Updated: Aug 26
Justin Bibb is the 58th mayor of Cleveland, Ohio. He was elected in 2021 at the age of 34, making him the city's youngest mayor in over a century. Bibb is a Democrat and a former nonprofit leader. He is known for his progressive policies and his commitment to making Cleveland a more equitable and inclusive city. But one of the most engaging characteristics of Mayor Bibb is his genuine ability to identify and acknowledge the city's challenges, which is always the first step in finding any real solution writes James Dean, Director SCS.
Mayor Bibb was born and raised in Cleveland's tough southeast side, so he knows the city's most intimate needs. He attended Trinity High School and Case Western Reserve University, where he studied urban studies and public policy. After college, Bibb worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company and then as a program officer for the Cleveland Foundation. In 2017, he co-founded the nonprofit organization Teach for America – Ohio.
Bibb entered the 2021 mayoral race as a political outsider. He ran on a platform of economic development, public safety, and education reform. He also pledged to address the city's racial disparities, winning a close mayoral race.
Since taking office, Bibb has made progress on a number of his campaign promises. He has created a new Office of Violence Prevention, increased funding for affordable housing, and expanded access to early childhood education. He has also worked to improve the city's public schools and to attract new diverse businesses to Cleveland.
As I write this article, I reflect on the many personal and business development reasons to invest in Greater Cleveland, Ohio. Here are just a few that come to mind:
Affordability: Cleveland is a relatively affordable city to live in, both for businesses and individuals. The cost of living is lower than in many other major cities, and there are a number of tax breaks and incentives available to businesses.
Talent pool: Cleveland has a strong talent pool, with a highly educated workforce. The Greater Cleveland area is home to several universities, including Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland State University, Oberlin College and Conservatory and the University of Akron. The public schools rank very high compared nationally in the Greater Cleveland area.
Business-friendly environment: Cleveland is a business-friendly city with a strong commitment to economic development. The city has a number of resources to help businesses succeed, including a skilled workforce, a robust transportation and infrastructure network, and a variety of business incentives. And the Cleveland International Airport is very convenient for travel. While the IX Expo Center located near the airport is ideal for trade show events and conventions.
Strong economy: Cleveland's economy is growing and diversifying. The city is home to a number of Fortune 500 companies, and it is a major world class hub for healthcare including the prestigious Cleveland Clinic ranked#2 hospital system in the world, numerous manufacturing firms, and advanced technology research. Cleveland is also home to the NASA Glenn Research Center.
Professional Sports and Entertainment: Cleveland is home to the Browns NFL football team, Cleveland Guardians MLB baseball, Cleveland Cavaliers NBA basketball, and several family friendly amateur professional teams such as the Monsters Hockey at the Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse and Crushers Baseball.
Cultural amenities: Cleveland is a city with a rich cultural heritage dating back to 1796. The city is home to a number of excellent museums, theaters such as Playhouse Square and The Cleveland Orchestra, among other cultural attractions.
Quality of life: Greater Cleveland is an area with a high quality of life. Both Cuyahoga county and Lorain county to the west of Cleveland offering extensive family friendly parks, trails and beautiful green spaces, and it is located on the shores of Lake Erie, one of the largest clean water resources in the world. Winter weather on the Westside of Cleveland into Lorain county is increasingly mild we find.
These are just a few of the key reasons to invest in Greater Cleveland, Ohio. The city is a great place to live, work, and do business. The people are very friendly, intelligent and down-to-earth. A real sense of pride in the community is noticeable among residents in the area.
Here are some specific investment opportunities in Greater Cleveland:
Real estate: The real estate market in Greater Cleveland is on the rise. The city of Cleveland has a low cost of living and a strong economy, making it a good place to invest in real estate with solid growth opportunities in neighborhoods such as Tremont, Ohio City, Shaker Heights, Kamm's Corner, Goodrich-Kirtland Park, Slavic Village, and blocks along Westside Market.
And West and South of downtown Cleveland, maybe 15 to 30 minutes drive lie tremendous real estate development investment places like Amherst, Rocky River, Lakewood, Westlake, Bay Village, Avon Lake, Sheffield, Mentor, Chagrin Falls, Independence, Brecksville, Broadview Heights, Berea and Beechwood which all offer very high quality public school systems that consistently rank in the top tier of U.S. education.
Businesses Development: The City of Cleveland offers a variety of tax incentives to businesses that locate or expand development in the city. These incentives can include property tax abatements, sales tax exemptions, and payroll tax credits.
Property tax abatements: Businesses that make new investments in Cleveland may be eligible for property tax abatements. These abatements can reduce or eliminate property taxes for a specified period of time.
Sales tax exemptions: Businesses that sell certain goods or services in Cleveland may be eligible for sales tax exemptions. These exemptions can save businesses money on sales taxes.
Payroll tax credits: Businesses that create new jobs in Cleveland may be eligible for payroll tax credits. These credits can offset the cost of payroll taxes.
The City of Cleveland also offers a variety of other incentives to businesses, such as grants, loans, and technical assistance. For more information on tax incentives and other business assistance programs in Cleveland, please visit the City's website.
Here are some specific examples of tax incentives that are available to businesses in Cleveland, Ohio :
Enterprise Zone Tax Abatement Program: This program provides real property tax exemptions to businesses that locate or expand in designated Enterprise Zones. The entire City of Cleveland has been declared an Enterprise Zone.
Job Creation Grant Program: This program provides grants to businesses that create new jobs in Cleveland. The amount of the grant is based on the number of jobs created.
Municipal Small Business Initiative: This program provides grants and loans to small businesses in Cleveland. The goal of the program is to help small businesses grow and create jobs.
These are just a few examples of the many tax incentives and other business assistance programs that are available in Cleveland. If you are considering locating or expanding your business in the city, I encourage you to contact the Cleveland Economic Development Department for more information.
Venture capital and Startups in Cleveland : Venture capital investments in Cleveland have been on the rise in recent years. In 2022, venture capitalists invested over $500 million in Cleveland-area startups. This is up from just $170 million in 2017.
The growth in venture capital investment in Cleveland is being driven by a number of factors, including:
A strong startup ecosystem with a number of high-potential companies
A supportive government that offers tax incentives and other assistance to startups
A growing pool of experienced venture capitalists who are familiar with the Cleveland market
The increase in venture capital investment in Cleveland is a positive sign for the city's economy. It is helping to create jobs, attract new businesses, and boost innovation.
Here are some specific examples of venture capital investments in Cleveland in recent years:
In 2022, venture capitalists invested $100 million in Root, a Cleveland-based startup that provides artificial intelligence-powered legal services.
In 2021, venture capitalists invested $75 million in Standard Cognition, a Cleveland-based startup that develops self-checkout technology.
In 2020, venture capitalists invested $50 million in DriveItAway, a Cleveland-based startup that provides car sharing services.
These are just a few examples of the many venture capital investments that have been made in Cleveland in recent years. The growth in venture capital investment is a sign of the city's growing economic strength and its potential to attract new businesses and create jobs.
If you are looking for a place to invest, Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio is a great option. The area has a lot to offer investors, including a strong economy, a talented workforce, and a variety of investment opportunities.
Most recently, Goldman Sachs is among companies driving innovative business development opportunities in the city of Cleveland. Here are some ways that Goldman Sachs is investing in Cleveland, Ohio:
10,000 Small Businesses initiative provides $500 million investment to help entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity
10000 Small Businesses Fellows program: Cuyahoga Community College is a pilot site for this program
Investment banking, investment management, and securities services: Goldman Sachs offers these services to clients
Business program: Targets southeast Cleveland
But Justin Bibb's tenure as mayor has not been without challenges. Particularly, areas east of the city have struggled with high crime rates and a lack of economic opportunity. Recently, Mayor Bibb and Ohio Govenor, Mike DeWine announced a joint crime task force of DEA, ATF, FBI, State and local police to sweep the city clean of violent repeat offenders. This crime crack-down is combined with detailed business development plans including East Cleveland.
Like a breath of fresh air for Greater Cleveland and Northeast Ohio, Mayor Bibb has consistently shown a willingness to take on tough challenges and to work for change. He is a young, smart and energetic leader who is committed to making Cleveland a better place for all. But most important he's an honest hands-on leader not shy about learning the details with genuine enthusiasm for the diverse community writes James Dean, Director SCS.
Note additional specific goals and initiatives that Mayor Bibb has set out to achieve:
Stabilize the budget: Bibb has pledged to balance the city's budget and to reduce its reliance on federal and state funding. He has also proposed a number of new revenue-generating measures, such as a tax on vacant properties.
Inclusive economic recovery: Bibb wants to create a more equitable economic recovery for all Clevelanders. He has proposed a number of initiatives to support small businesses, to create jobs in the green economy, and to improve access to affordable housing.
Housing for all: Bibb believes that everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to live. He has proposed a number of policies to address the city's housing crisis, such as increasing the supply of affordable housing and providing rental assistance to low-income families.
Violence prevention and public safety: Bibb is committed to reducing crime and violence in Cleveland. He has created a new Office of Violence Prevention and has increased funding for police and social programs.
Closing the digital divide: Bibb wants to ensure that everyone in Cleveland has access to affordable high-speed internet. He has proposed a number of initiatives to expand broadband access, such as providing free internet to low-income families.
A modern and transparent City Hall: Bibb wants to make City Hall more efficient and accountable to the public. He has proposed a number of reforms, such as creating an independent ethics commission and making city records more accessible.
Education for everyone: Bibb believes that every child in Cleveland deserves a quality education. He has proposed a number of initiatives to improve the city's schools, such as increasing teacher pay and expanding early childhood education.
Lead-safe Cleveland: Bibb is committed to making Cleveland a lead-safe city. He has proposed a number of measures to address the lead poisoning crisis, such as testing all homes for lead and providing remediation services to families in need.
These are just a few of the goals and initiatives that Mayor Bibb has set out to achieve. While he is a young and energetic leader who is committed to making Cleveland a better place for all. Only time will tell whether he will be successful, but he has certainly made a good start.
In addition to his work on these specific issues, Mayor Bibb has also made a number of other contributions to the city of Cleveland. He has worked to improve the city's image and to attract new businesses and residents from across America. He has also been a strong advocate for the city's arts, music, culinary and cultural education community.
One of the most under-utilized areas in the city of Cleveland is the beautiful Lake Erie waterfront area. Cleveland's waterfront is undergoing a major transformation. In recent years, the city has invested heavily in developing its lakefront, with a focus on attracting new businesses, creating jobs, and improving public access. Northeast Ohio including Greater Cleveland are very focused on preserving the clean water resource Lake Erie offers, and infrastructure developments have upgraded roads, waste water sewers and transportation.
And notable developments are occurring the North Coast Harbor, which is home to a number of major attractions, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, the Great Lakes Science Center, and the USS Carney. The area is also home to a number of new restaurants, shops, and hotels such as the Hilton Cleveland near Browns Stadium on the water.
While building a new Cleveland Browns Football Stadium is also being discussed, perhaps remaining in its current location in downtown along Cleveland's waterfront on Lake Erie.
Another major development is the Nautica Waterfront District in Cleveland, which is located on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River. The district is home to a mix of residential, commercial, and retail space, as well as a number of public amenities, such as a riverwalk, a marina, and a park.
The city is also investing in improving public access to its waterfront. A new land bridge is being constructed that will connect downtown Cleveland to Lake Erie. The land bridge will also include a public park and a beach that will provide families with a wonderful experience.
The transformation of Cleveland's waterfront is a major economic development initiative for the city. It is expected to create thousands of jobs and attract millions of visitors each year. The waterfront development is also expected to improve the city's image and make it a more attractive place to live, work, and visit.
Mayor Bibb is a rising star in Ohio and in my opinion national politics. He is seen as a potential future governor or senator. He is a young, progressive leader who is committed to making a difference. It will be interesting to see what he accomplishes in the years to come.
I hope this article was helpful and shines a positive light on the Greater Cleveland community which has so much to offer businesses and individuals alike. I work with many businesses, entrepreneurs and nonprofits, so feel free to contact me at 440-597-3964.