What's your "read" on local news? Would you welcome a disruption to your understanding of the community in order to deepen your insight into how decisions have been and are being made in our region? The Civic Leadership Institute, a program of Cleveland Leadership Center, promises that after attending 6 sessions I'll "read the paper with a new perspective" and have a deeper understanding of the economic, social, business and political issues shaping our region. As a a key member of the team at the Foundation Center, I welcome the opportunity to increase my leadership skills and to contextualize the programmatic solutions we routinely create for the social sector. I attended the first Institute session on Tuesday, June 15, 2011 and plan to publish a post after each. I hope you enjoy this first post as much as I enjoyed the first session!
Attendees represent all sectors of business, nonprofit, and education, and speakers for the first session, entitled "The Evolution of Our Economy," delivered presentations with adroitness, wit, and that special brand of enthusiasm for Cleveland that only those who live or have lived here truly understand. First up was John Grabowski, professor at Case Western Reserve University and Director of Research at the Western Reserve Historical Society, who explained how migration patterns have shaped our city and created the urban villages and unique ethnic mix that we all recognize as Cleveland today. Migration patterns also speak to the current state of the economy and where it might be headed. An emerging pattern within the new economy is becoming apparent with healthcare, education, and technology demanding a highly-skilled workforce in our region, talent we may need to import, in part.
So, if talent is the new oil, as second presenter Richard Herman suggests, we need to understand in fine detail just how deep our talent pool is. Herman, co-author of Immigrant, Inc., spoke animatedly about Cleveland's need for immigrants, a group that traditionally fuels innovation and spurs economic development by starting up new enterprises. With the percentage of foreign-born citizens decreasing dramatically (the current figure is 5%, which is much, much lower than previous decades), Cleveland and the nation must recognize the risks of losing highly talented individuals to other regions and countries. For example, although thousands of international students enroll at our regional universities, we don't do enough to keep them here after graduation. As a result, Herman argued, our region runs the risk of hemorraging more jobs and people. One antidote to this is Global Cleveland, an initiative designed to remedy the low rate of migration by attracting 100,000 people to Cleveland by 2020.
I found the first session of the Civic Leadership Institute to be thought-provoking and enlightening. The presentations complemented one another nicely and the historical context will help me to understand the challenges facing my organization and the nonprofits we serve. So, will I read "the paper" a new way? I think so.
As a side note, it was with a degree of astonishment and glee that I learned that Cleveland once had a "Big Italy," located near where Progressive Field now stands. For a time, an enterprising Italian chef named Ettore Boiardi made his home there and, in the 1920s, opened up a restaurant on E. 9th and Woodland. Who knew? Beefaroni anyone?
--Katie Artzner, Online Librarian, The Foundation Center