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
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