Doubling up: MAGNET, EDGE join forces for economic and leadership development in NEO

Partner Content

The Manufacturing Advocacy and Growth Network (MAGNET) and Independence-based EDGE announced on Monday, Sept. 18 that the two Cleveland-based companies focused on growing business and industry in Northeast Ohio would join forces to create a more impactful resource for growing businesses in the area.

“It’s a rare moment when two strong nonprofits say, ‘Hey, we’d be better together than if we were apart,’” says MAGNET president and CEO Ethan Karp.

MAGNET aims to make the region a global leader in smart manufacturing with its Make it Better: A Blueprint for Manufacturing in Northeast Ohio, which includes four pillars: talent, transformation, innovation, and leadership.

This blueprint is intended to create 30,000 jobs and boost the regional economy by $40 billion over the next decade.

EDGE promotes economic development across many industries by fostering leadership development and business growth. “The vision EDGE has is leadership development cohorts at all levels—CEOs learning from other CEOs, HR professionals learning from HR professionals—it’s a peer-to-peer learning model to make sure there’s leadership development for everyone.”

Additionally, EDGE hosts its cross-industry innovation forum, InnoQuest; hosts the EDGE Fellows program with graduate students; and administers Burton D. Morgan Foundation’s premier business education program, Scalerator.

Ethan Karp, president and CEO of MAGNETEthan Karp, president and CEO of MAGNETPut the two companies and their programs together, says Karp, and Cleveland has a powerhouse team to support business, leadership, and technology growth. “We want to scale all these things,” he says.

The two companies have been working for several months—“to decide whether and how we would do it,” says Karp, adding that while the decision was announced this week, EDGE’s team of five will officially join MAGNET’s 60-employee team in MANGNET’s new MidTown offices in January.

The EDGE brand will now be known as EDGE Powered by MAGNET.

“This not only secures the legacy and future of EDGE, it’s also exactly the kind of collaboration that makes sense,” EDGE founder and president Kirk Neiswander said in a statement. “Together, working in a powerful partnership, aligning our activities, and pushing progress in the same direction, our region will be stronger. We are excited to join MAGNET to help develop the next generation of bold leaders our region needs to prosper and grow.”

While MAGNET’s core focus is on manufacturing, EDGE is more diverse in the industries it serves, although Karp says about half of EDGE’s clients are in the manufacturing industry. “No, they’re not exclusive [to a particular business], and we’re not,” says Karp. “They will move into the MAGNET offices, and we’ll run our programs together. This is an exciting way to broaden our horizons.”

Kirk Neiswander, President and Founder of EDGEKirk Neiswander, President and Founder of EDGENeiswander, who started his company 20 years ago, initially approached MAGNET and told Karp, “Let’s look at what this could be.” Karp says he’s been impressed with Neiswander’s leadership. “You don’t see that many leaders who say, ‘this is my baby, now let’s go,” he says.

Peter Broer, CEO of Strongsville-based specialty medical lighting solutions provider Lumitex, has been on MAGNET’s board of directors since its inception and a client of EDGE (and the company’s predecessors) for more than 30 years.

Broer says the pairing of the two companies can only mean good things for the region.

“This is a very good match,” he says. “EDGE broadens MAGNET’s impact. MAGNET is very strong in the strategic and the technical. EDGE broadens it to the human side of business…. MAGNET has always been very strong with technical consulting, and strategic consulting, and has now expanded to the education sphere to introduce [students] to manufacturing.

“What this joining of forces does is expand MAGNET’s ability to bring a wider offering to its client base on the human side of business,” he continues, “developing people and enlarging people's view of what they can do in their jobs. And I think that's very important because, frankly, with the shortage of talent we have these days, it's all about upskilling people and growing people.”

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: Karin Connelly Rice

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.