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Talent Dividend : For Good

5 Talent Dividend Articles | Page:

clevelander's documentary offers real-life tales of rust belt revitalization

For some, the term "Rust Belt" conjures unpleasant images of empty factories, foreclosed homes and unhappy people wandering cracked streets, wondering when times will get better. But what's really happening in some of the Midwest's major cities, and how different is it from the way these cities are often depicted?

Jack Storey thinks he has an answer. The impassioned city advocate has created a documentary chronicling what he believes is a more accurate representation of resilient cities working on reinventing themselves.

"Red, White & Blueprints" is an examination of the strides being taken by Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Buffalo and Youngstown, highlighting the most innovative initiatives, individuals and ideas coming out of these cities.

"It's a positive movie about the Rust Belt, which nobody is really doing," says Storey, 30. "We're showcasing another side of these cities."

Storey, founder of the grassroots community development organization Saving Cities, spent two weeks in the summer of 2011 traveling and taking footage with friend Rick Stockburger. He met steelworkers and autoworkers, entrepreneurs and politicians, all with their own ideas on how to boost their respective homes. Locally, he interviewed figures including Gina Prodan from Unmiserable Cleveland and Katie O'Keefe, better known as "the pink-haired tattoo girl."

Storey, of Collinwood, learned just how tough Midwesterners are. More surprising was how deeply the people he met cared about their city's livelihood. "It was the most educational experience of my life," he says.

"Red, White & Blueprints" debuted this week at Cleveland International Film Festival. (Screens tonight at 6:30 p.m. on stand-by.) Storey hopes the film gives viewers a truer vision of what it means to live in Cleveland and other less heralded parts of the country.
SOURCE: Jack Storey
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

program connects students with opportunities in own backyard

During the mid-2000s, local newspapers ran stories with evocative phrases like "quiet crisis" and "brain drain" in lamenting the flight of young, talented minds from Cleveland.

Bob Yanega saw those negative headlines, too, and decided he wanted to do something about it. Yanega, a self-professed "serial entrepreneur" with a background in commercial construction and real estate, is the creator of Choosing Success Programs, a Cleveland-centric advocacy project aimed at area high school students.

The program provides live, in-school presentations showing students how to connect with the opportunities right in their own backyard. The goal is to motivate youth to become passionate, lifelong residents of Northeast Ohio.

"Many kids don't have parents who expose them to what's great here," says Yanega, of Larchmere. "We need to sell Cleveland to young people."

Yanega has been giving Choosing Success talks at local high schools for the last 18 months. Along with providing students with tips on college and career choices, he also mixes in a "sales pitch" about Cleveland, pointing to the city's affordability, increasing job rate and wealth of cultural options.

Choosing Success, under the umbrella of its parent organization The 1990 Project, recently received a boost as one of the winners of The Cleveland Colectivo's fast- pitch presentation event. The program now has a chance to get some much-needed funding from the giving circle, and Yanega believes his brainchild is worth it.

"We're presenting facts about the city," Yanega says. "Keeping the next generation in town is a powerful, broad-based message."

SOURCE: Bob Yanega
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

brain-gain project acts as online booster club for fans of cleveland

Do you love Cleveland?

That's the question asked and vociferously answered by the Brain Gain Cleveland Project (BGCP), a nonprofit advocacy group created to grow the city through the creativity and energy of its citizens.

BGCP was founded this spring by a group of lawyers working with the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association. The group, led by Jon Leiken of Jones Day, soon realized that the message BGCP was trying to spread wasn't just for legal types, but for Clevelanders everywhere.

Debra Mayers Hollander is no lawyer. She's a freelance marketer also serving as the organization's deputy director of scouting. "We're an online booster club," says Hollander of BGCP's mission. "It's an opportunity for people who love Cleveland to talk about Cleveland."

BGCP's website launched in March and has attracted about 350 “scouts," a term referring to its members, Hollander says. Scouts join for free, and are encouraged to create a profile on the site. Their involvement can include anything from simply adding themselves to the group's email list to creating Cleveland-centric events supporting local brain gain.

The organization has gained backing from local institutions including Greater Cleveland Partnership and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Another supporter is Dan Gilbert, who owns large stakes in the Cleveland Cavaliers, Horseshoe Casino and Quicken Loans.

BGCP is cranking up for a big 2013. The group hopes to surpass 1,000 members soon, and hosts its first event of the new year at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum on Thursday, January 10.

"We have such a diverse group of people committed to this already," says Hollander. "There are many ways to shape a city."  

SOURCE: Debra Mayers Hollander
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

(i)cleveland connects college students to city's live, work and play opportunities

The current generation of soon-to-graduate college students is not just looking for a job, but also a fun and dynamic city that suits its lifestyle needs, says Christy Walkuski, director of (i)Cleveland.

This reality is the impetus behind an upcoming city-centric event hosted by Cleveland Leadership Center. On January 4, (i)Cleveland, a program of the leadership center, will welcome 150 college students and recent graduates to connect with career, civic and social opportunities in Cleveland.

The Winter Edition event will include a networking lunch with downtown executives, a meet with Cleveland's entrenched young professional community, behind-the-scenes tours of East 4th Street's amenities, and an "employer showcase" of current internship and job opportunities.

Combining job and leadership possibilities with highlights of Cleveland lifestyle trumpets a single, distinct message: "The city wants you here," says Walkuski. "Young people have the ability to make their mark on Cleveland."

Walkuski has read the worrisome headlines about young people leaving Northeast Ohio for the bright lights of bigger cities. The (i)Cleveland director herself lived in Chicago and Florida before returning to her home city.

"When I came back, I saw Cleveland with new eyes," says Walkuski.

Opening the eyes of college students requires a community-wide effort. The "Winter Edition" program aligns with (i)Cleveland's mission of using local assets to build relationships and foster lifelong civic engagement. Registration is limited, so Walkuski suggests prospective participants sign up as soon as possible.

"We have a huge education base here," she says. "We must continue to engage this (college-aged) population, because if we don't recruit them, someone else will."

SOURCE: Christy Walkuski
WRITER: Douglas J. Guth

cleveland foundation president touts civic innovation at annual meeting

Before a packed house at Severance Hall, Cleveland Foundation President Ronn Richard touted the city's accomplishments in becoming a hub of innovation and taking bold steps to address big problems at the foundation's annual meeting this Tuesday.

Waxing poetic on the gilded stage for a moment, Richard harkened back to the foundation's early days in the 1910's as a time of tremendous innovation in Cleveland. "I still wonder if the past might be prologue," he mused, noting that the foundation's centennial is just two years away. "Can we envision the spirit of a second renaissance in Cleveland?"

Richard also posed a challenge to civic leaders to remain focused on true economic development and social change within the city. "Physical development, as wonderful as it is, must be coupled with investment in people and placemaking," he said, noting that the building spree of the 1990s was too focused on bricks and mortar projects. "We need to invest in connecting communities."

Among the foundation's projects, Richard touted the Cleveland schools plan that recently passed the state legislature, ongoing investments in high quality urban education, economic development programs such as the HealthTech Corridor and the Evergreen Cooperatives, and programs to connect new audiences to the arts.

Richard also told the audience that later this year the Cleveland Foundation will unveil a new microlending program for entrepreneurs seeking loans under $50,000 to help spur job creation and assist the creation of startups.

Source: Ronn Richard
Writer: Lee Chilcote
5 Talent Dividend Articles | Page:
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