Cleveland: Will new branding campaign bring more jobs?

CLEVELAND -- Tawanda Jolley is a college-educated home healthcare worker struggling to support three dependents on a job paying $8.50 an hour with no benefits that rarely provides 40 hours a week of work.

"This is Cleveland, this is Cleveland. The bright lights go out, " she says.

She lives in Cleveland, but it's really a world away from the new downtown nightlife that's part of the new Cleveland image and brand being rolled out Wednesday by Positively Cleveland.

"I don't participate in any of that. I really don't know about that. That's party. I'm survival," she said.

Tawanda was chosen to speak at a press conference making the case to raise the minimum wage, telling about her struggles.

U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge claims raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would lift many children out of poverty and actually save money by reducing money paid out in welfare costs.

She also hopes the new Cleveland brand has some spinoff benefit for Clevelanders and neighborhoods.

"We've spent a lot of money downtown. That's wonderful. Now it's time to spend our resources and tax dollars on people that need it most. People who work hard should share in the benefits of those who come here and make a lot of money," Fudge said.

The new campaign is mainly about visitors and what's commonly called "heads in beds" in the hotel and hospitality industry.

But Positively Cleveland's David Gilbert believes some job creation should be a secondary effect of the campaign to attract more interest and visitors.

Of course, more visitors could mean more jobs in the hospitality industry.

"The more people will visit here, the more people will look for jobs here and, maybe, start a business here," he said.

Tawanda hopes there's a spinoff benefit for her and other struggling Greater Clevelanders.

"How is Cleveland going to get ahead if we are not all working together? I'm not asking for the world. I'm asking to be compensated and acknowledged," she said.

Asked what she would tell a friend who asked whether to visit or move here, she said, " Visit definitely, not to live."


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