Low ranking for high tech

Northeast Ohio’s economic development lags behind other metropolitan areas with similar demographics. This is the bad news that National City Bank and the Northeast Ohio Software Association brought to area business leaders at a City Club program in September.

Not all of the news is bad, however. The Metropolitan New Economy Index, a study funded by the Progressive Policy Institute and Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management, identified what Cleveland business leaders need to do to meet the high-tech challenge.

Robert Atkinson, Ph.D., vice president and director at the Progressive Policy Institute in Washington, D.C., and Paul Gottlieb, associate director of the Center for Regional Economic Issues at CWRU, co-authored the study, which pinpointed areas in need of strategic focus.

How did Cleveland rate? Researchers analyzed indicators including work force education, manufacturing exports, new publicly traded companies, Internet backbone, high-tech jobs and venture capital outlays. The overall economy ranked No. 33, behind Detroit, Indianapolis and Buffalo. San Francisco scored highest with a ranking of 95.6 percent, compared to Cleveland’s 29.5 percent.

While Cleveland holds its own in the number of managerial, professional and technical positions, it ranks in the third quadrant and trails far behind comparable cities when it comes to looking outside city limits to provide goods and services to the world.

So what does the Cleveland business community need to do? Atkinson and Gottlieb suggest following the lead of other successful regions.

  • Get better, not cheaper.
  • Know your region’s function in the global economy.
  • Create a skilled work force.
  • Invest in an infrastructure for innovation.
  • Create a great quality of life.
  • Foster an innovative business climate.

  • Take regional governance seriously.

The push toward high tech is already underway. Upcoming programs centering on high-tech challenges in Northeast Ohio are Tech Transfer and Amenities, Dec. 19, and Creating a Tech Mecca, Jan. 16th. How to reach: NEOSA, (216) 592-2257; National City Bank, (800) 738-3888; Progressive Policy Institute, (202) 547-0001 or www.ppionline.org; The Center for Regional Economic Issues at Case Western Reserve University, (216) 368-5535

Center for Regional Economic Issues