Sometimes, an outside perspective is needed. And I like to think I bring that outside perspective to the Cleveland area. I moved here from the New York City area in the summer of 2022 when I assumed the presidency of Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C®). And I have noticed two things in that short time: Cleveland and the broader Northeast Ohio region have so much to offer. And even some lifelong residents don’t seem to realize it.
Columbus may be the state’s capital, but Cleveland can make a strong case for being Ohio’s cultural capital, as the city has a rich and vibrant cultural scene that rivals many cities — even bigger cities — around the country.
Cleveland also has the resources to become Ohio’s career capital. We have growing industries and educational institutions to train talented people and connect them with career opportunities.
Consider the statistics:
- Northeast Ohio is a global leader in smart manufacturing, with 7,000 manufacturing companies and nearly 250,000 manufacturing workers in the region.
- Aerospace has an impressive $3.2 billion cluster in Northeast Ohio.
- Northeast Ohio ranks as the fifth-largest financial sector in the U.S. It has the fifth-most Fortune 500 and Fortune 1,000 company headquarters and is the location of a Federal Reserve Bank.
- Cleveland is home to the Cleveland Clinic, the No. 2-ranked hospital in the world, and other globally recognized health care facilities. There are 700 biomedical businesses and 270,000 biomedical and health care workers in the region.
- Northeast Ohio has the second-highest concentration of corporate headquarters employment among the top 20 U.S. metro areas, with 187,000 workers supporting headquarters and professional service operations regionwide.
The hundreds of thousands of workers in the above sectors demonstrate the talent that is already here. But many thousands of jobs still go unfilled. There is an immense demand for additional talent in many of our industries, and higher education is a key cog in the machine that will draw that talent to Cleveland and Northeast Ohio — not just from across the state but from throughout the nation.
The name of that machine is “collaboration.” Our higher education institutions must continue to broaden and strengthen our partnerships with school districts, industry associations, the business community and other stakeholders in a united effort to drive the economic development that will make this region a destination — a place to which people move to begin their careers and build their lives.
People will arrive in Cleveland not just for a job but for the means to attain gainful, sustainable employment. To make that happen, we must have more than “help wanted” signs outside our businesses; we must have a robust system that trains, upskills and matches employees with employers.
We at Tri-C realize this. We are committed to being a lifelong learning partner for both the thousands of individuals who walk through our doors (or take virtual classes) every year and the scores of businesses that seek our assistance to educate their work force. We draw students from across the region, nation and world, and 85 percent of them stay and work in Northeast Ohio.
Take it from someone who is from New York: Cleveland is still one of America’s great cities. Let’s work together and make its future even greater. Let’s turn this into the career capital of Ohio and beyond.
Michael A. Baston is president of Cuyahoga Community College