Leadership and the Future Part 2: Northeast Ohio Can Become a World-Class Startup Capital

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By Lev Gonick, CEO, OneCommunity

Lev Gonick, CEO OneCommunity

Lev Gonick, CEO OneCommunity

—Back in the late 1990s, launching an Internet company cost, on average, $5 million. Not surprisingly, there were relatively few start-ups based in northeast Ohio.

Today, the average cost is about $50,000. It is still hard to build a successful company but the cost to spur innovation and create opportunities for the next generation is more attainable than ever before.

After the casinos, convention centers, airport renovation projects, professional sports stadium investments and other ‘silver bullet’ economic development investments, perhaps the time has come to challenge our counties’ and cities’ political leadership to pledge to build out a series of “North Coast Innovation Zones”.

Investing in our homegrown entrepreneurs is the best bet we can make on growing wealth and reinventing our culture in the region. This is a 20-year investment strategy that should rise above the tired and standard political reactions of “Yes, but…”.

Across the nation, companies that are less than five years old are creating 80% of the new jobs. As youth unemployment in the region approaches 15%, the time has come to stop holding our breath on the recovery of auto plants, steel mills, and manufacturing.

College graduates need to see searching for a job as only one option after marching across the stage with their first degrees. They need to be shown that creating new companies as entrepreneurs is the new leadership path of the next quarter century.

This is why we need individuals in civic leadership who will take a big bet on our entrepreneurs.

To be continued….

Read Part 1: Leadership and the Future: What Really Matters Goes Beyond Rituals, March 17, 2014

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