Pilot project an Economic Development Initiative For

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Cleveland Immigrant Business Development


An Economic Development Initiative For

Marketing, Retaining and Attracting Small Immigrant-Owned Businesses

Recommendations to:

Cuyahoga County Commissioners

Mayor Jane Campbell

Cleveland City Council Members

By: Rose Zitiello, Department of Community Development, Cleveland

Jay Gardner, Director of Bellaire-Puritas Development Corporation

Marc Abraham, Commercial Coordinator, Bellaire-Puritas Devel. Corp.

Richard Herman, Esq., Richard T. Herman & Associations, LLC


Job creation, repopulation, and rehabilitation of distressed housing stock, present the most difficult challenges to Cleveland’s West Side neighborhoods. Entrepreneurial immigrants are an untapped resource to help revitalize and repopulate the West Side neighborhoods. Why? Two reasons: high ratio of entrepreneurship in immigrant communities; and population growth in U.S. cities are predominantly driven by immigrant influx.
Some immigrant groups are two to three times more likely to start a business than those born in the U.S.
Two-thirds of all population growth in the U.S. from 1980 to 2000 came from immigrants and their children. Immigrants today tend to be younger than the median age of American-born, and in most cases they are imbued with a strong work ethic and an entrepreneurial spirit. Cities considered the most resurgent over the last 20 years, are cities with high-foreign born populations. Cleveland is near the bottom of the largest fifty American cities in terms of attracting this new wave of immigrants.

Promoting immigrant entrepreneurship in Cleveland will help counter the region’s abysmal record in generating new businesses, and in attracting immigrants to repopulate and revitalize its neighborhoods. Many potential Clevelanders are immigrants living in America’s overcrowded, expensive cosmopolitan areas, and who are interested in relocating to locations where there is entrepreneurial opportunity along with safe environments in which to raise their families.

Throughout the U.S., immigrant clusters have revitalized neighborhoods and spurred growth through small neighborhood proprietorship, real estate investment, technology start-ups, and international trade. In similarly-situated post-industrial cities, like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Schenectady, and Louisville, programs have been enacted to promote the growth and success of its existing immigrant communities.
The Bronx was brought back from the dead, not because of investment from large commercial chains or high-tech innovation, but because new immigrant entrepreneurship enlivened vacant Bronx storefronts, achieved more confident neighborhood safety, catalyzed more immigrant influx to replace the net out-flow of residents, and helped renovate housing stock.
A recent study of the Washington DC area shows that areas that are home to more immigrants have a much higher percent increase in property values than areas with less and immigrants and DC as a whole.

Over the past two years, media, civic, business, and political leaders have voiced strong concern that Cleveland is failing to capitalize on opportunities to attract and grow immigrant entrepreneurial and residential clusters:

It’s likely no accident, for example, that while the foreign-born population of the country shot up 57 percent from 1980 to 2000, from 19.8 million to 31.1 million, it actually sand 26 percent in Buffalo and its environs. In Pittsburgh, the decline was 23 percent; in Cleveland, 11 percent….And now Cleveland -- in earlier times known as a city of immigrants – has joined the ranks of cities seeking more immigrants. Civic and ethnic groups have mounted major community-wide forums…So the Cleveland area will be well-advised to create an “immigrant entrepreneurial center” to offer counsel and help grow immigrant-owned firms. And to telegraph – through immigrants’ global networks -- word that Cleveland has a welcome mat out and is anxious to become a vibrant multicultural mecca--- Its a fascinating prospect – Cleveland and other cities embracing immigrants for the energy and entrepreneurial vigor they bring

Neal Peirce, The Washington Post Writers Group

May 17, 2004

“Cities Scramble for Immigrants

(nationally syndicated article)

These businesses, where immigrants cater to each other and the community at large, are a hopeful sign that all isn’t lost in Cleveland. If they can thrive, then maybe other immigrant groups will find similar success. And together they point the way to the city’s long awaited and much-needed renaissance. Unfortunately, this isn’t happening fast enough. So called “new immigrants” from Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa aren’t coming here at the rate they’re settling in other parts of the nation, where they help fuel an economic boom. Our economy suffers from the lack of their energy and enterprise. …The best way to help the economy would be to welcome and support immigrants already here, so that they would help recruit their families and friends. When one immigrant does well and talks about it, others follow. Success could be contagious….This is Cleveland’s best hope to save itself. Over the next 50 years, the lion’s share of the nation’s population and economic growth will be linked to the influx o f people born beyond our borders….’Cleveland will age and die….if you don’t attract more immigrants to revitalize your economy, the best business to open in Cleveland will be a mortuary.’
Sam Fulwood III, Columnist

April 8, 2003

The Plain Dealer

“Immigrants Are City’s Future”

Cleveland Mayor Jane Campbell has set a simple, understandable and easily measurable goal: Return the city’s population to at least 500,000 by the 2010 census….As it reaches for 500,000, Cleveland must regain a skill that used to be one of its hallmarks: It once again has to attract immigrants. When this city mushroomed in the last century, up to a third of its population was foreign-born. The 2000 census found that less than 5 percent of Clevelanders were born overseas. Especially among older industrial cities, the ability to attract immigrants has emerged as the key factor in determining whether they continue to decline or enjoy renewed growth. Re-establishing Cleveland as a destination for immigrants won’t be easy….will require a broad community effort,. City Hall, foundations, businesses, universities and religious groups can help…ethnic groups that are here, even if in small number must be mobilized to reach out to their peers abroad or elsewhere in the country…work on multiple fronts to become a beacon for motivated newcomers can not help but give the city a needed jolt of energy and creativity.

Editorial Board, The Plain Dealer

July 29, 2003

The Welcome Mat: Cleveland Has to Make a Stronger Play for Immigrants, and the Help of Local Ethnic Communities Is Essential”
We are welcoming internationalism and racial/cultural diversity. Our wonderfully diverse city is home to people from 116 countries. Some see this as a challenge to make sure this melting pot doesn’t become a pressure cooker. But, I see this as perhaps one of our best opportunities. Great cities in this country—including Cleveland—have been built by foreign-born immigrants… A strategic attraction of immigrants will again be Cleveland’s priority…. Leaders such as Monte Ahuja, Anthony Yen, and Albert Ratner are working on ways to enhance the energy and entrepreneurial spirit that people from around the globe can bring to a community. After all, today we have only four percent foreign-born Clevelanders. At the height of our growth, the number neared 40 percent, which is the number in Toronto today.

Jane L. Campbell, Mayor of Cleveland

State of the City Address 2003

If Cleveland wants to grow, there is only one answer - immigrants….Opposition to immigrants and plain indifference to immigrants are killing Cleveland
Albert Ratner, Co-Chairman, Forest City Enterprises

June 29, 2004

“Spirit of Immigration: Economic Impact of

Immigrants in Cleveland” (panel series)

The goal of reaching 500,000 people in Cleveland, “could only happen through immigration.”

An immigration stream really does revive older, urban neighborhoods, especially commercial districts. Immigrants bring a lot of energy into a city and into a region.
David Goldberg, CSU Historian

July 13, 2003

The Plain Dealer

“Can Immigrants Save the Region”

April 1, 2001

The Plain Dealer

“Cities’ Growth Fueled by Wave of Immigrants”
They are the new huddled masses, the kind of fast-achieving immigrant group some civic leaders envision when they talk about repopulating Cleveland and its inner-ring suburbs with people who can revive neighborhoods and reignite the local economy.
Robert L. Smith, Reporter

July 13, 2003

The Plain Dealer

“Can Immigrants Save the Region”

Front Page, Headline, Quiet Crisis Article

When you think about what made us great a hundred years ago, we had an incredible influx of folks who built the economy. I think we would greatly benefit from doing that again. The question is, how do we make ourselves an international city again?
Brad Whitehead, Senior Economic Development

The Cleveland Foundation

July 13, 2003, The Plain Dealer

“Can Immigrants Save the Region”

Available data point to a rather strong relationship between metropolitan economic development and a growing population. . . . immigrants are attracted to growing areas and spur on further growth by virtue of their contributions to the local economy…. [In] theimmigration-spurs-economic-growth” scenario…immigrants also increase demand for affordable housing and low-cost transportation, leading to the revitalization of pockets of blight within central cities…. immigrants helped revitalize blighted areas in cities by cleaning and maintaining properties that would have otherwise been abandoned. Further, businesses are more likely to venture into an area, and developers are more likely to consider an area as a better risk for investment, if a stable residential base emerges. ..In Cleveland’s case, the downside to immigration – the prospect of increasing competition for jobs or of lowering average earnings – may be less likely than elsewhere, if national and local trends in terms of a relatively low immigration volume are to continue. Encouraging immigration might therefore be a component of a broader strategy to reverse neighborhood blight, increase housing and consumer demand, and supply an entrepreneurial base for the future.

Sanda Kaufman, Ph.D.

Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs

Cleveland State University

Immigration and Urban Development: Implications For Greater Cleveland, (available at: http://urban.csu/ruth_ratner_miller),

March, 2003

Today, we have an excellent opportunity to revitalize Cleveland’s economy through continued internationalization of Cleveland’s population and employment opportunities…Globalization includes expanding the market for local products overseas and attracting foreign investment to Cleveland. By capitalizing on the opportunities of globalization, Cleveland’s economy will grow and create new jobs to employ local residents. Economic revitalization also occurs through attraction of new international residents to start new businesses, fill key skilled industry needs, stimulate demand in our housing markets, and expand consumer markets….Newcomers to Cleveland find a plethora of nationalities, languages, and organizations to understand and meet their needs. Cleveland currently boasts international communities from 117 countries. The existing communities provide a strong social network to newcomers to help welcome and settle them
Civic Task force on International Cleveland

Convened by Mayor Jane Campbell

Recommendations to the City of Cleveland

December, 2003

Many people believe, including myself, believe [Cleveland’s] growth has stagnated because the region has not made the effort to reach out to those Latinos going elsewhere. A big part of the answer has to do with business community outreach, something lacking in the Cleveland area.

Adrian Maldonado, Hispanic Roundtable Cleveland

Director of Diversity/Procurement, Cuyahoga County

November 10, 2003

Cleveland Crain’s Business

The most effective way for Cleveland to repopulate and revitalize is to help its current immigrants already here prosper. Successful Cleveland immigrants will advertise their business success throughout the U.S. and the world, which will attract others interested in following in their footsteps.

Ben Johnson, Director

Immigration Policy Center in Washington, D.C.,

November 7, 2004

Roundtable Discussion on Economic Development in Cleveland Through Immigration

In an increasingly global economy, highly skilled and entrepreneurial immigrants provide the necessary bridge to the talent, business, and capital in their homelands. The risk-taking factor in the immigrant community, coupled with scientific accomplishment, internal networks providing seed capital, and access to inexpensive overseas labor markets provide a formidable combination for local economic development
Cleveland’s rich diversity and immigrant history provide a key to its future economic renaissance.
Rose Zitiello & Richard Herman, Go Global Cleveland

April, 2004

Reclaiming Cleveland’s Immigrant Entrepreneurs”

May, 2004

Making Globalization Work”

Inside Business Magazine

Cleveland must reconnect with the spirit of hard work, creativity, and innovation spurred by its immigrant population. Cleveland seems to have forgotten how its entrepreneurial immigrant population helped build this city around the turn of the century with innovative small businesses

Thomas Mulready, CoolCleveland.Com

July 23, 2003

Cleveland Magazine

It’s really immigration that repopulates cities. Inner cities, especially, have always been the first stop for immigrants.
Professor Mark Salling, CSU Census Expert

April 1, 2001

The Plain Dealer

“Cities’ Growth Fueled by Wave of Immigrants”

It looks like the leading edge of population and economic growth in the country is related to immigration
Audrey Singer, Researcher

The Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C.

March 1, 2004

Gateway appeal Lost, Cleveland No Longer

an Immigrant Magnet,” Cleveland Plain Dealer

Foreign-born professionals help form the nucleus of Cleveland’s economy.

Robert Sberna, Reporter

January 21, 2003

The Plain Dealer

“Immigrants Lead and Serve”

It is clear that successful cities have partnered with their immigrant , bilingual and minority communities to help build the necessary bridges to the global and multicultural marketplace. Multicultural Meccas with hyper global connectivity will dominate the 21st century.
Karthryn M. Hall

Then-Director of Diversity

Cuyahoga Community College Now-Director of Diversity

Case Western Reserve University

November 6, 2003

“From There … To Here. New Immigrants

Redefining Our Community”

(educational/civic event, 500 attendees)

This city was forged by immigrants. Its future lies in global competition

An annual report from the Institute of International Education noted that in 2002-2003, international students and their families had a $12.5 billion economic impact on the United States; in Ohio, the amount was $425 million. Great intellectual ability lies beyond U.S. borders. The question is whether we wish to welcome it, or send its benefits elsewhere.

Editorial Board, The Plain Dealer

August 4, 2004

Well Done: The International Children’s Games brought the world here, and provided a reminder of just how great this city could be”

Editorial Board, The Plain Dealer

July 15, 2004

Bringing in More Brains”

Based on the observations above, it is clear that there is an opportunity in the West Side Neighborhoods, many of which enjoy higher concentrations of immigrants and bilingual speakers than most other regions in the State of Ohio, to revitalize by providing programs and services designed to promote greater success for immigrant entrepreneurs.

While top-down, heavy government investment (i.e. new sports arenas and convention centers) have been unable to stimulate declining post-industrial cities, promoting the development of small, versatile immigrant businesses at the grassroots level can revitalize neighborhoods and attract a critical mass of new Clevelanders.
A good starting point is “Discover Lorain Avenue,” a print and web-based project that promotes the unique businesses, many of which are immigrant-owned, along the 8-mile stretch of Lorain Avenue. Funded by City Council representatives and banks in 2000, a key component of www.DiscoverLorainAvenue.com is to help immigrant business owners reach mainstream markets.
A logical extension of “Discover Lorain Avenue” is to create a West Side Immigrant Business Development Pilot Project which can serve as a virtual business outreach network to promote the creation and growth of immigrant-owned businesses in those neighborhoods. If successful, the Pilot Project could be duplicated throughout Northeast Ohio.


In 2000 City council representatives and banks agreed to provide funding to “Discover Lorain Avenue” a print and web based marketing project developed as an economic development tool to promote the unique retail, wholesale and commerical services found on the eight mile stretch of Lorain Avenue between the West Side Market and Rocky River Drive. Businesses located on this stretch of Lorain Avenue or one-quarter-mile north and south of Lorain Avenue are offered free business listings, web links, and special announcement opportunities on the Web site.

Annual funding is provided by City Council representatives Joseph Cimperman, Nelson Cintron Matt Zone, Jay Westbrook, Dona Brady, Martin Sweeney and Michael Dolan and Fifth Third Bank, Firststar and National City, and Local Initiatives Support Corporation.
The project steering committee chaired by Anita Brindza, Executive Director of Cudell Improvement and Rose Zitiello, Department of Community Development included representatives from Cudell Improvement, Westown CDC, Bellaire Puritas Development, Detroit Shoreway Community Development Corporation, AACCESS-Ohio and the Hispanic Business Association.
The project committee developed the design and content for this multi-media web based project. See below for the introductory pages and categories:

    The rich history of Lorain Avenue, that has not been diminished by the passage of time, is encompassed in an eight mile long legacy of Cleveland’s pioneering past and its fascinating future. Linking the landmark West Side Market to the thriving center at Kamm’s Corners is a thoroughfare which is thoroughly Cleveland.

    The enticing aspects of an avenue of old-fashioned charm are woven with the modern view of a metropolitan center. What was once a part of Cleveland’s early commercial beginnings is now a part of the city’s intriguing collection of shops, restaurants, markets, and entertainment establishments. Explore the rich heritage of the distinctive and diverse neighborhoods that converge upon Lorain Avenue to offer a cultural sampling of the people who make Cleveland such a unique urban area.

take the easy alternate
    Visitors to Cleveland can avoid the hassle and monotony of freeway driving by choosing the Lorain Avenue Cityside Route from the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport into downtown Cleveland. The airport rental car lot on Rocky River Drive is just minutes from Lorain Avenue (consult the Cityside Route Map). Urban exploration by foot or bus will bring an interesting shopping or sightseeing adventure, or perhaps a memorable ethnic meal without a fast food wrapper.

    Public transportation is a definite advantage. Three Rapid Transit train stations along the Lorain Avenue corridor serve this commercial strip with stations at West 25th Street, West 65th Street and West Park. Or, riders on the Regional Transit Authority (RTA) #22 bus can take advantage of “Stop Over Privileges.” Ask the driver for a transfer that can be used in a three hour span to board the bus up to three times in one direction. With transfer in hand, one can make three stops along Lorain Avenue to sample stores and shops anywhere along the route—all for the regular fare. Whether on foot, by car, by bus or by Rapid Transit train, Lorain Avenue’s offerings are easily accessible.

a ribbon of retail awaits
    Visitors to Lorain Avenue can experience antiques and amusements, entertainment and ethnicity all in one straight shot. Choose to begin a shopping spree at the historic West Side Market at West 25th Street and Lorain, or start at the vibrant Kamm’s Corners where grocer and postmaster Oswald Kamm set up shop in 1875. Oswald Kamm’s store is now a historically renovated restaurant and solidly establishes a village feel in an urban setting.
    Lorain Avenue provides a continuous route of retail offerings without the mall effect. The changing facades of the stores chronicles the Victorian and Italianate atmosphere of Ohio City to the modern styling of Westown Center. One can experience the contrasting retail where fabric and fish may be found in adjoining storefronts.
    Bicycle shops along Lorain have a proud history that began before the turn of the century and continue today. And, if your taste in bikes runs more to “hogs” than Schwinns, that’s okay because there’s a motorcycle shop—one of the nation’s top dealerships—as well.
    The diversity and distinctiveness of the retailers along the way is best explored and experienced for all their unique offerings. One may conveniently locate a scuba shop, a skating emporium, or a well-stocked Army/Navy store all within the stretch of Lorain Avenue.
    If one favors the eclectic, then it’s just the destination to discover New Age shops that are sure to engage one’s interests or at least provide some spellbinding shopping.
    Delight in the lighthearted with a visit to a costume shop, or browse the gift shops that specialize in the unique and unusual. Finding something special for those who are hard-to-buy-for isn’t a daunting task when one has an eight mile stretch of stimulating shopping options.

Business Categories | Real Estate/Business Opportunities | Related Links

Vendor Coupons | A Round of Applause
Contact Us/Directions | Post Your Lorain Avenue Business | Home

designed by Marinar

In 2001, the project was announced at a public reception hosted by the private and public project sponsors. Over 150 residents and business owners attended. As part of the annual project budget direct advertising of the web site through placement ads in the Plain Dealer, Cleveland Magazine, Ohio Magazine and direct mailings of the Convention and visitors bureau, and in 20003 RTA bus wraps contributed to the popularity of this site. Its success as an economic development and marketing tool can be measured by its traffic.

In 2003, 67,000 of the sites web pages were successfully downloaded by visitors in our region, nationally and internationally. Branding of the Discover Lorain Avenue logo and website has been overwhelmingly successful.
This year proposed additions to the site include an interactive map of the historic sites which includes landmarks, churches and other points of history unique to the area.
The website is already marketing the international and immigrant assets of Lorain Avenue. Expansion of the website with emphasis on attracting new immigrant businesses to the region can be achieved through a collective effort of the existing Technical Assistance and CDC organizations providing business training assistance to potential and existing immigrant business owners. There will be a special emphasis on connecting immigrant business owners to mainstream resources and opportunities.
For example in 2003, HBA and ACCESS-Ohio provided valuable technical assistance to over 100 Latino and Arab American Business owners who are in start-up or the first phases of business ownership or expansion.
The historical and contemporary contributions of immigrant-based businesses and residents to our City and region can not be ignored. National and local service providers, business leaders and institutions such as the Cleveland and Gund Foundation have begun critical discussions that focus on how Cleveland can maximize resources and opportunities to conduct better outreach to our existing immigrant business owners for growth and or expansion. Cities that pro-actively master these forces, rather than passively receive them, will be better positioned to create jobs that grow the local and regional economy.



One of the strongest opportunities for economic development in NE Ohio revolves around programs to support and cultivate immigrant entrepreneurship (both for high tech business and no-tech micro-enterprise) and attract immigrant high-tech talent to support the creation of new industries in NE Ohio.

While many governmental and non-profit agencies address the issue of small business1 and entrepreneurship2, there is little or no effort to include immigrant and non-English speaking communities. Despite being engines of growth, these communities face unique language, cultural, civic, and legal barriers to achieving greater business success in the U.S.

In some sense, this is a surprising gap inasmuch as immigrant entrepreneurship, innovation, and intellectual and financial capital is widely viewed as a catalyst for economic growth.

In light of the entrepreneurial drought in NE Ohio, it is in our best interest to help develop a sector of minority enterprise that has been ignored: immigrant-owned business, both high tech entities started by highly skilled immigrants, as well as non-tech micro enterprise started by low-income immigrants.
During the 1990s, Asian-owned businesses improved revenues by more than 463 percent, while Hispanic businesses grew by 417 percent.
Recent studies show that immigrants to the U.S. are much more likely to be entrepreneurs than native-born Americans. For some immigrant groups, the entrepreneurship rate is 2 to 3 times greater than the American-born population. See research “Immigration Entrepreneurship in the United States: Trends, Research and Theory,” by Pyong Gap Min and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, presented at the 2002 Annual Conference of Entrepreneurial Finance. Also see: Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Venturing Abroad in an Age of Globalization, Edited by Robert Kloosterman & Jan Roth, Berg Publishers and New York University Press, August, 2003.
Inc. Magazine reported in 1995 that 12 percent of the Inc. 500 -- fastest growing corporations in America – were started by immigrants.

A 1997 study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace found the following:

  • Immigrants often have personal characteristics similar to those of entrepreneurs

  • In every decennial census from 1880 to 1990, immigrants are more likely to be self-employed than natives

  • Data are sorely lacking on the number of jobs and the amount of wealth that immigrant entrepreneurs create, on the forward and backward economic linkages they foster within the nation’s economy, and on the export/import trade they develop with their home countries

  • Impressionistic data indicate that immigrant firms are usually quite small and tend to employ co-ethnics and family. Nevertheless, they are sufficiently powerful in the aggregate to have revitalized many neighborhoods, particularly in hard-hit urban areas.

  • Evidence suggests that over the last three decades, immigrants have played a significant role in reversing the nationwide decline in the rate of non-farm self-employment

A recent article in Fortune Small Business, entitled “The Color of Money,” highlighted a wide range of minority-businesses-sectors in the U.S. (African American, Pacific Asian, Hispanic, Asian-Indian, etc.), and found that minority business has grown in the U.S. at a rate of 17% per annum.

Researchers have found that many immigrants in Silicon Valley acted as entrepreneurs and as middlemen who facilitate trade and investment links with their countries of origin. In 2000, Indian and Chinese entrepreneurs alone headed 29% of Silicon Valley’s technology businesses. Collectively, these companies accounted for $19.5 billion in sales and over 77,000 jobs in Silicon Valley.

Cities that have similar socio demographic profiles as Cleveland, such as Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Minneapolis, Schenectady, and Louisville have developed and implemented policies to attract immigrant residents and business owners as part of their regional growth strategy and economic development model. These cities, along with the state of Iowa, have employed ways to partner with their existing immigrant communities in order to pro-actively attract more internationals, whether residing in or outside the U.S., to relocate to an immigrant-friendly destination for starting or expanding business operations, attending college, raising a family, etc.

Research conducted by Rose A. Zitiello and Richard T. Herman on those policies and comparisons to Cleveland were published in 2003 entitled, “In the new global & multicultural marketplace, immigrants hold key to revitalizing NE Ohio”. To download a copy of this research, go to www.goglobaltrain.com
This research has been published in Immigration Daily, The Plain Dealer, Inside Business, and newspapers and urban development publications around the country. Noted urban development expert and Washington Post Columnist, Neil Peirce, highlighted this research in his nationally syndicated article, “Cities Scramble for Immigrants,” May 17, 2004, which is attached hereon.

This year the Civic Task Force on International Cleveland3 (now known as the Cleveland International Coalition) adopted the recommendations of Zitiello & Herman and published their report entitled, Recommendations to the City of Cleveland. The recommendations are available on the City of Cleveland Website.

Because Cleveland like many of these urban municipalities are cash strapped, greater awareness of international issues occur via a network of community “grapevines,” a series of “micro-events” or initiatives that will serve to spark a growing discussion about Cleveland’s perception and desirability in the international community. In following years, as the local economy improves, we propose that these “soft” initiatives be reinforced with significant funding toward projects that will elevate Cleveland’s profile in the international community, in effect creating a “conversation” between our ethnic neighborhoods and the rest of the world. If successfully managed, this economic development strategy will lead to population increases and greater regional wealth.

Strengthen Communications and Relationships Between Technical Assistance Organizations and the Immigrant Communities to Encourage Economic Development Business Start Ups and or Expansion

The biggest problems facing immigrant business owners: financing, no small business loans, govt. tax credits. SBA has made some inroads into ethnic communities, but still relies on commercial banks to grant the loans. Too many lenders overlook the unique asset that immigrants may possess. The National Association for Enterprise Opportunity said that micro business training is vital to filling gaps larger institutions have left in serving minorities and immigrants.
They are the ones who don’t have traditional access to loans. Barriers to full development of immigrant owned enterprise, include language, social, political and legal obstacles. The focus would be on helping NE Ohio immigrants gain access to the mainstream business resources, and helping NE Ohio understand the importance of immigrant enterprise to our region.
Organizations such as the Small Business Administration—Cleveland COSE-Minority Business Council, SCORE, Department of Commerce—Cleveland, Ohio Department of Development, JumpStart, NeoEntrepreneur,, BioEnterprise Camp Glide EDI NEOSA already exist to conduct business development in our region, and can provide free in service educational seminars and workshops to potential business owners, CDC’s and other technical assistance organizations for business start up;educational opportunities to learn of latest business techniques and practices.
• Expand www.discoverlorainave.com website to include updated real-estate

opportunities on Lorain Avenue, with links to bilingual community newspapers on the Westside, “commodify” ethnic and immigrant products and services for local mainstream and tourist consumption, and to highlight local immigrant entrepreneur success stories

  • Expand website’s “real estate opportunities” category for lease or for sale along Lorain Avenue should be updated and maintained monthly; Placement ads on Cleveland.com as well as in the various ethnic and bilingual community newspapers to drive prospective new business owners to the website

  • Coordinate quarterly meetings between CDC’s & organizations such as Hispanic Business Association, (HBA) The Arab American (AACCESS- OHIO) The Albanian American Association, the On Leong Chinese Merchants Association, the Chinese Restaurant Owners Association, the Somali Diaspora Association, the Vietnamese Association of Greater Cleveland, etc. to develop business leads for potential start ups and or expansion of existing businesses. to provide appropriate bi-lingual translation of materials and information;

  • Business Administration and COSE to support the initiative and Include other west side business assistance and employment partners such as Western Elmwood Berea Corporation (WEBCO) and West Side Industrial Retention Net work (WIRENET) to encourage local business community to source from local immigrant entrepreneurs;

  • Identify social service providers such as Catholic Charities, West Side Ecumenical Ministry and Commission For Catholic Community Action, Jewish Family Services Refugee Resettlement Office, International Service Center, etc., that are providing out reach and settlement services to immigrant communities for communication and support;

  • Identify banks and other institutions from the region to support the initiative.

Encourage banking and finance community to fund immigrant-owned


  • Link of Student Interns;

  • Help immigrant-businesses buy in bulk and get discounts;

  • Create better understanding between resident and immigrant business, balance of trade.

  • Facilitate civic and community leadership within the immigrant business community

  • Develop strategies to attract larger-scale foreign investment for West Side neighborhood business development

1 Studies have shown that small business, and not large corporations, drives the U.S. economy. Almost 50% of all new job creation from 1990 to 1995 came from small employers with 1 to 19 employees; 77% of all new job creation came from employers with under 500 employees. The importance of small business is even more true in NE Ohio, where many large corporations have left the region, e.g., BP, TRW, etc.

2According to a report by NorTech’s Entrepreneurship Task Force entitled “Fostering and Nurturing Entrepreneurship in Northeast Ohio (March, 03), Northeast Ohio lags entrepreneurial cities, peer cities, and the nation in entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur Magazine’s 2002 survey of entrepreneurial regions ranks NEO 61st out of 61 major metropolitan areas. Inc. Magazine’s 2000 survey found Northeast Ohio ranked 40th, out of top 50 largest metropolitan areas.

3 The CIC task force includes: Harvey Freiman, Jewish Community Federation ,Howard Gudell, Ohio-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Richard Herman, Richard Herman Associates, Esq., Abigail Horn, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, CSU George Koussa, Koussa Consulting, Kathy Lenarcic, World Trade Center Cleveland, Cheryl Lewis, Jewish Family Services, Jennifer McGill-Rupp, Council of International Programs-USA, Caroline Pegelow, Case Western Reserve University,Leon Polott, BioEnterprise,Lisa Purdy, Council of International Programs-USA, Ellen Roberts, World Trade Center Cleveland,

Mark Rosentraub, Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs, CSU, Algis Ruksenas, International Services Center, Sam Thomas, Weatherhead School of Management, CWRU, Luis Vazquez, Cuyahoga County Employment and Family Services. Brad Whitehead, Cleveland Foundation, David Yen, World Trade Center Cleveland, David Silk, British American Chamber of Commerce.

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