Perspective: Another Cleveland "Good News" Story

CLEVELAND -- The good news machine has been cranking overtime in Cleveland the last couple weeks.

The Republicans are coming! LeBron's returning home! A shiny new Cuyahoga County Building's open for business! A big megabucks donation is boosting the makeover of Public Square!

This story may not warrant and certainly won't get those supersize headlines.

But it is worthy of more attention than it got.

It's a very cool and very positive story generating pride for one Cleveland business that may spread when more people become aware of it.

You had to read between the lines of a recent press release from Senator Sherrod Brown about a Cleveland company getting a Federal contract.

It was a $41 million win for a company I'd never heard of. I thought there might be a good story behind the story. There was.

Northstar Contracting's a business around E. 116th and Harvard.

Councilman Zack Reed who prides himself on knowing his ward like the back of his hand did not know much about it.

It's in a frankly tired looking factory building that gave no clue of the interesting and important work going on inside that will soon put the company on a national stage.

It's assembling big panels that will be the first thing-facade visitors see when they visit the new Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The components are coming from New Jersey and Washington state.

It's a first-of-it's-kind procedure in the construction biz.

The eight-year-old company was formed by Stephen and Pamala Coleman. The biracial couple met in the military while serving in the military in Italy. He was in the Navy . She in the Air Force.

They now try to hire as many workers who are veterans from Cleveland.

The company had done work for clients including NASA Glenn, Cleveland State, The Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District.

But nothing with this visibility, importance and sizable price tag.

They had to pass muster and impress an assortment of sophisticated groups and fine arts panels and convince them the small firm could deliver this precision work.

Humble Stephen says he was really nervous making those presentations.

As an African American, Stephen Coleman says he is proud to be part of a project that defines the African-American experiences.

His wife, Pamala, says African American history is America's story and has been overlooked for too long.

They have three sons.

11-year-old Coleman is excited and proud of his parents involvement and looking forward to seeing the museum's Martin Luther King exhibit.

The museum will be in the shadow of the Washington monument and assemble material drawn from other museums and collections covering slavery, the struggle for civil rights and African American history makers.

President Obama, who will have his own exhibit, says the monument will be "a monument for all time."

And a small Cleveland company will be proud of its big role. And Cleveland should share that pride once the story spreads.

Follow WKYC's Senior Political Correspondent Tom Beres on Twitter: @TomBeres


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