Team NEO Event Focuses on Enabling Vibrant Economic Growth

CLEVELAND, Ohio – At its sixth annual ED NOW event Friday, Team NEO engaged more than 200 economic development professionals, elected officials and business and community leaders in discussion about what enables vibrant economic growth and the intersection of community development and economic development.

“Economic development is the ultimate team sport,” said Bill Koehler, Team NEO chief executive officer. “By bringing together these leaders in government and business, we are activating the entire network towards a common goal: building a vibrant economy that creates equitable and sustainable growth and prosperity.”

The event featured opening remarks from J.P. Nauseef, president and CEO of JobsOhio; panelists including state Rep. Gail K. Pavliga, R-72nd, and state Sen. Kent Smith, D-21st; and keynote speaker Tania Menesse, president and chief executive officer of Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.

The annual event is a program of the Ohio Economic Development Association and aimed to spark tangible, collaborative action to address critical economic priorities in northeastern Ohio. Discussions focused on two key areas: expanding access to affordable housing and increasing the availability of diverse talent for in-demand jobs. 

Developing readily available sites for business attraction and job creation in key locations that connect talent to jobs and affordable housing was highlighted as one strategy to make progress.

To help guide efforts, Team NEO tracks vibrant economic growth in northeastern Ohio and 12 peer markets across the United States through its proprietary Vibrant Economy Index, which contains more than 600 data points. 

The VEI includes insights into access to affordable housing and the availability of diverse talent for in-demand jobs, both of which were topics of discussion at the ED NOW event. 

Breakout sessions explored tools, strategies and policies that support investment in these areas.  

Jacob Duritsky, Team NEO’s vice president of strategy, research and talent, shared insights from the latest VEI Report on competitiveness and prosperity, released in conjunction with the event. 

“This report focuses on long-term outcomes – like gross regional product, employment and wages – which are driven by investments in the economic enablers of talent, innovation, equity and resilience,” Duritsky said. “It demonstrates areas of strength – like continued growth in wages and regional GDP – and the need for increased investment in key strategies, like closing the gap in educational attainment for people of color.”

Highlights of the report:

  • By 2030, GDP is projected to grow almost 15% due in part to advances in technology, with productivity also projected to grow 15%.
  • For GDP, all northeastern Ohio industries are projected to grow by 16% from 2018-2030, on par with the U.S.
  • Employment in some sectors, including information, professional, scientific and technology, is projected to grow faster than the availability of talent, creating an opportunity for the regional economic development network to continue to invest in targeted strategies to close the talent demand/supply gap.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.