Economy

Business news

photo of shipping container
WKSU

The City of Youngstown could soon add a business incubator on its south side, made up entirely of shipping containers.

The project would convert the containers into small store fronts for entrepreneurs who may not be able to get financing to start a business, or who don’t have enough start-up capital to invest in a traditional building.

The city is studying the cost of the project as well as how to connect the containers to utilities.

WKSU

Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown is encouraged that President Donald Trump is planning ways to bypass the World Trade Organization, which both believe is unfair to the U.S. They say the WTO almost always sides with other countries, especially China, in disputes involving dumping steel in the U.S.

WKSU

Hotels along the I-77 corridor between Akron and Canton have been feeling the downturn in the oil and gas industry. In the last few years, more than a dozen hotels opened in that area, mainly to serve that industry’s boom in eastern Ohio and western Pennsylvania. Now, there are too many rooms and not enough customers.

STR Global, a company that tracks the hotel industry, says between 2014 and last year, hotel occupancy in the Akron area dropped about 6 percent.  In Canton, the drop was about the same.

JEFF ST.CLAIR / WKSU

Today’s entrepreneurs are developing new models for launching a business. There’s more emphasis on collaboration than ever before.  And a new group in Akron is working to bring together the elements entrepreneurs need to succeed.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair looks at how Launch League is feeding Akron’s start-up ecosystem.

Old Packard plant
Tim Rudell / WKSU

Plans are proceeding for bringing a major industrial operation to the  century-old Packard Electric site in Warren.  It’s the idea of a former Warren-native now living in California who says it could create 800 to 1,000 local jobs.

Although he is a successful West Coast developer, Christopher Alan is still fond of his home town. That’s one reason he chose it as the site for all design and manufacturing for the automated parking systems company he owns.

First Energy Posts Loss to Restart Future

Feb 23, 2017
First Energy downtown Akron
Tim Rudell / WKSU

Akron-based First Energy lost $6-point-2-billion last year as it began taking steps to get out of the competitive energy business and back into being a regulated utility.  

Big financial hits came from the “writing-down”—recognizing on the books the lost value—of its failing power generation elements. CEO Chuck Jones told an investor conference call that the nuclear plants may even have to be scrapped. “Absent something to raise the value of these units and make them attractive to a buyer, there’s only one way for us to exit this business.”

photo of Jason Segedy
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

The plan to renovate Akron's City Center Hotel could lead to greater development in an area that’s slowly seeing people move downtown.

Cuyahoga Falls-based Testa Companies plans to invest $25 million in the building. The hotel had struggled for the past decade before closing last year. The proposed redevelopment would set aside six floors for a new hotel, and the rest for apartments.

Akron City Planner Jason Segedy says it’s one of several much-needed projects downtown, along with the Landmark Building and the United Building.

Cleveland Mayor Outlines 2017 Budget Proposal

Feb 21, 2017
Mayor Frank Jackson
RICK SENFTEN / WKSU

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson has laid out his plans for hiring workers and expanding services using the millions of dollars raised by the income tax increase approved by voters last November.

The mayor’s 2017 budget proposes more than $40 million in new spending on city departments. It adds 65 police patrol positions as well as about a dozen higher-ups. Jackson also wants to hire additional building and housing inspectors.

Team NEO

The biomedical industry’s growth in Northeast Ohio continues to outpace other sectors in the region. 

The latest economic review by Team NEO shows bio-medical companies have grown by nearly 60 percent since 2000. The regional economic development organization’s Jacob Duritsky says total growth across all regional sectors during that period has only been about 10 percent.

He says Northeast Ohio now has 700 biomedical companies.

photo of Highland Square
VIVIAN GOODMAN / WKSU

A new report says parts of Akron are ripe for new housing, while other neighborhoods could be hot spots if they get some new investment.

The study from the Greater Ohio Policy Center is titled “Build In Akron,” and it looks at all 24 of the city’s neighborhoods with regard to boosting population and housing values.

photo of Cavs home court
ERIK DROST / FLICKR

A coalition of Cleveland faith groups is requesting a meeting with the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers about the proposed $140 million renovation of Quicken Loans Arena.

The Cavaliers are putting up half the money for renovations at The Q. Greater Cleveland Congregations has been vocal in its opposition to the plan to use public money for the other half. Now, they're requesting a meeting with Dan Gilbert to see if some funds can be sent back into Cleveland's neighborhoods.

photo of Global Cleveland working with immigrant entrepreneuers
COURTNEY OTTRIX / GLOBAL CLEVELAND

Two Cleveland groups are creating a program to encourage immigrants to launch startup businesses in Northeast Ohio.

The partnership between Flashstarts and Global Cleveland is planning to work with local universities to obtain visas for immigrant entrepreneurs.

Ohio AFL-CIO members protests Secretary of Labor nominee
Karen Kasler / STATEHOUSE NEWS BUREAU

A group representing 650,000 union members in Ohio opposed the nomination of Cleveland-native Andrew Pudzer as President Trump’s secretary of labor. Puzder withdrew his name from consideration this afternoon, but a progressive think tank says whoever heads that agency is critical to working Ohioans.

What happens at the U.S. Labor Department is very important when it comes to Ohio," says Hannah Halbert with the liberal leaning Policy Matters Ohio.

Eric Salard / Flickr

Starting this week, Cleveland Hopkins International Airport will be the nation’s only mid-sized airport with the three biggest ultra-low cost carriers. Allegiant Air begins service Wednesday joining Spirit and Frontier.

Magnet

A survey of more than 300 small- and medium-sized Northeast Ohio manufacturers shows a mix of optimism and concern about the regional economy.

The business-climate poll was conducted by the manufacturing advocate organization Magnet. CEO Ethan Karp says nearly 60 percent of the respondents reported optimism and expect to expand. He believes a lot of that confidence stems from the election of President Trump and business owners’ perception of what his proposed polices will mean for them.

Passengers boarding a SARTA bus in Canton
SARTA

The head of Stark County’s transit system is predicting major cuts to public transportation under Gov. John Kasich’s proposed state budget.

SARTA CEO Kirt Conrad says a sales tax levied on some health care services in 2010 has helped the agency partially recover from the recession. But the tax could be repealed this summer unless Gov. Kasich expands it to all managed-care organizations in Ohio.

Judge Michael Russo
Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court

Update:The state is planning to appeal the ruling striking down H.B. 180.

City leaders in Cleveland and Akron are praising a judge’s permanent injunction against the state law banning local hiring standards for publicly financed projects.

GREATER CLEVELAND REGIONAL TRANSIT AUTHORITY

A new study finds the jobs along Cleveland’s HealthLine corridor have nearly doubled since the state-of-the-art transit route was completed in 2008.   

photo of Thomas Malone
SUMMA HEALTH

Summa Health CEO Thomas Malone resigned today after a turbulent two years leading Summit County's largest employer.

S Max 3D printer
The ExOne Company

Additive manufacturing — commonly called 3D printing — is a fast-growing technology in northeast Ohio.  And Tuesday it got bigger, literally. 

“Sixteen tons and what you get?”  A 22-foot long high-tech machine that creates sophisticated sand-casting molds for complex metal parts.   

KEVIN NIEDERMIER / WKSU

Northeast Ohio is experiencing a big jump in demand for industrial warehouse and distribution space. And the election of President Donald Trump could have something to do with that.        

Terry Coyne of commercial real estate brokerage firm, Newmark  Grubb Knight Frank, says last year developers built hundreds of thousands of square feet of manufacturing space, mostly without committed tenants.  He says clients usually request space nine to 12 months in advance. But that changed after the election.

Former General Motors Lordstown plant
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

GM's announcement this week that it's investing a billion dollars in its U.S. operations will have no direct effect on 1,200 people in Lordstown. They're the third shift at the GM plant and this week, they lose their jobs. WKSU’s M.L. Schultze reports on the layoffs and what’s next for Lordstown.

GM Lordstown plant
KABIR BHATIA / WKSU

Editor's note: We'll have more coming on the Lordstown layoffs Thursday morning on WKSU.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST: The day of Donald Trump's inauguration is also the last day for the midnight shift at the General Motors assembly plant in Lordstown, Ohio. About 1,200 people will lose their jobs. Trump blames GM production in Mexico. As M.L. Schultze of member station WKSU reports, the reality and reaction in Lordstown is more complicated.

Picture of a dredging operation in Cleveland's shipping channel
PORT OF CLEVELAND

The Port of Cleveland is looking toward continued growth in 2017, after seeing a slight dip in cargo last year.

The Port says last year’s numbers are on-par with growth over the past several years, but showed a 1 percent drop due to a spike in tonnage in 2015. With the strong dollar cooling demand for goods from the U.S., shipments were down throughout the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Evaluation of Cracker Project Nears an End

Jan 16, 2017
Ohio RIver near plant site
CC BY 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50015749 / Wikipedia

The decision on whether to build a multi-billion-dollar cracker plant in eastern Ohio is expected by the end of March and key environmental permits may already be in place.

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