Posted on Crain’s Cleveland Business January 31, 2014

Forbes magazine recently named Cleveland as a “haven” for startups and entrepreneurs.

I’m not surprised.

Cleveland — and really, all of Northeast Ohio — is in the process of a major shift. No longer able to rely on manufacturing alone, the region is busy trying to reshape itself as a hotspot for technology, healthcare and other 21st century businesses.

The key ingredients here? Forbes nailed it when it said: “… With affordable real estate and a surprisingly deep pool of talent buoyed by accelerators like LaunchHouse and JumpStart — much of which has sprung from the State of Ohio’s Third Frontier early-stage investment program — there’s been a strong effort around cultivating a startup ecosystem.”

In other words, we have a high-support, low-cost environment that makes it ripe for startups and entrepreneurs.

Northeast Ohio offers low rents in comparison to places such as New York City, Boston, California, and we provide a host of financial resources to get started and grow.

There’s LaunchHouse, FlashStarts, JumpStart and Bizdom, to name a few.

What’s really great — and what I see working with companies in our recruiting and hiring business every day — is that established entrepreneurs are more than willing to help those starting out.

Take Cavaliers owner and uber-entrepreneur, Dan Gilbert. He brought his Quicken Loans business to Cleveland and also created Bizdom, invests in startups, grows them in a dedicated downtown space and then assimilates them into his dozens of Rock Ventures companies.

Gilbert, like so many other entrepreneurs, wants to keep and attract top talent here. That’s one of our biggest challenges.

A good chunk of the existing labor force is only skilled for the old manufacturing jobs. The new jobs often require different and more advanced skills, particularly in technology.

We have to keep the college graduates who have those skills; attract others with them and re-train the existing, unskilled workers to fit into the changing economy. Then, we have to match them with the new businesses.

This is not a new challenge nor are we alone in facing it. It’s happening all over the country, although to a much lesser degree in some places with larger populations and more educated talent.

But it’s exciting that a business magazine like Forbes recognizes what’s happening here. I see it every day.

Now, we need to continue to cast the net all over the country to really shine a light on Cleveland and share what’s going on here.

By: Robin Doerschuk, Director of Strategic Solutions at Alliance Solutions Group

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