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Economy and Business

Northeast Ohio's JobsOhio program rolled out
Team NEO will head the program, and adjust its economic development focus

Kevin Niedermier
JobsOhio Director Mark Kvamme (L), Ohio Department of Development Director Christine Schmenk and Team NEO C.E.O. Tom Waltermire rolling out Northeast Ohio's JobsOhio program.
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In The Region:



Northeast Ohio economic development engine, Team Neo, is adjusting its focus in its new role as the regions’ partner with the state’s JobsOhio network.   JobsOhio is Governor John Kasich’s private-sector based economic development program, funded with millions in public money.  6 regional development agencies across the state make up the network.  And as WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports….today, Northeast Ohio’s program was rolled out.


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This week, Team NEO got four-point-one million dollars from the state’s Third Frontier program to be this regions’ Job-Ohio coordinator.  It is the largest chunk of the nearly 15-million dollars allocated for Jobs-Ohio partners.  Team NEO was picked because it has an established economic development system in place.  But, Jobs-Ohio interim director, Mark Kvamme, says Team NEO now needs to go beyond its primary role of attracting businesses to the region….


Kvamme:  “Outbound marketing and sale is a particular capability is very different from what I like to call inside sales.  Inside sale is retention and expansion, so what they need to do is develop a, in sales parlance you say you have hunters and you have farmers and gatherers.  Tom’s had a whole group of hunters, now it’s time to get some farmers and gatherers.”



Kvamme is referring to Team NEO C.E.O Tom Waltermire.  Waltermire says there are no concrete plans yet for the four-point-one million dollars, but some of it will be spent on hiring business growth and expansion experts…..


Waltermire;  “There are lots of wonderful people out there with lots of great ideas, not all of them are the best ideas, or the idea hasn’t really matured enough, so we’re really going to have to work with them to develop their idea. And the good ones, make sure we are very strong advocates for them at the state of Ohio.”


Team NEO will work with hundreds of economic development organizations in the 18 county region.  Many of them are in small towns like Shelby in Richland County.  During the question and answer session, Shelby development official, Erin Wiggen asked Kvamme how the smaller organizations will be treated.


Wiggen:  “On behalf of what I would call some of the border counties, Norwalk, Mansfield, Ashtabula, how can we be assured of a strong relationship with Team NEO, which historically has been seen as more of a Cleveland, Akron, Canton corridor organization?  Kvamme: ‘Basically, when we sat down to work with the regional organizations, we’re going to do a stack ranking of the organizations, and basically that’s going to be done by JobsOhio and each one of the individual counties.  So, each one of the regional organizations will stack rank JobsOhio, what they’re doing well and not doing well, we will do the same for the regional organizations, and then you will do it to them, and if they’re not performing, we’ll need to make changes.”



Some interested in the program’s success is Jim Boland of Northeast Ohio. The  former Cleveland Cavaliers…Sherwin Williams and Goodyear official is now chairman of the Jobs-Ohio board of directors.  He says Northeast Ohio needs to do a better job of training and re-training workers.


Boland:  “With technology where it is today, it requires proper education and training. JobsOhio will work with the regional areas to ensure that proper experiences, training to meet the particular needs of industry or medical outlets are available to fill these jobs.”


 Boland says Northeast Ohio has nearly 20-thousand unfilled jobs …and across the state, that number is 100-thousand. Governor Kasich is championing the new Jobs-Ohio program, which is shifting money and responsibilities from Ohio’s Department of Development to the private group.  Kasich says it will allow Ohio to respond quicker and more creatively to the needs of business.  But critics say it will siphon millions of dollars into a private venture with too little scrutiny and too much risk.  They have filed a lawsuit, saying the structure is unconstitutional.

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