Inclusion & Economic Prosperity in Greater Cleveland


By Emily Haile

Avon, Ohio, resident Al “Bubba” Baker was able to expand his barbecue business last year thanks to a new investment program designed to grow business in Northeast Ohio. A $50,000 microloan from the Economic and Community Development Institutea partner of the Greater Cleveland Partnershipenabled the entrepreneur to patent his Bubba’s-Q baby-back ribs and get them onto the shelves at fine food stores. “We had a great idea but we needed startup money,” Baker told The Plain Dealer. “We could not have done this otherwise.”

Baker’s story illustrates one way the Greater Cleveland Partnership is helping minority-owned business enterprises (MBEs) and women-owned business enterprises (WBEs) take advantage of the region’s economic growth. Strategic investments and a booming manufacturing industry have combined to help Northeastern Ohio become one of the top six industrial markets in North America. In 2012, the region saw the creation of 36,383 jobs, $1.7 billion in payroll and $1.8 billion in capital investment, according to a report by local economic development organization Cleveland Plus.

But in many ways, the investment boom is an unfinished story. Who ultimately benefits from this growth is yet to be determined. “Cleveland still needs to harness its most powerful engines of growth to its most disadvantaged neighborhoods,” wrote The Plain Dealer. The Greater Cleveland Partnership (GCP)along with 100 corporate members including Eaton, KeyCorp, Cuyahoga Community College, Kent State University, University Hospitals, Lifebanc, Case Western Reserve University, U.S. Bank, YMCA of Greater Cleveland, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District, Cleveland State University, Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority, Cleveland Clinic, The MetroHealth System, Forest City Enterprises and the Federal Reserve Bank of Clevelandis working to ensure that this economic prosperity is shared by all demographic groups in this increasingly diverse region.

Community Investment

Financial investment is key to growing small businesses like Bubba’s-Q restaurant. Area companies are taking strides to make business ownership a reality for people from traditionally underrepresented groups. Established in 2012 with the help of the GCP, the Cleveland branch of the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) made more than $1 million in loans in its first year, all to clients who were turned down by traditional banks. Nearly 50 percent of the loans went to MBEs and 65 percent to WBEs. The institute’s programs include a six-week training course for aspiring entrepreneurs.

The GCP was also instrumental in bringing a Minority Business Development Agency Business Centerone of about 30 nationwideto Cleveland in 2011. In its first two years of operation, the MBDA has helped local MBEs and WBEs create 220 new jobs, obtain $39 million in contracts and $8 million in capital. It also received a commendable rating from the U.S. Department of Commerce. DiversityInc CEO Luke Visconti spoke at the center’s 2013 conference, which was attended by 90 entrepreneurs and 72 corporate procurement specialists from companies including University Hospitals (University Hospitals was No. 1 on DiversityInc’s Top 10 Hospitals), Kent State University and the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. Visconti said that when corporations contract with small businesses, it encourages economic growth. “It’s good for the community,” he said, “because people move to places where they see opportunities.”

Community leader KeyBank hopes to increase local opportunities by investing more than $2.9 billion in debt and equity in underserved communities. In 2012, the bank originated more than $900 million in loans and investments for nearly 150 projects that supported housing for the homeless and citizens with special needs. “Our mission and strategy align well with the GCP. We’re committed to projects that develop housing, jobs and community assets in downtown Cleveland and surrounding neighborhoods,” says Jim Poznik, Senior Vice President of Community Development Lending at KeyBank. “As a long-time investor in the organization and a financing partner with the GCP on many initiatives, we appreciate the incredible value they bring to the development of Greater Cleveland.”

Margot James Copeland, KeyBank Foundation

KeyBank, a division of KeyCorp (one of DiversityInc’s 25 Noteworthy Companies and Top 10 Regional Companies), earned an “outstanding” rating from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency for exceeding the terms of the Community Reinvestment Act. It is the only top 25 U.S. bank to receive this rating for eight years consecutively. The bank also invested in Southern Ohio’s Accessibility Rehabilitation Program, which provides up to $7,500 toward home repairs or modifications for homeowners who are elderly or who have disabilities. “Our objective is to improve the quality of life and economic vibrancy of the placeswhere our customers, employees and shareholders live and work,” says Margot James Copeland, chair of the KeyBank Foundation.”Inclusion is a critical aspect of that quality of life.”

Cleveland real-estate company Forest City Enterprises also emphasizes inclusion in its charitable giving. Charmaine Brown, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, says more than 20 percent of the donations given to the United Way are directed toward traditionally underrepresented groups including LGBT people and individuals with disabilities, she adds. “Forest City’s commitment to investing in our communities is reflected both by our volunteerism and by our philanthropic contributions,” says Brown. “This demonstrates to our communities that we know we are linked together in a shared future.” Last year, more than 1,200 Forest City employeesnearly half of all associates nationwideparticipated in the ninth annual Community Day, volunteering with charitable organizations to provide critically needed services.

University Hospitals serves as a community anchor in Cleveland. The hospital partners with the Evergreen Cooperatives, which works to create living-wage jobs in six low-income neighborhoods. It also sponsors Greater Circle Living, a program that encourages home buying in the Greater University Circle area where UH’s Case Medical Center is located. All of the hospital’s full-time employees are eligible for a forgivable loan toward the purchase of a home in the University Circle area.

The MetroHealth System has 17 community health centers throughout the county, including the 57,000-square-foot Middleburg Heights November Family Health Center, which opened in July 2013. “As the 14th largest employer in Northeast Ohio, we have an indelible economic and societal footprint here in Cleveland and we strive to be a major stakeholder in the economic renaissance of the region,” says Winnell Mason, MetroHealth’s Director of Diversity.

Cuyahoga Community College supports the Northeast Ohio economy by generating $700 million in spending annually and sustaining more than 25,000 jobs. More than 85 percent of Tri-C’s graduates continue to live and work in the region. “We support the growth of the Greater Cleveland area,” says Judi McMullen, Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer at Tri-C. “We don’t want people to leave Cleveland to go find a job. We want them to work here. That’s part of the excitement that’s going on with the growth and development of downtown.”

Sandra Pinialto, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland

For more than 10 years, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland has held an annualPolicy Summit on Housing, Human Capital and Inequality. The summit focuses on issues like affordable housing, small-business access to credit, financial literacy and more. “The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland is uniquely positioned to bring together people with a diverse range of experiences, vantage points and opinions about these problems and how to respond to them,” President and CEO Sandra Pianalto said at the 2012 summit. “Our Policy Summit has evolved in a way that we hope will continue to provide value [in] strengthening our communities.”

Le Joyce Naylor, Cleveland Clinic

With more than 41,000 employees, Cleveland Clinic is the largest employer in Northeast Ohio. A 2010 study found that the clinic has a $10.5 billion impact on the Ohio and regional economies, up from $8.9 billion in 2006. “All of the dimensions of diversity are reflected in our caregivers, patients and in the communities we serve,” says Le Joyce Naylor, Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion at Cleveland Clinic. “As the largest employer of the region we have an enduring commitment to strong relationships and our substantial reinvestment initiatives in underserved communities.”

Educating the Future Workforce

Educational programs and community outreach are helping to broaden awareness about traditionally underserved groups and create a culture of inclusion. Kent State University offers a number of initiatives to help Black, Latino and low-income high-school students continue their education. “This is life changing for those students because many of them are the first [in their families] going to college,” says Dr. Alfreda Brown, who was named Kent State’s first Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in 2009. “It changes their whole perspective on what could be.”

With the growing economy creating skilled jobs in technology and healthcare, Kent State is committed to helping traditionally underserved groups participate. University President Lester A. Lefton formed a task force on broadening the participation of womento include a special focus on Black, Latina and Native American womenin the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Comprised of 40 faculty and staff members, the task force’s recommendations are to increase the recruitment, retention and advancement of women to full professor, including mentorship programs for female faculty; a review of the university’s family-friendly policies; and the addition of industry networking groups specifically for female students in STEM. The school hopes to begin implementing the recommendations starting this fall.

University Hospitals is contributing to the educational effort by funding the Kent State Kick Start College Partnership Program. Fifteen rising juniors from Cleveland Central Catholic High School participated in a week-long summer residency to inspire urban youth to pursue STEM careers. UH is also a partner with the NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts & Technology, which provides career training for unemployed and underemployed adults, as well as after-school, arts-based programs for urban high-school students. With an eye toward training for meaningful jobs, UH identified healthcare careers that were in demand, including phlebotomy and pharmacy, and supported NewBridge with funding for training programs in these fields.

Cleveland Clinic offers an impressive array of pipeline programs to attract students from traditionally underserved groups to careers in medicine. The Aspiring Physicians & Research Scientists Conference gives Black, Latino, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander and Native American students in the fields of science and medicine the opportunity to interface with the clinic’s world-renowned staff. The clinic has also partnered with Health Legacy of Cleveland, Inc. to offer the Saturday Academy, designed to increase the representation of Black, Latino and Native American high-school students in medical fields. The intensive 12-week program provides hands-on activities, talks, tours, mentoring sessions and the implementation of a public-health project.

Academy participant Briana Walker went on to graduate magna cum laude from Hampton University on a full scholarship. The biology major says the program gave her goals to reach for and the confidence to pursue them. “I willingly embrace challenges both scholastically and otherwise thanks to the realistic motivation provided by my mentors,” says Walker. “I will never forget the compassion and genuine interest that the staff showed to our entire class and in our success. They showed us that although statistically we may be minorities in our desired field, this has nothing to do with an inability to succeed and break the glass ceiling.” So far, more than $120,000 in scholarships have been distributed to 165 program participants.

In an effort to steer Greater Cleveland’s Black, Latino, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Island and Native American high-school students into management careers, Cleveland Clinic also sponsors an eight-week, paid Young Business Leaders Summer Internship Program. Cleveland Clinic also sponsors a Clinic Solutions Mini Case Competition, a one-and-a-half-day think-tank session that allows students to brainstorm on challenges and opportunities in healthcare that impact Cleveland Clinic’s patient base. As a result of the case competition, 123 students have been awarded more than $29,000 in scholarship dollars. “The mission of our diversity-pipeline programs is to address the increasing shortage of physicians and other key healthcare professionals by connecting talented individuals to experiential, project-based learning, scientific research, and mentoring/exposure opportunities,” says Angie Eichelberger, Program Manager in the clinic’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “Our efforts are intended to attract and retain participants to remain in and/or return to the Greater Cleveland area postgraduation, and ultimately to practice at Cleveland Clinic.

Tri-C is also shifting its focus to prepare students for the high-tech job market. The college recently restructured its core curriculum and drafted a strategic plan through 2016 aimed at student engagement, innovation and completion. “Ohio’s ability to compete and prosper in a global knowledge economy hinges on its citizens ability to succeed in jobs that require increasingly higher levels of knowledge and skills,” states the strategic plan. McMullen says the college has been extensively evaluating its course offerings. She points to the college’s satellite programs, includingclasses offered at the VA Medical Center, a campus truck-driving school and a program for women in transition. “We are trying to get out and meet people where they are,” she says. “I think that’s part of being inclusive, to know what populations we could be tapping into and helping.”

In addition to reaching a broad range of student populations, Tri-C is striving to prepare them for success in today’s job market. The college also offers a number of programs aimed at boosting the academic achievement of traditionally underserved students, including mentoring programs offered by the Black Caucus and the Minority Male Initiative. The Tri-C Hispanic Council has a strong relationship with Esperanza, a Cleveland nonprofit that offers scholarships, conferences and educational support to Hispanic youth.

Forest City also recognizes the importance of education and has a history of advocating on behalf of local schools. Last year, the company publicly supported Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson’s effort to increase taxes in order to revitalize the Cleveland Metropolitan School District.Forest City formed a committee of 10 associates who assisted in voter registration and public outreach to help the measurewhich is expected to generate $65 million per yearpass in late 2012.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland offers a Learning Center and Money Museum and partners with local nonprofit Youth Opportunities Unlimited to offer a two-day Employability Skills Boot Camp for more than 130 high-school students from traditionally underrepresented groups. Workshops focus on improving critical-thinking skills, rsum writing and financial literacy. “Through our outreach efforts and community involvement, the bank not only speaks with diverse audiences, it is engaged with community organizations that have a focus on diversity and inclusion,” says Diana Starks, Assistant Vice President and Diversity Officer in the bank’s Office of Minority and Women Inclusion. “We took steps to actively engage with several community organizations whose primary focus includes talent acquisition or supplier diversity.”

Recently, the Cleveland Fed has made efforts to reach out to the region’s growing Latino community. Pianalto was the keynote speaker at the 2012 Esperanza Fiesta of Hope Scholarship luncheon and recent bank initiatives include a financial-literacy program for Latino high-school youth and a program that enabled employees to share information about Latino culture. The bank also sponsored 15,000 inserts of its financial literacy workbook in La Prensa, a Latino newspaper.

Many of KeyBank’s community-outreach efforts center around financial literacy. The bank has partnered with local nonprofit Neighborhood Progress to offer a Financial Education Center in Cleveland’s Buckeye neighborhood. Since 2004, the center has served more than 16,000 people with free financial classes and one-on-one coaching. Key also offers a website called Money Made Easy that helps explain the basics of money management in both English and Spanish. “Building financial capability through education is critical to achieving success,” says Bruce Murphy, President of Key’s Community Development Banking.

Key and Neighborhood Progress also have a program to increase the financial security of low-income familiesprimarily female single parents, residing in affordable housing developmentsin Cleveland’s Glenville neighborhood.

Community-Focused Healthcare

The biomedical and healthcare industries are a driving force in Cleveland’s economy. Northeast Ohio is home to more than 600 biomedical businesses and nearly a quarter million healthcare and bioscience workers. Area hospitals are doing their part to offer culturally competent care to traditionally underserved groups.

Evidence shows that patients from traditionally underserved groups are less likely to receive a kidney transplant, and MetroHealth’s Center for Reducing Health Disparities is looking to change that. The center launched a programOffering Patients Transplant Information and Outreach Through Navigators, or OPTIONto help dialysis patients navigate the process of getting onto a transplant waiting list.

Winnell Mason, The MetroHealth System

Other programs include cultural-competence training for 129 researchers from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and a community book discussion about multicultural healthcare. The Center for Reducing Health Disparities is also working to develop a toolkit to assist researchers in the process of integrating cultural considerations into research questions, study design, data collection, analysis and the dissemination of findings. “Our partnership with the Center for Reducing Health Disparities plays a crucial role in our enhancement of the patient-provider relationship to ensure that we are eliminating disparities and increasing the access, health status and health literacy of the communities we serve,” says Mason.

MetroHealth also launched an initiative to increase the research capacity of health-and-human-service nonprofits in Cleveland. Participating organizations include Mental Health Services for Homeless Persons and Beech Brook, a behavioral-health agency for local children. The MetroHealth Closing the Gap initiative, funded by the St. Luke’s Foundation, was created to reduce healthcare disparities in Cleveland’s predominantly black Buckeye neighborhood. The program focuses on the social determinants that affect the health and wellbeing of residents. A program called Healthy Eating & Active Living (HEAL) promotes nutrition and fitness through free exercise classes and a drive to plant community vegetable gardens. “The initiatives are steadily reducing health disparities and increasing the healthcare literacy of that community,” says Mason. “Through education, case management and classes, patients are more empowered to better monitor their health.”

Last year, Cleveland Clinic launched a program called the Hero Experience which has enabled the hospital system to hire nearly 400 veterans. The clinic also provides outreach to the local Latino community with Tu Familia, Su Salud, an annual event at Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital. The free event offers bilingual health-education materials, interpreter services, family activities and vital healthcare such as blood-pressure and cholesterol screenings.

Bringing Global Diversity Home

Dr. Alfreda Brown, Kent State University

Other area businesses are doing their part to foster an inclusive environment by celebrating different viewpoints, cultivating a global outlook and promoting cultural literacy. Kent State recently implemented an experiential-learning requirement for all students that focuses on civic engagement. Students volunteer at local community organizations, particularly in Cleveland. “It teaches them philanthropic ideas,” says Alfreda Brown. “It puts something inside of them that says we need to give back, especially to areas that are in need.”

Brown also hopes to launch a global leadership certificate program similar to one she helped administer at Rochester Institute of Technology. It pairs students from other countries with American students, to learn important leadership skills, enhance cultural competencies, understand the aspects of globalization and gain experiential education to apply skills. “I think it’s really important that students understand the concept of living in a global society,” says Brown. “Cleveland is a picture of this global society. As students graduate they need to understand that the world is a lot bigger. How do you learn to work across difference How do you learn to be a global citizen”

Cuyahoga Community College is hoping to institute a similar initiative called the Cultural Passport Program that focuses on increasing the cultural competence of the student body through community volunteering, cultural events, lectures, conferences and more. “We’re moving beyond the black-and-white aspects of diversity to examine things like poverty, sexual orientation, differences in religion,” says Tri-C’s new Director of Diversity & Inclusion, Dr. Deborale Richardson-Bouie. “We’re really looking to broaden so that our students are able to market themselves in this global economy.”

Dr. Deborale Richardson-Bouie, Cuyahoga Community College

This year, Cuyahoga Community College welcomed Richardson-Bouie as well as a new President, Dr. Alex Johnson. Johnson sits on the board of the American Association of Community Colleges and has chaired the association’s Commission on Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. Two years ago, the college established an Inclusivity Advisory Committee to assess the university’s diversity efforts. The committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students from all four campuses, came up with recommendations surrounding recruitment and retention, mentoring, professional development, benchmarking tools, recognition and celebration. Richardson-Bouie is tasked with implementing these recommendations with the help of committee members.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership and its partners also support a number of programs that focus on enhancing the visibility of traditionally underrepresented groups. Last year, the GCP worked with Engage! Cleveland, an organization dedicated to attracting young professionals to the region. Tapping into a network of more than 80 professional groups, Engage! Cleveland launched programs and conferences to tackle issues such as in-community engagement, diversity management and recruitment.

Forest City continues to co-sponsor a series of Senior Executive Forums on diversity. Most recently, 80 senior executives participated in the second of a two-part series called “Turning Commitment to Action: How to Keep the Focus and Momentum on Diversity and Inclusion Change.” And both Forest City and University Hospitals support Plexus, Cleveland’s LGBT chamber of commerce.

University Hospitals recently launched the Women and Neonates, Diversity, Opportunities, Outreach and Research (WONDOOR) program to educate future health providers. Through global training, residents become better equipped to offer quality services to Greater Cleveland’s diverse patient base. “People assume that doctors are automatically compassionate,” says the program’s creator, Dr. Margaret D. Larkins-Pettigrew. “Many learn compassion from their experiences traveling abroad. They are then better able to serve their communities when they return home to Northeast Ohio.”

Supplier Diversity

Joe Roman, Greater Cleveland Partnership

With so much renewal and investment in Greater Cleveland, area companies are taking special care to ensure that their suppliers reflect the city’s changing demographics. This year marked the launch of a historic public-private agreementbetween the City of Cleveland, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and area businesses including University Hospitals, Northeast Ohio Regional Sewer District and Cuyahoga Community Collegeaimed at increasing supplier diversity in construction projects within the City of Cleveland through the use of community-benefits agreements. “[Agreements like this] serve as additional channels through which the private sector can become engaged to support job creation that will benefit all Greater Cleveland citizens and positively impact economic development in this community,” said Greater Cleveland Partnership President and CEO Joe Roman.

In an effort to connect MBEs with corporate buyers, the GCP’s Commission on Economic Inclusion established the Chief Procurement Officers Group in 2012. On average, 45 procurement directors and five local MBE owners attend each of the group’s quarterly meetings. This year, the group’s sessions focused on increasing spend with local minority businesses via industry clusters of commission members (healthcare, higher education, financial, corporate and government). Each cluster is setting spend goals and aggregating purchasing opportunities. The commission also invited the Northern Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council to partner with the CPO group to increase the efficiency and impact for both the corporate and minority business communities.

KeyBank is a model in its sustained commitment to equity in procurement. The bank has maintained a 15 percent spend with MWBEs for the past three yearsmore than twice the amount the average company spends with traditionally underrepresented vendors. Since 2001, Key has spent more than $1 billion with MWBEs. Last year, the company concluded a multiyear branch-revitalization project which involved a partnership with Cleveland-based, minority-owned Turner Construction. As a result, 44 percent of its branch-modernization projects were done by minority- and women-owned business enterprises.

Last year more than 17 percent of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s regional spend was with MWBEs, compared with a 10 percent average for other government agencies. The bank was also honored with a Best in Class Award for supplier diversity from the GCP. “Our commitment to inclusion doesn’t stop with receiving these awards.” says Starks. “Just as the target for a high jumper moves up, our focus for greater outcomes in diversity and inclusion is doing the same.” Last summer, the Bank hosted a successful supplier-diversity summit and the procurement department launched an online Supplier Diversity Toolkit that provides departments with information about supplier diversity.

University Hospitals is also in the midst of expanding, and as construction projects continue to grow, so does the need for representation from underserved groups. In the past year, UH enacted a new policy requiring that MWBEs be included in bids of $20,000 or more and established a subcommittee of its diversity council to specifically address supplier diversity. The hospital also encourages its vendors to make sure that 15 percent of their Tier II suppliers are MBEs, 5 percent WBEs and 20 percent local businesses. For example, there are 26 woman- and minority-owned businesses on the St. John Medical Center modernization project. The hospital is working with The Cleveland Foundation and other major health and academic institutions to use Supplier Gateway, a local repository for information on MWBEs, says Alan H. Wilde, Vice President of System Services at University Hospitals. “We will share one database and the local suppliers will go there without having to register multiple times.”

Cleveland Clinic promotes supplier diversity through a series of mentorship programs and supplier-procurement matchmaking events. In 2012, more than a quarter of Cleveland Clinic’s supply spend went to MWBEs and 22 percent of building and properties spend was with MWBEs. The clinic plans to increase those percentages to 28 and 24, respectively, in 2013. “Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to our community goes beyond providing world-class healthcare,” says Andrea Kanter Jacobs, Executive Director of Operations. “It also extends to helping drive economic empowerment in our communities by attracting, supporting and partnering with diverse business enterprises.”

Kent State University’s spend with MBEs has increased nearly four times from 2.67 percent in 2011 to 10.39 percent in 2013, thanks to a concerted effort. Veronica Cook-Euell started in 2011 in the newly created position of Supplier Diversity Program Manager in the university’s Business and Finance Department. She helped Kent State design a supplier database to help its departments identify certified MWBE businesses. The database allows every buyer on Kent State’s eight campuses to access MWBE data using advanced search options, including certifications and a list of key clients served.

This year, Kent State’s Office of the University Architect partnered with the supplier-diversity department to create a Second- and Third-Tier Matchmaking Conference. This matched hundreds of local MWBEs with existing construction contracts worth more than $170 million. “Before, we were not getting small, minority- and women-owned companies bidding,” says Cook-Euell, citing lack of experience or limited knowledge of the bidding process. “This was an effort to get them to come to the table.”

Charmaine Brown, Forest City

Forest City is in the beginning stages of planning a company-wide supplier-diversity program that, in addition to increasing spend with MWBEs, includes tracking, mentorship, the establishment of a diversity council and support from national supplier-diversity programs. The company already has a number of successful supplier-diversity initiatives in Washington, D.C., Baltimore and Brooklyn, N.Y., which require that construction contracts and workforce include 25 percent MBEs and 10 percent WBEs. It is in the process of planning a similar program in Northeast Ohio, says Charmaine Brown, who serves on the board of the Northern Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council.

MetroHealth is also committed to increasing its spend with minority-owned business enterprises and recently created a managerial position in diversity responsible for growing and tracking such revenue. “Strengthening our relationships with local MBEs and forming new partnerships is one way we will continue to contribute to economic development of the region and our residents,” says Mason.

Recruitment & Retention

Championing diversity means cultivating an inclusive workforce. Area companies are showing a commitment to recruiting and retaining Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, veterans, women, LGBT people and people with disabilities, from entry-level posts up to the C-suite. More than 40 percent of KeyCorp’s board members are women or Blacks, Latinos, Asians or Native Americans, and 25 percent of Chairman and CEO Beth Mooney’s direct reports are women or members of traditionally underrepresented groups. Key received a 2012 Best in Class award for senior-management diversity from the GCP’s Commission on Economic Inclusion.

Regionally, 15 percent of Forest City’s workforce comes from traditionally underrepresented groups. More than 30 percent of University Hospitals employees are Black, Asian, Native American, Latino, LGBT, veterans or people with disabilities. At MetroHealth, 20 percent of employees are Black, 5 percent are Latino, 6 percent are Asian and 0.2 percent are Native American. Of Tri-C’s student body, 32 percent are Black, 4 percent Latino, 3 percent Asian and 1 percent Native American. Twenty-five percent of the college’s employees are Black. Roughly 20 percent of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s employees are Black, Latino, Asian or Native American, and in 2012, 28 percent of the bank’s new hires were from traditionally underrepresented groups. At Cleveland Clinic, 8.4 percent of employees are Black, Latino or Asian.

These numbers are the result of a concerted effort by companies to expand their employee base. KeyBank formed the Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council in 2012. Chaired by Mooney and comprised of top leadership, the council focuses on workforce diversity. “At Key, diversity and inclusion are critical to our business strategy,” says Mooney. “Harnessing strength from a variety of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives allows Key’s professionals to bring a richer and deeper perspective to business decisions and customer service, as well as support a culture where every person feels included, valued and empowered.”

Forest City helped to bring a national training program for underrepresented groups to the region. The Real Estate Associate Program (REAP) had its first Cleveland graduation of 32 students in 2012. Program graduates have already been hired by local real-estate firms, and Forest City executives continue to mentor alumni. The company will sponsor another 13-week session this fall. “Forest City is very proud to once again support this program aimed at developing a pipeline of minority professionals to gain entry into commercial-real-estate opportunities,” says Brown. “We have a significant number of minority professionals who, given the right opportunity and the right connections, can really create some significant value in Northeast Ohio.”

Hilton O. Smith, University Hospitals board

UH increased its board diversity to 24 percent and received a 2012 Best in Class award for board diversity from the Commission on Economic Inclusion. “The board members vividly understand that an inclusive environment is a priority for University Hospitals,” says Hilton O. Smith, chair of the Cultural Diversity Committee of the board of University Hospitals. “Today’s environment calls for inclusion and a clear understanding of a diverse patient base.” Smith is also Senior Vice President of Corporate and National Community Affairs at local MBE Turner Construction and president of the Cleveland NAACP.

UH also introduced a faculty fellowship program sponsored by the KeyBank Foundation to increase the number of faculty physicians and leaders from traditionally underrepresented groups. The hospital’s Leadership Academy has tapped a diverse group of 24 high-potential physicians and administrators to complete a leadership program at Case Western Reserve University’s Weatherhead School of Management. And thanks to the David Satcher Clerkshipa minority recruitment programUH has increased its representation of Blacks, Latinos and Asians in training programs from 3 to 10 percent.

In 2012, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s human-resources department worked with the hiring department and the Office of Minority and Women Inclusion to identify sourcing strategies to staff 27 technical positions; nearly 40 percent of the new hires were Black, Latino or Asian. Diversity and inclusion are a top priority, says Starks. “The bank is among organizations and corporations that are competing for talent. That competition is not only in the Cleveland region, but it extends nationally for some of our highly technical and professional positions.” The bank has taken steps to acknowledge diversity in its internship programs, too. Thirty percent of the bank’s 2012 interns were Black, Latino or Asian, up from 19 percent in 2011.

The Cleveland Fed has also reached out to the National Society of Hispanic MBAs and the National Black MBA Association to discuss strategies for talent acquisition and to sponsor networking events. The bank has begun recruiting on the Latino job site and increasing its presence at community events like the annual Puerto Rican Festival.

Kent State University has already reached its goal of 14 percent of incoming freshmen being Black, Latino or Native American. And multicultural programs, including a three-day orientation for incoming students, are helping to boost retention rates, says Alfreda Brown. Faculty recruitment is also a priority. Since 2010, Brown and her colleagues have attended the annual conference of the Southern Regional Education Board, Compact for Faculty Diversity, which connects Black, Latino or Native American Ph.D. candidates with universities. “It’s been very instrumental in helping us build our faculty base and build an AALANA database of Ph.D. candidates,” says Brown. “We have as many as eight new AALANA faculty coming in this fall,” a first in the university’s history, she says. In order to increase retention of Black, Latino and Native American faculty, deans and department chairs provide individualized six-year plans for success that guide newcomers from the day they start to the day they receive tenure. “It’s really paying attention to how a person is acclimated,” says Brown. “It’s on-boarding in a closer, intentional way. We don’t just want them to come, we want them to thrive.”

MBEs like Bubba’s-Q are thriving, thanks in large part to the efforts of the region’s key players. They continue to take a multi-pronged approach that includes financial investment, education, outreach and recruitment in order to distribute economic prosperity among traditionally underserved populations.

And there’s no sign of slowing down. In December 2012, the GCP’s Commission on Economic Inclusion embarked on a study to help direct its strategic planning for the next 10 years. Data was collected from individual interviews, focus groups, online surveys and national benchmarking research in an effort to continue to foster economic inclusion in the region. It’s all part of an overarching goal to create opportunities for and build the capacity of MBEs, according to the GCP’s 2012 annual report, which says that the GCP remains “committed to ensuring that diverse businesses have the opportunity to participate in, and contribute to, our region’s growing economic prosperity.”

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