With cranes in the sky and construction workers swarming everywhere, downtown Cleveland is witnessing an impressive construction boom. Yet beneath the clouds of dust, a not-so-subtle changing of the guard is also taking place, as baby boomers retire and young people step into leadership posts.
The generational handing off of the baton appeared to be in display last week at the annual "State of Downtown" address, an event that is sponsored by the Downtown Cleveland Alliance
. The sold out crowd included a diverse, intergenerational group of business and nonprofit leaders.
To further enhance downtown Cleveland's vibrancy, civic and business leaders must engage young people from across different sectors to make it a better, more innovative place, said Lee Fisher, President of CEOs for Cities
and a panelist at the City Club forum. "Cross-sector, cross-generational urban leaders are the greatest area of growth in cities, but we don't always walk the walk," he said. "It's not enough to have talent; we must also harness it and connect it."
Jeffrey Finkel, CEO of the International Economic Development Council
, bemoaned the lack of corporate leadership in downtown Cleveland, yet said this is unsurprising given today's economy. He cited Eaton leaving downtown for the suburbs as one example. "You need to look at family-owned, growing companies for leadership," he said. "When they hire a Harvard MBA, you've lost."
Joe Marinucci, President of DCA, suggested the need to look beyond corporate leaders to young entrepreneurs. "Look at new businesses such as Nexus Cafe, Hodge's and Cleveland Pickle," he said. "These are homegrown entrepreneurs."
Source: Lee Fisher, Joe Marinucci, Jeffrey Finkel
Writer: Lee Chilcote