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Innovation & Job News

Next stop for entrepreneurs in search of unique housing is Shaker Heights



Shaker Heights is bringing in creative folks via refurbished homes designed with the entrepreneur in mind.
 
Nine rental units are available at two homes on Chelton Road in the city's Moreland district. As spearheaded by the Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland (NHS), these private units are short-term living options for people willing to share common space with their fellow entrepreneurs.
 
Renters sign month-to-month leases for $394.50, which includes a private bedroom and access to common kitchen, bathroom, living room and dining room areas. All utilities are included, as are entrepreneur-friendly perks like high-speed internet from the OneCommunity fiber network. Living rooms and attic space, meanwhile, come with built-in "whiteboard" walls for sharing innovative ideas.
 
"Entrepreneurs are only responsible for their own lease and can stay for a particular time frame," says Marge Misak, land trust program director at NHS. "It's an easy in for business people."
 
The idea is to provide single start-up owners with an inexpensive option to help jumpstart their businesses. Since the program launched three years ago, tenants have been mostly app creators and other tech-related innovators. Some worked nearby at The Dealership (formerly Shaker LaunchHouse).
 
More recently, the homes - one a single-family, the other a double - have been occupied by students from the Tech Elevator coding boot camp. Program supporters including NHS expect more business owner occupants once The Dealership settles into the community.
 
Ultimately, coordinators want the homes to be part of a larger innovation hub - a plan on the books since the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program provided grants for renovation work in 2013.  After the suburb restored the structures, ownership was turned over to NHS, which sees the Moreland district as an "innovation zone" with the potential to become a focal point of Shaker Heights - an assertion Fresh Water has previously explored.
 
"There's an excitement in the neighborhood as a place for artists and the creative class," says Misak. "When you do that, you get everyone thinking about the talents they can bring to the table."
 
Talent retention is another program facet, Misak notes. High demand for creatively reused rental units could be a springboard that attracts an economy-driving start-up demographic searching out more permanent lodging.
 
"This is very aspirational," says Misak. "We want to make connections between entrepreneurial residents and the neighborhood." 

The City of Shaker Heights is part of Fresh Water's underwriting support network.

Read more articles by Douglas J. Guth.

Douglas J. Guth is a Cleveland Heights-based freelance writer and journalist. In addition to Fresh Water, his work has been published by Midwest Energy News, Kaleidoscope Magazine and Think, the alumni publication of Case Western Reserve University. A die-hard Cleveland sports fan, he also writes for the cynically named (yet humorously written) blog Cleveland Sports Torture.   
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