On June 25th, CREW Cleveland gathered via Zoom meeting with some of the bright minds on the forefront of navigating Cleveland through our current times. The event panelists were:
- David Ebersole – Director of Economic Development, City of Cleveland
- David Gilbert – President & CEO, Destination Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission
- Joe Marinucci, President & CEO, Downtown Cleveland Alliance
- Moderated by: Mary Forbes Lovett – Partner, Ulmer & Berne LLP
The panelists were asked difficult questions about where we go from here considering the pandemic and recent protests surrounding systemic racism. When asked about how to attract people back to the city, the panelists agreed that continuing the development pipeline, addressing systemic racism, and priming Cleveland for tourists were among the top priorities. Development projects such as the Lumen, 75 Public Square and the Sherwin Williams project are still well underway and systemic racism has been declared a public health crisis, brining it to the front of the list for discussion in Cleveland.
Regarding tourism, the city realizes that we won’t see a return to 2019 levels until possibly 2023 – 2024, but the panelists agreed that Cleveland needs to be ready for a change in how tourists travel. They are planning on the potential of increased people coming into the city via car (so targeting people within driving distance), and the potential of Clevelanders who live in the suburbs coming downtown for “staycations”.
To aid in these tourism efforts, the city announced restart Cleveland, which offers favorable loan terms for small businesses, particularly restaurants, to help with operating expenses under new safety protocols such as buying masks, disposable menus, putting up partitions and ventilation systems.
There is also talk of potential uptick in the Cleveland residential market. With remote work becoming the norm, it is believed Cleveland could be an attractive place to live given the cost of living and amenities available. Individuals could live in Cleveland, while working for companies located in New York, Chicago or anywhere across the country.
Another area of focus for Cleveland is the Convention Center. With bookings being cancelled due the gathering restrictions, the city has been aggressively working with event coordinators to allow them to keep deposits if they agree to rescheduling the event in 2021 and beyond. This collaboration is ensuring a strong pipeline for Cleveland’s future.
With so much uncertainty, it is difficult to know what the future holds. But Cleveland’s brightest, including our panelist, are hard at work to prepare for a rebound in every way possible. Our city is resilient. This too shall pass, and we will emerge stronger for it.
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