to lead the Ohio Chamber, which this past December released the Blueprint for Ohio's Economic Future, a comprehensive report commissioned to explore the current strengths, gaps and opportunities of Ohio's business climate.
As we'll hear more today, the report focuses on six areas identified for economic growth and improvement for the state and provides recommendations and policy solutions to increase Ohio's competitiveness and drive economic growth.
Prior to joining the Ohio Chamber, Mr. Stivers' represented Ohio's 15th congressional district from 2011 until May of 2021.
He served on the Financial Services committee and was the ranking member on the subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance.
Mr. Stivers also previously served in the Ohio Senate and as a career soldier has served more than 30 years in the Ohio Army National Guard and holds the rank of major general.
We thank you for your service.
Today we'll hear from Mr. Stivers on what it will take to tackle the next frontier of challenges and opportunities for Ohio's business community.
Moderating today's conversation is Michael E. Goldberg, Associate Professor at the Department of Design and Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
Professor Goldberg also is the inaugural executive director of the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship at Case Western.
If you have questions for our guests, you can text them to 330-541-5794.
Or you can tweet your questions @thecityclub and the City Club team will do its best to work your questions into the second half of the program.
Members, friends, and guests of the City Club of Cleveland, please join me in welcoming Steve Stivers and Professor Goldberg.
(audience claps) - Well, thank you, Kristen, my Leadership Cleveland classmate, it's great to see you.
Great to be here at the City Club.
Steve, welcome to Cleveland.
- It's great to be in Cleveland and it was 70 degrees here yesterday and when I got here it was flurrying, so it's great to be in the real February Cleveland today.
So 11 years in Congress and then this opportunity comes available and you decide to make the move.
Take us, before we get into the Blueprint, a little bit of your journey and decision to take the helm of the Ohio Chamber.
- Sure, I'd been in Congress for about 11 years and that January, Rob Portman decided he was not gonna run for reelection.
I also got a call from the Ohio Chamber about that time and I said to the Ohio Chamber, "Let's hold off a little bit.
I'm actually looking at maybe running for the Senate."
So I spent between, I think it was January 26th when Portman announced he wasn't running again, until the end of March, I raised about $1.3 million, had another 1.7 million in the bank, ended up with about 3 million bucks and looked at it and really thought about it.
I have young kids, I have a now, 11 or 10 year old son and a 13 year old daughter.
They were obviously a couple years younger then.
And we, as I thought about it, I ultimately decided, you know, maybe I should look at something else 'cause if I'm, if I do end up in the Senate, if I was lucky enough to win, it was gonna be a crowded field.
I, when I was home, I wouldn't be able to be home.
I was gonna be in Cleveland or Cincinnati or Youngstown or Toledo.
And that lifestyle I'd decided maybe wasn't what I wanted to do.
And so I talked to the chamber, ended up interviewing with the chamber in early April and I think I interviewed with them on a Thursday and they offered me the job on a Friday and we announced it the next Monday.
So it moved pretty quick after that.
I started on May 17th of 2021, so I'm not quite in my, I'm in my second year, don't quite finish my second year for a couple months.
But super excited to be there.
And the Ohio Chamber's an incredible place where I think we can make a difference.
I still see a lot of things being able to get done at the state level.
In Congress, things are tough to get done and you've got great members of Congress up here from both sides of the aisle who are good friends.
But it's really hard to get things done in Congress and I felt like back at the State House you can still get things done and we can make a difference.
And when you see what's happening in Ohio right now, it's a super exciting time to be in Ohio, in all parts of Ohio, in Northeast Ohio, in Central Ohio, in Southwest Ohio.
There's a lot of excitement going on and there's a lot more to come that I'm super excited about.
Before we get get into the Blueprint, talk about the role of the Ohio Chamber and your interaction with chamber as we've got a good group here from the Greater Cleveland Partnership and maybe a little bit about the interplay between what you do at the state level and and how you work with folks like the Greater Cleveland Partnership here in Cleveland.
- We work with GCP, with Baiju, and with Marty every day.
And they are the voice of Northeast Ohio business.
They are really in touch with what's going on here.
So when we want to know what's going on in Northeast Ohio, we have a lot of members, so I get up here at decent amount, but Baiju's always my first call and then I call our members too.
So, we work very much hand-in-glove with our local partners and they're pretty active at the state level just like we are.
So, we are great partners and we want to see Cleveland and Northeast Ohio do really well.
We're excited about a whole bunch of things in the Blueprint that are very focused in and around Cleveland and Northeast Ohio and I'm excited about their All in plan and frankly, they're very aligned and we can talk about that.
I'm sure you'll ask a question about that.
Let's talk about the Blueprint and sort of the inspiration for it and the approach.
'Cause I thought the way that you sort of partnered with Accenture, the way you leaned into some existing metrics was a unique perspective to put together the plan if you want to share.
- Well, when I got to the chamber, we had historically obviously just talked to our members to say, "What do you want us to focus on?
What do you want us to do?"
And while that's effective, when your members know what they want, it doesn't always get you to every answer.
Because they don't always know what the right thing is to move Ohio forward either.
So what we decided to do was put out an RP and Accenture answered the call and was our choice.
To have a consulting firm deconstruct a bunch of national rankings of, where does Ohio rank against the 50 other, the 49 other states and where are we doing well, where do we maybe need to do better?
And then they deconstructed those rankings and looked at policy choices that would move us up in the rankings with the goal of being the number one state in the country to do business and the number one state in the country to live.
So, we felt like if we could improve quality of life and people wanting to live here and the business environment at the same time, it will be a great thing for Ohio citizens and Ohio businesses.
And we think that Accenture did a really good job on some primary and secondary research that get us basically where we think we want to go.
And this creates an agenda for the next decade that'll keep Ohio moving forward and continuing the kind of wins we had with Intel, with the Ford battery plant in Lorain, with the Foxconn battery plant in the Youngstown area, with, you know, the Honda plant between Columbus and Cincinnati.
So we've had wins for all parts of the state.
We need to supercharge that, but we want to make sure we continue that and there's a really important set of choices we need to make if we want to continue that growth.
- Yeah, and I want to get into some of the advantages and as you keep, as you term it, opportunities, which you know are some of the challenges.
Talk before we get into that.
On one level, and I see this with Baiju all the time, and I think he does a great job of being a cheerleader for our city.
You're a great cheerleader for the state, so you're out there getting national attention for the great things are here.
At the same time, this report is not all positive.
There are some challenges.
How do you sort of wrestle with that challenge of sort of being a cheerleader but at the same time pointing out some things that maybe aren't going so well in our state where we need to improve?
- Well, I definitely want to be a cheerleader, but I'm not gonna tell people things that aren't true.
And our goal still is to be number one.
By all accounts, we aren't number one today.
And so we've got some work to do.
We are competitive.
We have great fresh water in Ohio.
We have an amazing workforce and work ethic.
We don't have enough people, we don't, we need to do better there, but we have so many incredible things that are going for us.
We are one of the lowest cost places to do business in the country.
But there's a little more we can do there.
And there's a ton of advantages we have.
But if, we need to harness things a little bit better and focus.
And then I think we can easily move from, we were number nine in the CNBC rankings last year.
We can move to number one, we're in the top 10, that's great, but we need to move to number one.
And we can move to number one.
It is very doable in the next 10 years.
So, on the competitive advantage side, and we started to get into it a little bit, one of them is on research and development and patents issued and I'm joined by my colleague, Michael Oakes here who's new to Cleveland from the University of Minnesota.
We at Case Western Reserve are trying to grow our research expenditure to four to $600, say $400 million to $600 million.
That's just part of the equation.
And whether it's us, the Cleveland Clinic, University Hospital, then there's the corporate research side.
Sort of interested in to hearing your perspective on Northeast Ohio.
Why is what we're doing on the research side, both in the university and hospital, but as well as on the corporate side, so critical to our growth?
- Well I think it's super critical when you think about the United States versus the rest of the world, Michael.
We're never gonna be, while we are one of the lower places, cost places in America, we're never gonna be the lowest cost place in the world.
So innovation is gonna be really important 'cause that's where the margins are.
And when you have innovation, you can afford to not necessarily be the lowest cost place to do business.
And we don't want it to be a battle to the bottom of lowest cost.
We want to figure out how to gain that margin.
And that's why research is so important.
And when you look at Cleveland's advantages, you know, fortune 500 corporations that are doing research right here in Northeast Ohio.
Big academic institutions like Case Western University, Michael, thank you for all your work and I know you're growing your sponsored research in addition to your federal research work and that sponsored research work from those companies that may be based in Northeast Ohio or may not, brings that research again right here to Northeast Ohio.
And that's a huge advantage.
And then you've got huge institutions, nonprofit institutions like the Cleveland Clinic that are amazing research institutions that are doing cutting edge healthcare and other bio research that is gonna result in spinoff companies and economic activity.
And that's the point of all research.
We need to see it all the way through the model.
And I remember when I was the state senator having this conversation at Ohio State and the research director of Ohio State was telling me all this, all the research dollars they were getting and I said, "I appreciate you telling me all the research dollars you're getting, but to me that's an input, not an output.
Run it through the equation and tell me how it's gonna create companies and jobs."
And that's what research does when we do it right.
But we have to run it all the way through the equation.
We have to have everybody understanding.
The goal is to run that research all the way through the equation to result in companies and jobs and economic activity.
That's really the ultimate value of research and basic research is really important, that building block research is the starting point.
But we have to ultimately move it through the goose if you will, and result in jobs and companies.
- I mean, speaking of jobs, a lot in the report is around workforce.
Have some strength, obviously higher ed and a number of things here, but also some challenges.
I mean obviously the Intel announcement coming to Ohio was very exciting.
All the jobs that are gonna to come with that.
But maybe share your perspective on sort of where do you see Ohio well-positioned around workforce and where are there challenges ahead?
- Let's start with some of the challenges and then we can get to the advantages.
Ohio's growing slower than the rest of the country.
We grew at about one quarter of a percent and the national average about half a percent.
And the US isn't growing as fast as it could or should.
Some states, Utah for example, and it's unfair to compare us to Utah, but I'm going to anyway, growing at almost 3%.
I mean that is what we should aspire to and I know Valentine's Day is over, but go home and love your spouse and let's grow Ohio.
(all laugh) And... and if we can't grow Ohio organically, we've gotta get people to move here.
And that means getting people to move here from other parts of the United States and other parts of the world.
And I think that is something that we, in the business community, have to be very open to.
Something that all the academic institutions that are here know, is that we are a net importer.
People come here to go to college from other states.
So we bring folks to Ohio to go to college.
We have great private universities, we have great public universities, we have great technical schools in Ohio and people come here to go to school.
The problem is most of those people that come here from out of state... leave again.
And we need to try to keep more of them and keep more of our Ohio students.
We have about a half a million college students on any given year and we do better than some states, but we can do better at keeping that talent right here in Ohio.
And when you look at everything we do, it's probably all wrong.
We charge people tuition based on where they're coming from, not where they're going to.
So you get in-state tuition if you're from Ohio, it doesn't matter where you're going to.
Maybe we should look at it the other way.
Maybe we should look at focusing on how we get people to stay in Ohio.
One of the things, and I talked to Karen about it at our table before, one of the things that we think we need to do in Ohio is connect more of those half million college students with Ohio-based employers while they're in school with internships, externships and co-ops.
Paid internships, externships and co-ops.
We think if that happens, they'll build a relationship with that employer and are more likely to get a job offer.
And that's what keeps people in Ohio.
And that's what we think will keep more students here.
And we're working to get what we call "Work and Learn Ohio" instituted through the Ohio budget.
It'll be a public and private partnership with the goal of long term over like, five years.
Ultimately matching 50,000 college students a year with Ohio-based employers.
With the goal of keeping most of them here.
And then obviously tracking to see how well that works and figuring out what else we need to do besides that to get to keep them here.
And we think that is the best way to keep students here.
You know, workforce is an issue everywhere, and the state that figures it out, that's not gonna base it on sunshine or you know, their weather, is the state that's gonna win.
Some states have a natural draw.
People want to move to sunny and other states and that, we are not gonna have that.
But we can figure it out without that.
And I'm convinced we, it's about, and we can talk a little bit more about sense of place, but we have to make our communities places where people want to live.
And I think that are a lot of people- GCP's so focused on that and doing a great job of improving the quality of life in northeast Ohio.
You, this is an amazing place.
I mean, go look at all the theater stuff you've got in Cleveland.
It's like fourth best in the country as far as number.
And quality, it's probably even higher than that.
It's, you know, it's hard to beat New York but it's, your theater district is incredible.
There's so much you can do up here.
The lake... is such an underutilized asset, and I want to talk about that if we talk about sense of place.
But it is really something that we've gotta focus on.
And there's not enough access to the lake for people.
And where you have access to the lake, it's a park.
But you can't dine there, you can't shop there, you can't stay there, you can't produce economic output.
Let's create public-private partnerships in and around the lake where you can actually create economic output and the people that go there actually generate economic activity.
I think that's the kind of thing that we should look at in and around Cleveland.
And I think Cleveland, you know, could really be a leader in that.
- You know, and you marry place with the changing ways that employers are staffing.
I mean we're seeing a number of people coming back to the region that are working remotely.
I mean, obviously hybrid work is here to stay, it's not going anywhere.
Any thoughts on sort of how the way that employers and the way that folks are working is sort of changing some of the calculus as chambers like you or GCP are sort of thinking about attracting and retaining workers?
- Well, what it does is it allows high cost companies based in high cost areas, New York, Chicago, DC, LA, to fish in our pond.
Get your employees, pay 'em a little less than they'd make in LA or Chicago, and they get access to new talent.
The problem is it actually exacerbates the problem here in Cleveland for the companies that are based here.
And I'm not against remote work.
Remote work's great and it's good for a lot of those companies.
It's great for employees.
I mean that's why the, they're still in today in, in Ohio more jobs available than people looking for work.
And you know, part of that is because people are working for companies they couldn't have worked for before 'cause they can work remote.
Part of it is the great resignation.
There's a whole bunch of reasons why that is.
But we've gotta help develop the talent of the people that are here.
And there's also a ton of people in the shadows that we've gotta bring back.
And that's, our report talks a lot about them.
Veterans, people that have disabilities.
We've gotta do more for folks that don't have the, that are on public benefits, that have the benefits cliff that keep them from working or keep them from taking the next promotion.
We've got to try to increase our workforce participation rate, and two really important issues around that; transportation and also childcare.
Our transportation system, RTAs great up here in Cleveland, I love RTA, but it stops at the county line.
And when Baiju finds your super site, that's gonna be your Intel, it's probably not gonna be in Cuyahoga County.
And so, when that happens, you gotta think about how are you gonna get people to that site unless we reform the way that our rapid transit works.
We've gotta make some changes and we've gotta be honest at looking at folks and saying the old way of doing things doesn't work.
County lines are pretty arbitrary.
and your region has eight important counties in it.
and the transit system needs to go to those eight important counties and needs to take people from where they are to where they want to be.
- Venture capital is on the list as an opportunity.
Last night Mark Kvamme from Drive Capital was up in Cleveland with Ray Leach talking about a new effort called the Ohio Fund.
You know, for those of us that sort of work in the entrepreneurship and venture capital space, this is an area where we don't stand up well and I think your report showed that relative to other states.
Maybe talk about the importance of bringing early stage capital, more of it, into Ohio and to places like Cleveland.
- Well and, we've done better.
I want to be fair, we've done better.
We doubled our venture capital from '21 to '22.
But some states had four time multiples and were already ahead of us in the total number.
So, what Mark's doing is great and it's a private sector solution.
We also think we should look at something like a fund-of-funds through some of the ARPA dollars.
There are opportunities to do a lot of different things, but the reason we need early stage venture capital that's Ohio-based is what happens is, if a company starts, let's say out of the Cleveland Clinic and spins out and they get funded by maybe a Bay Area venture capital fund or somebody in Boston, those venture funds tend to move their portfolio companies into their orbit so that their directors and their supervisors can watch what they're doing.
And so it is like a gravitational force that pulls the headquarters of those companies around where they get capital from.
And that's why we need more Ohio-based capital 'cause we want to make sure that we're actually using that gravitational force to keep them here, to oppose some of the forces that might want to pull 'em someplace else.
And the good news is, Ohio's a great place to do business, but we do need to get more venture capital.
And Mark is trying to raise, I think he told me his first round he's trying to do is 250 million.
I met with him about this last week at his race car facility, which is super awesome.
If you haven't gone to it, go see it and it's, that's a good start if we can get $250 million.
And he's raising money from all around the country and that money will be focused in and around Ohio.
Not every investment that the Ohio Fund will make will be Ohio-based, but their focus will be Ohio.
So, my guess is most of it will be Ohio-based and that's all we can ask for.
'Cause again, it's private money and we think that makes a lot, he needs to diversify and do what makes sense for his investors.
But if he's at least looking at Ohio, that's a great thing.
So, the fact that they're folks trying to help as we try to raise this venture capital number is a good thing.
But we still think the state should help fund a fund-of-funds that could again, leverage out of state money and grow venture capital and it's something that we're gonna need gobs and gobs of.
So, there's not one answer.
I think there's a lot of answers that can help move us forward on venture capital, but Mark Kvamme's fund is definitely one of the answers.
And if you didn't go see him last night, I think he's coming back to Cleveland in about a month and a half.
So as we wrap up our portion of the conversation, I mean, the Blueprint is an excellent document.
I recommend that that folks who are listening are here today, take a look at it and think there's, while there's challenges that are in there that we've talked about, it's an optimistic perspective and I think GCP's All in is also, while it's realistic, is optimistic.
Sort of talk about as you sort of move forward, you take, you know, all of this work, 96 pages of document, lots of metrics, lots of measurement, and sort of move forward.
Why do you believe that this is something that you can execute on and actually move the needle in some of the areas that we think we can?
- Well, some people have told us they think we might be trying to boil the ocean.
What we've done is turned it into to a top 10 list first.
So we have our top 10 priority lists out of it.
I think about four of those are gonna get done in the state budget, which is a great thing.
And then we'll keep our list going and update it and still have 10 priorities.
So, after a few of those get in the budget, by the end of June, early July, we'll probably, you know, put out four or five new things we're gonna do.
We're gonna put a dashboard on our research foundation's website.
Justin Barnes is here from the Ohio Chamber Research Foundation.
He's been the one driving this.
He's gonna put a dashboard up and please feel free to go to our ohiochamber.com website and look at the progress that we've made and we plan to keep making.
But this is probably a 10 year agenda, Michael, but it's really important that we stay focused on it because it's what's gonna drive our competitiveness for the future of Ohio.
Again, it's almost completely aligned with the GCP All in Cleveland plan, which has four points; they combined business friendliness and tax and fees.
One of ours, they didn't really focus on infrastructure in theirs, but a lot of the infrastructure stuff is done, to be honest.
The Congress did pass the big infrastructure bill last year.
Ohio has made major investments in rural broadband, which is a big deal to us.
And we think it's important.
Low Earth satellites and the free market investment, I think, will ultimately be the game changer in rural broadband for a lot of Ohioans.
The other piece on infrastructure that we think we need to focus on is the availability of affordable energy in Ohio and reliable, I need to add reliable energy in Ohio.
We've had rolling blackouts in Ohio that don't last a long time, but when you have a storm in Indiana and we have to roll people off of power in Ohio because we import 25% of our power, that's a concern.
And having served in the military in Iraq where the power grid is not reliable, I do not want that to be Ohio's future.
So, I hope we invest in a much more reliable power grid and that's an important part of infrastructure.
But almost everything else, those four things that GCP has; workforce and education, they have sort of a, the equivalent of a sense of place.
They have taxes, business friendliness and costs, and they have innovation and collaboration.
So our plan is very much aligned with the All in Cleveland plan and we're excited about implementing it.
I feel confident we can implement it and I think, you know, we're gonna again, try to get 10 things done and then we'll, as we get one done, it's a rolling list of 10 and we'll add one to it.
And over the next 10 years, you know, we plan to get to every lever and focus on every part of the policies.
Well thank you so much for- - Thanks, Michael, it's been- - coming to Cleveland, yeah.
- a great conversation.
Great to be in Cleveland.
(audience claps) - We're about to begin the audience Q & A. I'm Kristen Baird Adams, President of the City Club Board of Directors.
Today we are talking about the Blueprint for Ohio's Economic Future.
Joining us on stage are Steve Stivers, President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, who of course commissioned the report.
And Michael E. Goldberg, Associate Professor at the Department of Design and Innovation at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University.
We welcome questions from everyone, City Club members, guests, students, and those joining us via our livestream at cityclub.org or our radio broadcast at 89.7 Ideastream Public Media.
If you'd like to tweet a question, please do so at @thecityclub.
You can also text your questions to 330-541-5794.
May we have our first question, please?
- Yes, sir.
You said about, talked about the need to add more workers.
Please share with us what you would like to see in terms of comprehensive immigration reform.
And you talked to me ahead, so I knew this question was coming.
(audience and Michael laughs) But it is an important, thank you for that.
God knows I need the warning.
But comprehensive immigration reform could really grow our economy.
I did serve in Congress for 11 years and I am a realist, not necessarily always an optimist, although I try to be optimistic.
I would love to see the two parties drop their fighting over immigration and come together for the good of our country and our economy.
You know, we're all, I don't see many Native Americans here, so we are all immigrants in one.
Well, I got one.
(Michael laughs) Many of us are immigrants in one form or another, and immigration is an important part of what has made America what we are, and the fabric that we have.
We are not a country of people that are all the same.
We are a country that came together around ideas and opportunity.
And that's what I hope we can be again.
I'm not sure that they will do this, but I'll go ahead and tell you what I'd love to see.
I'd love to see us move our immigration system to, like what Canada has, a merit-based immigration system where what moves people to the top of the line is what our economy needs.
And not just, you know, unification and other things.
It should help be part of our growth strategy.
Canada has done that.
Most European countries have done that.
I also think we should staple a Green Card to, you know, Case Western, most of your graduate students are not from the United States.
They're foreign graduate students.
We should staple a Green Card to their diploma and say, "Come work in America."
So we have a really interesting education policy in this country.
We bring people from all around the world and give 'em the best education that they can get anywhere and then we send them home and force 'em to compete against us.
Maybe not smart.
(Michael and audience laughs) So I'd love to see us do that as well.
And then I think that, you know, we should obviously continue to welcome refugees, people that are persecuted from all around the world.
That's what's made America great and I think that has to be part of it too.
But I really do think a merit-based system would help grow our economy and move us forward and that's what I'd love to see happen.
- Congressman Stivers, thank you for your service, both to the nation as well as to our military.
And I'm with Global Cleveland.
My name's Joe Cimperman.
It's Valentine's Day every day at Global Cleveland.
(all laugh) - Love it.
- Congressman, I appreciate the challenge with the situation in DC.
But Ohio has proven itself to be more innovative than the nation with providing tax incentives to veteran companies, to companies that are working with people who are incarcerated.
And so I guess I'm gonna ask you as somebody now who's leading us in Ohio, and we're forever grateful that you're not in Congress and you're back here doing this important work, can we do that here in Ohio?
Can we offer incentives to companies that hire immigrants?
Can we create a system where we actually give people that kind of tax credit?
Because I see what's happening in other states and Ohio, through a study that we did, is third highest in educating international students and the bottom third for keeping them.
- And we're here to do whatever we can to support you major general.
- Well, thank you.
And I do think we should create incentives for hiring immigrants.
I think it would help encourage in-migration to Ohio.
I testified on a bill with regard to veterans yesterday to encourage veteran-owned companies to get more work from state programs.
And I think those kind of things can really help move Ohio forward.
And we need to be innovative with our ideas and thoughts and open to other ideas.
Thanks for those ideas.
- Yeah, my questions about whether or not the Blueprint addresses climate change.
And... does it address climate change?
- Not directly.
- And how do you think- - But what it does, it doesn't address climate change directly.
It talks about a more resilient power grid, which is indirectly related to climate change.
And you know, I think we all need to figure out how to make our economy move forward and thrive.
And the other thing we talk about is natural gas, which I think is a much clean, it is a much cleaner burning fossil fuel, still a fossil fuel, but has helped us achieve the results under the Kyoto Protocol, even though America didn't sign on to the Kyoto Protocol, natural Gas helped America achieve those results.
And I think for my lifetime, I'm 56 years old, natural gas is a really important cleaner, bridging, technology that can move us toward even cleaner power over time.
I mean, I'd love to see things like hydrogen, and we support the hydrogen hub in Ohio, but I think natural gas is a really important bridging technology.
And we talk about that it's an Ohio, we have a lot of Ohio natural gas, and we think that is important.
We do talk about the power grid and how it needs to be reliable and that's part of the challenge of climate change.
- Good afternoon, appreciate the conversation.
New York to DC is roughly 230 miles, takes about four hours, close to five hours to drive.
Cleveland to Cincinnati is 248 miles, roughly three and a half to, depending on how fast you go, (audience laughs) roughly about three to four hours.
But, NYC to DC by train is three and a half hours.
Cleveland and Cincinnati is nine hours plus.
We have a significant problem with mobility of people getting around Ohio.
And, what do you see is, how are you going to connect all these different things that are going on.
I had the privilege to drive around the state last month, but there seems to be a disconnection.
How are you going to bring people together using mobility and transportation?
- That's a great point and a great observation.
We think that rail is a very important piece of mass transit, but I will tell you, we think it needs to be linked in.
So it can't just be Cleveland to Cincinnati, it's gotta be linked to somewhere.
You know, it needs to be Chicago to Toledo, to Columbus, to Cleveland or, and then Pittsburgh.
It's gotta actually, it can't just be inside Ohio, it's gotta actually go somewhere else if it's really gonna work and be regionally effective, in our opinion.
And so we've been working with a lot of regional planners from around the country to figure out how we can become part of a longer network with regard to rail.
And while intrastate rail would be nice, I think you'll get more ridership if it connects you to places outside Ohio as well.
If you could ultimately get it to DC or ultimately get it to Chicago or other places that folks want to go, we think that'll make it more effective.
But we've been involved in some conversations with a lot of the urban planners about, can we bring Amtrak in and through Ohio in a bigger way because, you know, Amtrak is obviously one of the big providers that will take you to more regions and we think that would be more effective than just an inside Ohio plan.
I hope that makes sense.
- Good afternoon.
This tech, or sorry, this question came through via text.
Artificial intelligence and things like ChatGPT can be an asset by streamlining simple tasks but also a threat to job growth with increased automation.
You mentioned the plan is about 10 years ahead.
Has the chamber considered the influence of AI in the economy?
- We have and we think there should be a working group in Ohio on augmented and artificial intelligence.
We think it's a really important productivity tool, but we recognize that artificial intelligence could ultimately displace up to 40% of the workforce.
And when you look at the workforce it could displace; lawyers, accountants, underwriters, these are good white-collar, expensive jobs.
And so we want to make sure that there is a thoughtful plan in the way we implement these things and that we encourage lifelong education for folks that may be impacted at some point.
The goal shouldn't be zero job loss because productivity is important and we've gotta make America productive because we are a very expensive place for wages.
But what it should be is minimizing job loss and making sure that we have a plan for people that might be displaced as technology is adopted.
But a plan around it probably needs to happen sooner rather than later.
I mean, artificial intelligence is not going to disrupt a bunch of jobs tomorrow or next week, but in 10 years it could be a major force of disruption.
And we need to plan ahead for that.
And we need to make sure people are focused on where the future opportunities are.
And if we do this right, people will be graying out of jobs and they'll be replaced by technology.
It won't just be technology coming in and replacing a whole bunch of people.
- Good afternoon, we have another text question.
So when we talk about growing Ohio, is there any thought that state politics are keeping some people from considering or staying in Ohio?
We're not in line with American majorities on women's and LGBTQ rights.
- I think that's definitely something we need to look at.
We want Ohio to be a welcoming place and we want to make sure that we're not, you know, turning off a ton of people.
But at the same time, you know, I don't know that that's gonna be the number one driver, but I think we need to look at everything as we look at this and consider, you know, we don't want to be on the extreme of anything if we want to be a welcoming place.
So, I think we just need to be thoughtful as we look at those kind of policies.
The chamber's been reluctant to get involved in social issues, but we have at times made statements about issues that we thought made Ohio unwelcoming.
There was a bill last year sponsored by Representative Jean Schmidt from Clermont County that we felt like was a little too extreme.
Now, it didn't get a single hearing, it didn't have a serious chance of becoming law, but we felt like we should speak out to make sure that we put a stake in the ground that said we want Ohio to be a welcoming place for everyone.
But I doubt we are gonna become a social issues organization at the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, nor do you probably want us to be.
But there are people that are focused on that and I'm sure they will engage in a lot of these things and we will engage if we feel like things are getting so extreme that Ohio's looking like an unwelcoming place.
- We have another question from text.
Everyone's active, it's great.
The long-term visibility of manufacturing in Ohio depends on investment in sustainable infrastructure such as renewable electricity, high capacity electric distribution, green hydrogen and carbon capture.
How can we ensure Ohio-based manufacturers get their share of federal investment?
Example, IRA and sustainable infrastructure?
- Well those are, it's a great point.
We are very focused on, not green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen is a great theory.
We're focused on blue hydrogen, which is real and something that is attainable in Ohio right now.
And we think that is a good start.
And you know, blue hydrogen will help you get to green hydrogen ultimately.
The other thing about manufacturing I will say is 53% of Ohio manufacturers have 10 employees or less.
And they're operating, many of them in Northeast Ohio, many of them are operating on legacy equipment that is 50 years old or older.
And as we move to, and this isn't even artificial intelligence or anything, as we move to more computer-assisted design that is demanded by the innovators, and as we move to tighter tolerances on, you know, equipment and products, a lot of that 50 year old equipment is gonna be irrelevant and not, and these companies, 53% of our manufacturing base will be potentially pushed out.
So, we're pushing something we call the Ohio Manufacturing Innovation Grant that would help those small manufacturers get access to, grant to subsidize their capital cost of new equipment that can make them viable for the next 20 to 50 years.
And we think that's the most urgent need in and around manufacturing and we hope to get that done in this year's budget.
- We have another text question.
So when the NFL draft was in Cleveland, a reporter commented that they didn't realize Cleveland had a beach.
(all laugh) How can we better market our Ohio lakefront cities so obvious things like a lakefront city having a beach, isn't such a huge shock to the rest of the world?
(all laugh) - Well, part of it is you can't always see the lake from parts of Cleveland.
And there's no easy way to get to it everywhere.
I'm gonna say something really controversial, but I hope the mayor takes a serious look at the future of Burke Lakefront Airport.
That is a big chunk of land that would be an amazing place for a public-private partnership.
So any of you that fly your private planes into Burke Lake Front airport now wanna skewer me.
But I do think when you look at what Chicago did with their old airport downtown, Mayor Daley came out with a bulldozer and cut the runway up and nobody ever did anything to him and now it's a beautiful park space with lake access.
It's really amazing.
I'm not saying Mayor Bibb should get in a bulldozer, but I think he should take a serious look at the future of Burke Lakefront Airport because that is, when you look at the lakefront, there's a chunk of land there and you could really do something with it.
And I know he's got a study on it and I don't know what he's gonna plan to do with it, but I can tell you it could be really exciting for not just Cleveland, but for anybody without about, within about an hour or hour and a half's drive of the lake.
It could be super exciting.
- You don't have a private plane, do you?
- I don't.
- Okay, good.
(audience laughs) - Columbus being a little bit of an anomaly, if we look at Northeastern Ohio, how are you helping to facilitate regional cooperation?
You know, it's not suburb X against suburb y, it's not the fiefdom environment that I believe exudes here.
But how do, how are you and how do we get past this and start looking at Northeastern Ohio against, you know, X, Y or Z rather than the internal dynamics?
And I will say Baiju is at the center of regional cooperation and doing an incredible job of bringing a lot of people together here, Team NEO, I'm really proud of everything Team NEO's doing to work as a region.
I know there's still some tribalism up here, there's still some artificial lines, but, and you're always gonna have some of that.
But, I'm excited about the All in plan and I think that is what's gonna break down some of those barriers and keep everybody understanding that Northeast Ohio's gonna rise or fall together.
You know, so Brecksville's not gonna rise if Cleveland's falling and you know, you're all gonna rise together.
And I think Baiju is doing an incredible job of pulling people, and Marty, pulling people together around that vision.
And I think the All in plan is that vision and I'm excited about it and I think it's gonna move people forward.
- Steve, thank you for your service and certainly your leadership of the Ohio Chamber.
I'm curious about what the targets are for population growth for the state.
And so whether it's at the governmental level, at the chamber level, what are some of those targets and are there some creative plans that we're looking at to attract people that other high growth states like Texas may be doing that we could maybe emulate?
- Yeah, that's a great question.
And let me start with a couple statistics of where we are and where we could or should be.
We have 11 and a half million people approximately.
There are three and a half million people who grew up in Ohio that don't live here anymore.
Some of them went chasing sunshine, some of them are retired, but most of those people are in the 18 to 65 cohort, age-wise.
And if we could keep more people here, that would be helpful.
Our goal is to look at trying to get some of those people back.
And there are times in your life when it's logical to come back home.
When you get married and have a kid, you might want to come be around the grandparents.
When you are getting older you might have aging parents you want to come back and look after.
And we're working with Jobs Ohio, who's done a great job of recruiting businesses to Ohio to start recruiting workers to Ohio and do a bunch of big data work around people that have some relationship to Ohio.
Either it's those three and a half million people that grew up here, or people that went to school here, lived here for a little while, worked for a company based here, you know, came to a Cleveland Browns game and hopefully if they won, and then (audience chuckles) I know that's not very often, but... (audience laughs) - [Audience Member] Ohh!
- (laughing) I lost the crowd right there.
- Yeah, right.
(audience laughs) - Sorry.
But it's, if what we want to do is try to target people based on their relationship with Ohio.
And then some people that have the skills and credentials we need, we have a shortage of accountants, and if we can get people that have an accounting degree and a CPA to move here, that's a great thing.
You know, so we need to target the in-demand careers and fields we need.
And we think Jobs Ohio is the logical organization to do that because they have a funding stream and because they care, because they're bringing in all these companies that need workers.
And that's one of the first things they hear now when they're bringing a company to Ohio is, "How are you gonna get us the workers?"
So we think that there's a way to target those folks and get more of 'em to come back to Ohio.
We'd love to have international immigration reform.
Probably not gonna happen this year, but hopefully we can get that done sometime.
- Does the Blueprint address improving K-12 public education in the state?
- It addresses it as workforce.
So I'll walk you through an average public high school last year.
In Ohio, 53% of the students went on to college.
I should say only 40, or 49% of those actually complete college within four years too.
Something else we gotta look at, but let's focus on the other 47%.
The 47% that didn't go to college.
The curriculum is really isn't built for them.
We need more career and technical education for those folks.
They need to come out of high school with career readiness.
And if we do it right, I talked about our Work and Learn Ohio plan, the same focus on work-based learning for college students should apply to seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth graders, getting them exposed during the summers with an Ohio business to learn the soft skills of coming to work on time, how you dress, what you do, you know, just those kind of things.
Soft skills are as important as hard skills.
We don't teach enough technical skills and we don't have a way to connect those 47% of the students.
So think about it, if you round, 50% of the students aren't getting the curriculum they need to be workforce ready in Ohio.
And in some of the better school districts they probably are, but unfortunately I don't think we can say across Ohio that's happening.
And so that's our plan for education.
And I will tell you, it seems to be shared by Governor DeWine.
He has put a lot of money in career and technical education in this budget, and I think it's gonna move us forward, but we've gotta stay with it.
And we gotta pay attention to those folks who aren't going on to college, make sure they have, you know, career pathways, that they know that there are jobs and opportunities, that they have soft skills through work-based learning, and they get the hard skills they need.
How to read, write, do some basic math, that if they can do those things.
And then there's some technical skills that you can probably get in high school now.
We've done a great job with our College Credit Plus.
So, if you're going on to college, most of the college students start with some college credit now because of College Credit Plus.
If we thought about those kind of things for non college-bound students, we'd be a lot better off.
Our employers would be a lot better off with job ready employees.
And those graduating high school students would be a lot better off because they'd know they can get a job the next day.
We lose about 20,000 students every year that graduate from Ohio colleges.
I'm sorry, Ohio high schools.
Don't go on to college, don't start a job.
I don't know exactly what they're doing, but I know we lose about 20,000 and those are of the students that graduate.
Think about the ones that don't quite make it to graduation too, and how many of those aren't in the workforce.
We need to have a much more concerted effort around technical education.
- I've been taking public transportation for 53 years and in fact took it today to the City Club and I've drawn the conclusion after all these years that people will not take public transportation if they can drive their car.
So- - Maybe.
- How do you, yeah, how, I mean I think that's, do you agree that that is a real problem?
And what kind of efforts do we need to make to get people not to take the car and take public transportation if it's available to them?
- Well, I think, you know, I think your solution or your idea is probably true, but I think if we made public transportation more convenient, I think you would see a higher uptake.
The reason people won't take public transit, but they'll take their car is because my car takes me from where I am to where I want to be.
And public transit takes me along this mainframe route they like, and then I get to a transfer point and I go somewhere else.
I mean, the average Ohioan's commute is 17 minutes.
Do you know what the average commute of somebody in public transportation is?
You might know.
So it's four times longer and five times longer.
That's really problematic.
And it's an equity issue because you know, in the white community, 96% of the people own a car.
In communities of color, that number's 46%.
And so, it really is an issue where we need to make sure that our public transit system takes people from where they are to where they want to be.
And I do think if our transit system did that, people would be more likely to ride it then just take their car.
And I think that's the real solution.
It also would cut down that commute time.
But it will force big changes.
So the, think about the platforms they use, you probably came in on a 40 person bus.
You can't take a 40 person bus from where you are to where you want to be, you gotta use smaller platforms, you need more drivers.
It changes the whole system and economics a little bit.
But we can do it.
And it's not probably that much more expensive, but it's a little more expensive to take people from where they are to where they want to be, but it's their time you're getting back and that's worth something to me and I know it's worth something to them.
- Thank you Steve Stivers and Professor Goldberg for joining us at the City Club.
(audience claps) - Great job, Michael.
- That was fun.
- We also would like to thank, welcome and thank guests at tables hosted by citizens, Cuyahoga County Community College, Global Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Partnership, the Levin College of Public Affairs and Education, Minutemen, the Ohio Chamber and the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
Thank you all for being here today.
Up next at the City Club, we will be at the Happy Dog in Cleveland's Gordon Square, Gordon Square District discussing future land and how to bolster equitable access to capital and growth opportunities here in Cleveland.
Then on Friday, March 3rd, the City Club will welcome U.S.
Congressman Dave Joyce of Ohio's 14th District.
You can learn more about these forums and others at cityclub.org.
And that brings us to the end of today's forum.
Thank you once again to Steve Stivers and Professor Goldberg and thank you members, friends, and guests of the City Club of Cleveland.
I'm Kristin Baird Adams and this forum is now adjourned.
(bell dings) (audience claps) - [Narrator 2] For information on upcoming speakers or for podcasts of the City Club, go to cityclub.org.
(stinger music) - [Narrator] Production and distribution of City Club forums on Ideastream Public Media are made possible by PNC and the United Black Fund of Greater Cleveland Incorporated.