The gathered regional leaders, munching on lunch in the Cleveland Convention Center's grand ballroom, were by and large delighted by the format (save for City Club CEO Dan Moulthop, perhaps, who can't have been pleased that Budish's lengthy remarks left little time for the Traditional City Club Q&A, a city institution in its own right).
The first, and most enjoyable, video was a "man on the street," Jimmy-Kimmel-esque exercise which asked people in downtown Cleveland what they thought the County Executive did. No one had a clue.
"Stuff with land permits?" One man hypothesized.
Even Frank Jackson was stumped: "That's a good question," he said.
And that was Budish's point. He kicked off his speech with the idea that though no one knows what the county does, it still has a tremendous impact. He crystallized its role in one word: "Prosperity."
"The county charter makes it clear that this new county government must promote economic well-being and prosperity throughout the county," Budish said.
Though the Kimmel-style video isn't included on the Cuyahoga County YouTube playlist, which the crackerjack AV team has assembled here, the other seven are. We've included them here to give you a feel for Budish's speech.
LIBRARY INNOVATION CENTERS: We touched on this in our cover story, too. Opening innovation centers was one of six initiatives that Budish announced at last year's SOTC. One of the three proposed centers opened in February at the Garfield Heights branch of the Cuyahoga County public library.
Budish has called the centers the "first step on a continuum for an innovation culture." It's a place with "huge, wonderful, amazing machines" where people can get their business ideas off the ground for free, he said. (Discerning viewers will also note the elephants in the video, one of which figures prominently, as a narrative device, in our feature story.)
ENTREPRENEURSHIP. Entrepreneurship is still so hot right now. Budish mentioned the $4.5 million the County has loaned to JumpStart in support of three venture capital funds. The video shows one example of what early stage investments can accomplish locally.
(The most unique and exciting of the funds, though, might be the Focus Fund, which specifically seeks to invest in start-ups run by women and minorities. Those awarded funding have to relocate to Ohio).
SMALL BUSINESS FUNDING: Budish announced that the County has invested in ECDI, a Columbus-based micro-lending agency with a Cleveland office. Budish said the loan has helped 56 companies and helped create 128 jobs.
THE CONNECTATHON: This was during the portion of Budish's speech devoted to the Global Center for Health Innovation. Budish cited the Connectathon as an example of the Global Center's capacity to bring top-notch programming, not just companies, to Cleveland.
In one of the speech's major announcements, Budish said the Global Center would also be partnering with the Mt. Sinai Foundation to sponsor the Rising Star Awards, a "new business plan" competition that will net the winner a cash prize, space at the Global Center, and mentoring from current Global Center tenants and partners.
UNIVERSAL PRE-K: In what was surely the biggest announcement of the afternoon, Budish said that he and county council had managed to lock down an additional $10 million in the most recent budget for high quality pre-kindergarten education (over and above the $9 million already budgeted). And beyond, that, thanks to the philanthropic moving and shaking of PNC's Regional Director Paul Clark, private parties chipped in an additional $12 million. This extra funding will allow the county to more than double the number of children served by pre-K, from 2,000 to more than 4,000.
RE-ENTRY SERVICES: Budish announced that that county had established a comprehensive re-entry program at the Euclid Jail (which the county runs) in collaboration with Brandon Chrostowski and the EDWINS leadership institute. Budish said that he wants prisoners to have the tools and resources to get not only a first job, but a second and a third.
"I should amend my priorities from jobs jobs jobs to careers careers careers," he said.
FAMILY REUNIONS: Budish touted the compassion and successful work of the Health and Human Services department. In 2015, the county reunited 425 children with their parents, Budish said, the most in recent years.
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