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Mission Possible: making Northeast Ohio a top draw for talent

The Cleveland Talent Alliance has a plan to succeed where other campaigns have fallen short.

CLEVELAND — Retaining and attracting talent is a vital component of what makes a city great. Cleveland has struggled in recent years but is launching a fresh approach to turn the tide.

Welcome to Cleveland Street!

Created during the recent women in cybersecurity conference -- and occupied by more than a dozen local companies, all with the same goal.

“It is always a competition really, to find the most attractive talent.”

Christina Johnson’s job is to bring the best talent to Hyland Software. Not only is she selling the company, she’s selling Northeast Ohio too.

“I think attracting people to Cleveland is a huge part of us as well.”

But now companies like Hyland, and recruiters like Johnson have more help --thanks to the newly formed Cleveland Talent Alliance.

“We want to grow the region, we want to grow the population of the region, we want to grow the population particularly in industries where we have a lot of jobs that will grow the economy and are difficult to fill. And I think that is going to be at the basis for everything we do,” explained David Gilbert, CEO of Destination Cleveland, one of the eleven non-profit and private entities that make up the Alliance.

Its goal? To make this region one of the fastest growing metro areas in the Midwest by 2030.
 

"This is the first time ever that we have had so many non-profits, who each touch this work in different ways. They are finally coming together and figuring out how they can work together collaboratively,” said Marianne Crosley, President and CEO of the Cleveland Leadership Center.

For example, while Destination Cleveland finds ways to make short-term visitors into new residents, the Cleveland Leadership Center works with college students already here for their education.
 

A recent survey found most college students don’t venture off campus into surrounding neighborhoods.

 “We currently retain 47% of our college graduates. If we can increase that through percentage points, we'll have significate economic impact for our greater Cleveland area,” said Crosley.

The challenge of retaining and attracting talent may sound familiar. There have been campaigns before to address the issue, but few had much success.

Crosley believes the Cleveland Talent Alliance will be different.
 
“This is a serious commitment that all of these non-profits are making, these economic development organizations. This time we are really going to make a difference," she said. 

Back at the Women in Cybersecurity convention, the Cleveland pitch is checking the right boxes for some students. 

"I want to be in a place that is diverse, has good food, and good weather," said college student Adaku Uchendu. 

"I think the city aspect of it really does make a difference to a lot of people when it comes to where they want to relocate," said Marina St. Louis who came to the convention from her college in Michigan. She'd never considered starting her career in Northeast Ohio, but after a trip down "Cleveland Street" she's definitely interested. 

"So 100% I definitely would come to Cleveland. I have enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I mean, I'm a state away and never thought about anything Cleveland-wise, but I'm really glad that I came," she said. 

The members of the alliance include Destination Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Partnership, Cleveland Leadership Center, Team NEO, Cuyahoga Count, Engage! Cleveland, JobsOhio, Global Cleveland, MAGNET, Fund for our Economic Future and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress. 

*Editor's Note: The video in the player above is from a previous report.