Civic Task Force on International Cleveland
Recommendations to the City of Cleveland
December 2003

Harvey Freiman, Jewish Community Federation
Howard Gudell, Ohio-Israel Chamber of Commerce
Richard Herman, Richard Herman Associates, Esq.
Abigail Horn, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, CSU George Koussa, Koussa Consulting
Kathy Lenarcic, World Trade Center Cleveland
Cheryl Lewis, Jewish Family Services
Jennifer McGill-Rupp, Council of International Programs-USA
Caroline Pegelow, Case Western Reserve University
Leon Polott, BioEnterprise
Lisa Purdy, Council of International Programs-USA
Ellen Roberts, World Trade Center Cleveland
Mark Rosentraub, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, CSU
Algis Ruksenas, International Services Center
Sam Thomas, Weatherhead School of Management, CWRU
Luis Vazquez, Cuyahoga County Employment and Family Services
Brad Whitehead, Cleveland Foundation
David Yen, World Trade Center Cleveland
David Silk, British American Chamber of Commerce

City Officials:
Lewis Adkins, Executive Director of Strategic Planning
Subodh Chandra, Director, Department of Law
Conor Coakley, Cleveland City Planning Commission
Tim Mueller, City of Cleveland, Chief of Strategic Planning
Chris Ronayne, Director, Cleveland City Planning Commission

Group Meetings:
May 19, June 30, July 14, July 25, September 8

September 17, 2003

Civic Task Force on International Cleveland


A major goal of Mayor Jane Campbell is to grow Clevelandís population to at least 500,000 residents by 2010. To meet this goal, Cleveland will need to retain its current population and attract new residents. Increasing the cityís international base is an integral part of the Mayorís plan for Strategic Action Partnerships. Most growing cities in the United States in past decades have grown due to an influx of people from outside the United States.[1] Cleveland has benefited from this in the past. Today, we have an excellent opportunity to revitalize Clevelandís economy through continued internationalization of Clevelandís population and employment opportunities.

One Line Vision Statement

Suggested Options:

Three Pillars of the Vision

Local Growth Through Internationalization

Globalization includes expanding the market for local products overseas and attracting foreign investment to Cleveland. By capitalizing on the opportunities of globalization, Clevelandís economy will grow and create new jobs to employ local residents. Economic revitalization also occurs through attraction of new international residents to start new businesses, fill key skilled industry needs, stimulate demand in our housing markets, and expand consumer markets.

Cleveland has a competitive advantage in the global market. There are 236 foreign-owned companies employing approximately 60,000 in the eight-county Cleveland CMSA.[2] Cuyahoga County leads all other counties in Ohio as a base for foreign companies. In terms of international exports, Ohio ranks sixth in the nation, and Cleveland supplies approximately one-third of these exports.[3] Cleveland has resources and infrastructure to develop more extensive connections. The region is well situated for attracting foreign investment because it provides excellent access to domestic and foreign markets. Within 500 miles of the Cleveland market is 42% of the U.S. population and 44% of U.S. effective buying income[4]. The region offers great infrastructure and human resources. Cleveland offers well-developed distribution infrastructure via water, air, rail and road. It also offers a prime geographic location; a multi-lingual population; a huge market for foreign products (imports are the precursor of foreign investment); and diverse, growing industries (healthcare, biotech, high-tech, polymers, material science, system controls, and machine building). As an added incentive to investment, Cleveland is designated a lower investment zone by the INS so foreign entrepreneurs only need $500,000 to invest in a business to get a visa and gain access to the market.[5]

Building on the Strengths of Clevelandís International Neighborhoods and Communities

Newcomers to Cleveland find a plethora of nationalities, languages, and organizations to understand and meet their needs. Cleveland currently boasts international communities from 117 countries.[6] The existing communities provide a strong social network to newcomers to help welcome and settle them in.

Although the city and countyís population have decreased across the past few decades, foreign-born residents continue to move to the region. Cuyahoga County attracted 33,018 foreign-born residents between 1990 and 2000[7]. Asian and Hispanic populations in the county grew approximately 50% from 1990 to 2000. The metro area also has a fast-growing Middle Eastern community, ranked as the 11th largest in the nation.[8] In addition, Cleveland area graduate schools attract 2500 foreign-born graduate students each year[9]. This influx represents a continuation of Clevelandís rich cultural heritage.

The Cleveland community has well-developed resources to serve newcomers. Local ethnically based chambers of commerce act as clearinghouses for immigrant entrepreneurs. Newcomers of any faith will find a diverse selection of places of worship and almost all ethnic groups are represented in the Cleveland dining-out experience. Ethnic commercial corridors provide an identifiable community for immigrants and nurture entrepreneurial potential.

Cleveland also has broad cultural, academic, and civic assets to build on and promote. From its excellent universities and medical institutions to its museums, symphony, and theater, Cleveland has the cultural infrastructure to draw and retain new residents. Opportunities for informal cultural experiences such as music festivals, sports leagues, and dance events abound.

Cleveland can capitalize on these existing resources to attract new residents. These types of assets appeal to immigrants, who first and foremost are driven by connection to others of the same nationality. An ethnically diverse, tolerant community also attracts the ìcreative class,î artistic and professional workers who value quality of place.[10]

Leading Destination for International Business and Population

The United States remains the top destination of choice for skilled, foreign-born nationals.[11] Cleveland should become a leading destination for these skilled individuals. Among Northeast Ohioís strengths are biotech, healthcare, advanced manufacturing, instrumentation, and material sciences. These industries will benefit from growth in bilateral trade, attracting foreign firms that add to our regional competitiveness.

In addition to the international communities and business assets discussed earlier, Cleveland offers the warmth of a friendly small city with the cultural opportunities and amenities of a larger city. The local government and local organizations welcome the prospect of working with a larger international population. We offer a destination where the cost of living is low and housing is both attractive and affordable.[12] These attributes make Cleveland a great place to live and for business development. If properly promoted, we can attract people and businesses from elsewhere in the United States as well as from foreign countries.

Proposed Action Items

The Civic Task Force on International Cleveland recognizes the clear commitment of this administration to help transform Cleveland into an international metropolis. With this in mind, two tiers of actions that build upon the three vision pillars are proposed. The three vision pillars are:

Under each pillar, several action items are listed. They are tied to efforts of existing organizations, with concrete outcomes, which will benefit from the interplay of the cityís leadership. For each action item, a second tier of recommendations suggests the types of leadership Cleveland could best provide. These are straightforward items, generally requiring no budget line, that focus on communication, priority setting, and sending a consistent message.

The Task Force believes each of these items is important. However, given budget limitations of both local government and the participating organizations, the timeline for completion of each priority is uncertain. The members of the Task Force and their partners within the city government are committed to seeking out the necessary funding to realize these priorities.


1. Build strategic partnerships with foreign markets

The World Trade Center Cleveland (WTCC) has identified strategic foreign markets for Clevelandís economic development over the next ten years. It has developed a comprehensive plan for penetrating these markets and promoting Cleveland to them as an important trade partner.

o Working with Cleveland State Universityís Business School, the World Trade Center     Cleveland will provide competitive intelligence to local companies to facilitate market penetration in target countries.
o WTCC will organize inbound and outbound trade missions that provide exposure to Clevelandís businesses and send an on-going message of Clevelandís international opportunities.
o WTCC is enhancing its research capabilities to target investment-ready prospects and to market the region internationally.

Leadership Role for the City:

o Meet with trade missions and express the cityís commitment to international trade and facilitate their entry into the regionís market. Articulate the type of assistance the City can provide.


Engage 5000 individuals in WTCC business/education programming

Outcome: Provide 50 inbound/outbound trade missions

2. Facilitate the entry of foreign businesses to Cleveland

World Trade Center Cleveland is developing office space that will be offered to foreign companies to help facilitate the establishment of businesses in Cleveland.

o The space will be at an initial low cost and will offer support services such as translation and assistance with credit.
o This initiative will work in conjunction with the creation of a World Trade Center Cleveland building (see subsequent section).

Leadership Role for the City:

o Work with the WTCC and the Greater Cleveland Growth Association to clearly articulate a package of incentives/assistance for international companies to attract and to facilitate their entry.
o Help solve the problems faced by international companies when they try to find local financing. The city can work with the WTCC and local banks to identify a means of providing credit to international businesses.

Outcome: Facilitate the entry of 50 foreign businesses in Cleveland


1. Create a Cleveland Coalition of International Organizations

Cleveland has approximately 65 entities ‚ non-profit and governmental -- working on international issues. Unfortunately, many of them do not know of each other and their efforts are not coordinated. To project a common message to the world about international Cleveland, they need to be brought together under a loose umbrella to facilitate dialogue and cooperation. CIP-USA will take the lead on organizing the Cleveland Coalition of International Organizations. It will not be a new organization but rather a coalition of organizations working toward a common goal: economic development through internationalization. This involves attracting people, business, and tourists to Cleveland while educating the population about the cultural and economic importance of internationalization.

The Coalition is a logical continuation of this Civic Task Force. It will strive to be inclusive and an important resource for City Hall. It could provide quarterly recommendations to the city about:

The coalition should monitor and measure progress towards internationalization.

Leadership Role for the City:

o Take the initial lead on bringing together a core group of international organization directors to show the cityís interest in such a Coalition and to mobilize the groups behind the idea.
o Request that the Mayor be a member of the Coalition and provide her assistance seeking financial support for its members.

Deliverable: Cleveland Coalition of International Organizations up and running with broad membership

2. Proclaim 2004 the Year of International Cleveland

Anyone involved in international issues in Cleveland recognizes that it is already a very international city. Unfortunately, many Clevelanders do not realize this; nationally it is not perceived as an international center; and internationally, it is generally off the radar screen. Numerous international organizations in Cleveland are ready to rally around a year of promotion of our international resources to change this image.

o The newly created Coalition of International Organizations will develop a calendar of all cultural, artistic, academic, sporting and business events throughout the year. Many are already planned as annual events. An illustrative list includes:
o Promote the cityís international neighborhoods, festivals, businesses, restaurants, and events more broadly. For 2004, develop stronger visual identities along main ethnic commercial corridors.

Leadership Role for the City:

o Task the Greater Cleveland Convention and Visitors Bureau with developing promotional materials and packages to promote the year of international activities.
o Extend formal invitations to each country to attend the International Childrenís Games and to bring business trade missions with them in selected industries, particularly those in polymers, instrumentation and controls, paints, biotech, LCDs, fuel cells, and automotive.
o Request that the community development department and CDCs work with ethnic neighborhoods to develop identifiable commercial/cultural corridors through signage and other methods.
o Add national flags around Malls A, B, and C (or another visible public space) to give a visible and colorful international appearance to the city.

Outcome: Cleveland recognized in national and international media for its international endeavors in 2004.

3. Make use of our existing international communityís contacts abroad

The International Services Center, Jewish Family Services, World Trade Center Cleveland, the International Community Council, and others all recognize the untapped resources of Clevelandís international communities. Individuals in these communities have important business, government, and family connections in their home countries that could be tapped for Clevelandís benefit.

o The WTCC plans to collaborate with these communities to develop trade missions.

JFSA, ISC and other groups will work with these communities to facilitate the attraction of skilled workers to move to Cleveland.

Leadership Role for the City:

o Make a special effort to reach out to each international community to express their importance to the city and its growth.
o Task ethnic community leaders to attract new residents and new businesses from their home country. Set a goal of ten new residents per nationality each year. Consider creating incentives for international communities to use their networks to attract investments.

Outcome: Over 1300 skilled foreign-born workers attracted

III. Leading Destination for International Business and Population

1. Communicate all Cleveland has to offer

Cleveland needs to do a better job marketing itself internationally. Very few people abroad have any image of Cleveland, let alone a positive one. A public relations campaign should be developed, in conjunction with Clevelandís international community, that sings its praises (top hospitals, top orchestra, top art museum, second largest theater district in US, birthplace of Rock and Roll, etc). The international community is ready to assist in this effort.

o The World Trade Center Cleveland currently has a website that provides information to foreign companies interested in doing business in Cleveland. They are seeking to enhance that website to promote Cleveland and to serve as a clearinghouse of information for companies and potential new residents. By working with the proposed Coalition of International Organizations, the website could be The International Cleveland site and include information on housing and neighborhoods, training programs, schools, how to get needed licenses, immigration services, translation, houses of worship, shopping, legal aid, etc. It could also contain a calendar of events for international Cleveland (events, films, trade missions, restaurant openings, special religious events, etc).
o Market Cleveland globally as a center for the development of technologies in the areas of: fuel cells, LCDs, biotech, polymers, IT, and other technologies.

Leadership Role for the City:

o Collaborate on publishing an International Cleveland newsletter. It will tie-in to the website described above and would be an important marketing tool.
o Create an International Cleveland web page within the Cityís website that links to the external web page above as well as all other appropriate resources and partners. Provide the Cityís electronic welcome to all things international.
o Collaborate with the Ohio Department of Development Overseas to aggressively market the city to foreign businesses and governments.

Deliverable: Launch International Cleveland Website

2. Attract and retain foreign students through internships and assistance with visas

The World Trade Center Cleveland has started a Foreign Graduate Student Internship program that aims to provide internships in area businesses to foreign-born graduate students. These students, with their language skills and knowledge of different cultures, are great assets to Cleveland businesses looking to move into international markets.

Leadership Role for City:

o Meet with university presidents to discuss recruiting more international students.

Outcome: 3150 internship placements

3. Advocate for changes to foreign visa legislation

Task Force members identified long delays and problems for many people seeking visas (including L1, H1, and J1) to the United States. For Cleveland, this means that even if we are successful in attracting foreign students, investors, and employees, they may not be able enter the country within a reasonable timeframe. The political landscape behind these visa barriers is not likely to change in the near future although advocacy in this area could begin to change the tide. One type of visa, however, may very well have a good chance of being reintroduced and expedited: the HIA visa for nurses.

The healthcare sector plays a pivotal role in Clevelandís economy. Unfortunately, Cleveland, like the nation as a whole, faces a shortage in qualified nurses. Recruiting foreign nurses from English-speaking countries such as India and the Philippines is an excellent solution, however, there is currently no short-term non-immigrant worker visa available to nurses[13]. Bringing a nurse in with Permanent Residency (Green Card) takes approximately 11Ž2 to 2 years. The H1A work visa was terminated in 1997; it allowed tens of thousands of nurses to enter the U.S. quickly to alleviate a nursing shortage. Congress may be interested in reintroducing this visa. Representatives of Senators Voinovich and DeWine have indicated an interest in discussing possible immigration solutions to the nursing shortage, which research indicates is putting U.S. patients safety at risk.

This effort will involve advocating for a change in visa legislation as well as facilitating the accessibility of US nursing licensing exams in foreign locations, recruitment, and helping foreign nurses assimilate to Cleveland. Members of the Task Force are willing to participate in a core planning committee to push these efforts forward.

Leadership Role for City:

o Leverage Clevelandís position as a national leader in health care in order to lobby our Congressional delegation to revive the Immigration Nursing Relief Act of 1989. Convene a meeting with leading hospital and nursing executives in Northeast Ohio to seek their support on the H1A visa. Include them in a core planning committee.
o Invite Clevelandís Philippine and Indian communities to partner in this effort. These communities contain many medical professionals with substantial networks in their home countries. Include them in a core planning committee.

Outcome: Increase the foreign nursing population residing in Cleveland by 10,000

4. Establish Cleveland World Trade Center building

Cleveland already owns the rights to the internationally respected name World Trade Center. The time is right to establish a building downtown that carries that name and serves as a shining beacon of international Cleveland. All tenants would have access to a receptionist, shared conference space, duplication services, and potentially teleconferencing capabilities. The World Trade Center Cleveland is currently looking at building options and has high hopes to make this move quickly with the right people on board. The following details would probably be added in phases.


In addition to housing the WTCC, the downtown building would offer space to:

    Nonprofit organizations that provide services or assistance to the international community

    International businesses seeking to establish a presence in the Cleveland market (as described in earlier section)

    Entrepreneurs in key international markets (e.g., Israel, Russia, India, China)

    Government offices (local, federal and foreign) that work on international issues.

    Local companies providing services: visa assistance, translation, market research, relocation services, IT, accounting services, legal services, etc.

o The World Trade Center Cleveland building would provide a supportive and comprehensive welcoming environment for businesses and people considering the move to Cleveland. By housing all of the international service providers together, a person looking to move to Cleveland has a centralized point of contact. Collaboration between organizations is facilitated and access to assistance and services is eased. Existing programs and services for the international community can be packaged in an appealing, one-stop manner.

Leadership Role for City:

o Support the international community in securing a building to house the World Trade Center Cleveland.
o Work with the international organizations to market the ìpackagesî of business and social service incentives available at the World Trade Center Cleveland building.

Deliverable: A World Trade Center building established

[1] According to the 2000 Census, immigration accounted for nearly 60% of the population growth in the U.S. between 1990 and 2000. Six metropolitan areas ‚ New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, Miami and San Francisco ‚ account for nearly 50% of the 13,178,276 foreign-born arriving in the US in that decade.

[2] World Trade Center Cleveland, 2003.

[3] World Trade Center Cleveland, 2003.

[4] Greater Cleveland Growth Association, 2003.

[5] The INS allots 10,000 EB-5 visas per year for foreign investors seeking permanent U.S. residency and whose investments directly result in the creation or preservation of at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers. Of these, 3,000 visas are for those who invest in targeted areas such as Cleveland. The actual number of these visas awarded is much lower.

[6] R. Zitiello and R. Herman. ìIn the New Global and Multicultural Marketplace, Immigrants Hold a Key to Revitalizing NE Ohio,î 2003:9.

[7] US Census, 2000.

[8] Zitiello, 6.

[9] World Trade Center Cleveland, 2003.

[10] Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class (Basic Books: New York) 2002.

[11] According to Richard Herman, a Cleveland immigration lawyer, these skilled individuals have access to visas with one major exception: nurses. Despite an estimated shortage of 800,000 nurses nationally expected by 2010, foreign nurses cannot help fill this gap until the H1A visa law is reenacted. This will require advocacy on behalf of NE Ohio.

[12] The cost of living index for Cleveland, OH was 97.4 in 2001, or 2.6 percent below the national average. The national average is 100. This compares favorable to those cities that are currently attracting the most international population. (Greater Cleveland Growth Association, 2003).

[13]Other than the H1C visa, which is limited to qualifying medical facilities in designated underserved areas, and is limited to a maximum of 25 to 50 visas per state per year, depending on the stateís population.


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