On Monday, April 26th, Greater Ohio attended a symposium on Building the Ohio Innovation Economy. Co-sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, University of Akron, Case Western Reserve University, Morganthaler—a venture capital firm—and Nortech—a northeast Ohio technology economic development group—the symposium was held in Cleveland and brought together regional, state, and federal leaders to discuss innovation. Panelists from federal agencies, private sector companies, think tanks, universities, and philanthropic foundations offered a range of ideas of how to capture, support, and encourage the innovative work being done throughout Ohio, and especially in northeast Ohio. Lavea Brachman, Greater Ohio Policy Center's executive director, provided a state-policy perspective and made the case that the private sector will have to lead the state in innovation—especially in supporting industry clusters as a regional economic development strategy—but that state and local governments must provide the right conditions for the private sector. In urging for governance reform and strategic investments that can help Ohio lead the next economy, Brachman argued that state policy could be pivotal in clearing the way for growth in interconnected businesses, and that the state should join with local and regional players to create a climate for innovative growth.
From L to R: John Fernandez, assistant secretary of the Economic Development Administration, a sub-agency of the US Department of Commerce; Lester Lefton, president of Kent State University; Lavea Brachman, executive director of Greater Ohio; Ronn Richard, President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation.
Brachman’s co-panelists pointed to the role the federal government and philanthropy in encouraging cluster development. As they, and speakers on other panels affirmed, building an innovation economy requires a multi-pronged strategy that knits together and syncs federal, state, local, private and public programs and officials. Jim Leftwich, the new director of Ohio Department of Development, publicly committed the state to developing and supporting Ohio’s innovation economy.
Greater Ohio is heartened by the idea streams brought together by the symposium and the number of stakeholders who are deeply invested in building Ohio’s innovation economy. We look forward to reform and creation of state policies that can further support this work.