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VOL. 38, NO. 43

OCTOBER 23 - 29, 2017

Source Lunch

Akron New leaders take over at Great Lakes Biomimicry Page 26


Stewart Kohl, Co-CEO, The Riverside Co. Page 31


At the Table Area chefs struggle on Food Network Page 9 ANALYSIS

Silicon Valley company plugs into Cleveland Amazon bid By LYDIA COUTRÉ @LydiaCoutre

A renowned Silicon Valley innovation company is coming to Cleveland to help create an accelerator focused on biotech and digital health innovation and attract companies and startups from around the world.

Cleveland Clinic and JumpStart Inc. are teaming up with Plug and Play, the largest accelerator program in the world, in a three-year partnership that will enable the trio to work together in the hopes of attracting dozens of U.S. and international health care startups to Cleveland every year, according to a news release. The collaboration, which will benefit from the support of The Ohio Third


US Lacrosse invests in Cleveland pilot program By KEVIN KLEPS @KevinKleps

Students at Urban Community School in Ohio City now play on a turf field that was built in July and August. The field is used during recess and after-school programs, and will be a spot for lacrosse clinics and competitions. But it’s not just a cushy new surface for elementary school students. Ideally, it’s the launching pad for an extensive partnership between Urban Community School, Ohio City Inc. and US Lacrosse, the national governing body of one of the country’s fastest-growing sports. US Lacrosse, as part of a pilot program it launched in June, and its North Coast Ohio chapter have committed $300,000 over two years to Cleveland. Half of the funds went to the construction of the multipurpose field at Urban Community School, and the remainder is expected to be raised from private donations. The latter $150,000 will go toward the salary of a lacrosse manager who will be employed by Ohio City Inc., plus lacrosse programming for kids, resources to develop the sport in physical education classes and after-school programs, plus equipment, and CPR and AED training. It’s part of what Drew Roggenburk, the president of US Lacrosse’s North Coast Ohio chapter, said is the national organization’s “rock-in-the-pond” approach. SEE LACROSSE, PAGE 29

Frontier and other institutions and corporations, is set to be announced this week during Cleveland Clinic’s 2017 Medical Innovation Summit. “We think and believe that this collaboration between Plug and Play, which is considered one of the world’s most successful accelerators, and the Cleveland Clinic, which is obviously a world-renowned brand, and then JumpStart, is another ex-

ample of a super meaningful activity that will support entrepreneurs here, but also attract entrepreneurs from all over the world and solidify or continue to build on the brand of Northeast Ohio being such an incredibly meaningful startup ecosystem in addition to having this capability around biotech and digital health,” said JumpStart CEO Ray Leach. SEE INNOVATION, PAGE 6


Cleveland State lacrosse player Caleb Espinoza works with a child during a skills demonstration at Urban Community School in Ohio City in September. (Andrew Bevevino)

Entire contents © 2017 by Crain Communications Inc.

Influential Women in Finance << Profiles

of 15 women making a difference at area financial institutions

Page 12

highlights region’s disjointed approach By JAY MILLER @JayMiller

Northeast Ohio’s bid for Amazon’s second North American headquarters is in. But conversations during the weeks leading up to the announcement of a local bid on Amazon’s deadline day, last Thursday, Oct. 19, highlighted the fractured nature of the region’s business development apparatus. As the deadline approached, active and even retired economic development professionals suggested that there might have been various bids in the works in Northeast Ohio. One emailer heard that the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the chamber of commerce that draws members from the Greater Cleveland area, was leading one bid, while Team NEO, the regional economic development nonprofit that is affiliated with JobsOhio, the state economic development nonprofit created by Gov. John Kasich, was leading another. Another heard that Akron and Canton were putting together a bid. On the question of multiple bids, Rick Batyko, senior vice president, marketing, communications and development for Team NEO, issued this email response: “The public-private collaborative has been working effectively. We are delighted with the hard work, responsiveness and creativity of all working on this proposal.” Multiple bids made no sense to any of these economic development pros; a lack of community consensus would be a strike against the region when Amazon evaluated the bids. And it’s likely there may have been only one bid; they were just hearing different versions of it. But they all had seen first hand local fights for leadership on development projects, so they weren’t surprised that separate bids might have been in the works. SEE AMAZON, PAGE 30






ach week, some 3,000 customers show up to claim their weekly share of local foods at 22 different Fresh Fork Market stops throughout Northeast Ohio. Subscribers are greeted by Fresh Fork Market staff who wield handheld tablets that log in real time all aspects of the local foods exchange, from tracking inventory of nearly 1,000 food products, to accepting payments and additional food orders or alerting staff of customer allergies. Thanks to a software product developed by Solon-based Tornado Technologies, Fresh Fork Market was able to jettison some of the more cumbersome long-form ways of handling customer accounts (think adding up order totals and waiting for a subscriber to fill out a personal check) with a customized Wi-Fi-enabled app. “We have more than a dozen ways you can be a member, from vegetarian to omnivore to vegan, small shares or large shares, and upfront payments versus monthly payments,” said Catherine McAllester, marketing director of the farm-buying club. “It is crucial that we stay up to date on orders and inventory. Technology is the lifeblood of our company.” Technology dependence is a common denominator among businesses or organizations of any size and industry, and local tech industry stakeholders say it illustrates why supporting and promoting a dynamic tech region makes good business and economic sense. The delineation between non-tech and tech-focused companies is blurring. As Dean Brainard, executive director of the regional tech-focused economic development group OHTec, frequently quips, “Every company is now a tech company.” Indeed, innovative technology advances drive the growth of companies like Mayfield Village-based Progressive Corp., the nation’s fourth-largest auto insurer. Examples run the gamut, but chief among them: Progressive’s Snapshot, a user-based program that personalizes your rate depending on how you drive. That technology has yielded billions of miles of data and millions of dollars in savings to customers, according to the company. Its



latest iteration is in the form of a mobile app — released in late 2016. Meanwhile, Progressive’s HomeQuote Explorer is a new technology feature that expedites the search for homeowners’ insurance quotes. Users can get multiple quotes within 15 minutes, versus the usual one quote per hour. “We have a heavy dependency on technology. It’s at the core of our products and services and an essential part of our strategy,” said Mark Thomas, chief architect. “In the past, you’d hear companies talk about a business strategy and a technology strategy. Here, technology is part of our business strategy.” Technology utilization is a natural evolution of fulfilling the Cleveland Clinic’s mission of patient-first care, education and research, said Edward Marx, the health system’s new chief information officer. Two of the myriad of tech-enabled manifestations include the




launch of Express Care Online, which enables people to see a doctor through a mobile device or computer, and its trademark Vital Scout, a visual representation of a patient’s health. A five-year deal inked earlier this year with IBM amplifies the Cleveland Clinic’s IT capabilities, including the use of IBM’s secured cloud, social, mobile and Watson cognitive computing technologies. The partnership is part of the Cleveland Clinic’s broader mission of delivering high-quality individualized care using data and intelligence. “Prescriptive analytics leads to precision medicine,” Marx said. In a nod to the blending of tech and non-tech-focused companies and markets, Brainard said membership of non-tech organizations has been growing recently within OHTec, particularly within the manufacturing and industrial space. With the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) and devices talking to each other in plants (otherwise known as machinelearning), manufacturers and other industries are devoting more time, attention and resources into assimilating with the local tech community. “Companies, in general, realize their livelihood is based on technology and innovation,” Brainard said.

We have a heavy dependency on technology. It’s at the core of our products and services and an essential part of our strategy. — Mark Thomas, chief architect, Progressive

GETTING STARTED Startups are the pulse of a thriving economy— regardless of if they are creators or users of technology. According to the Kauffman Foundation, new and young companies are the primary source of job creation in the U.S. economy. The Northeast Ohio Entrepreneurial Signature Program Network, a group of organizations managed by JumpStart Inc. and supported by Ohio Third Frontier, has helped lead the effort locally and statewide. The program has helped more than 1,000 companies generate nearly $2 billion in revenue between 2010 and 2016. These companies have created more than 10,000 jobs, and have generated more than $4.5 billion in cumulative economic impact in Ohio during the like period, according to JumpStart Inc. “Having a strong startup ecosystem is important because startups are the primary drivers of innovation in any economy,” said Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart, a nonprofit venture development organization. “They create both jobs and wealth for our region and have been key in helping Northeast Ohio build an economy for the 21st century.” Here are just some of the startup funds that are supporting Northeast Ohio’s entrepreneurial efforts: n FlashStarts,

a Cleveland-based incubator, established the Cleveland200 Fund, a $5 million microventure fund for high-growth startups. Average investment is $50,000.

n Innovation

Fund Northeast Ohio, founded by Lorain County Community College Foundation, is dedicated to supporting the earliest stage companies through $25,000 grants or $100,000 awards — with no equity attachment. The pre-seed fund for technology startups has committed more than $12 million to 186 startups over the past decade.

n JumpStart has invested more than $40 million into nearly 100 Ohio startups. They currently operate three funds: the $10 million JumpStart Evergreen Fund, with a minimum $250,000 investment; the $10 million Focus Fund, with investments typically beginning at $250,000; and $20 million NEXT Fund, investments of which range from $500,000 to $1.5 million. n North Coast Angel Fund focuses on PHOTO PROVIDED

A locally developed customized software product enables Fresh Fork Market, a farm-buying club in Northeast Ohio, to move food between farmers and producers to customers.

early stage technology investments. The fund has invested $30 million in 40 portfolio companies that have gone on to raise $450 million in followon funding.

OCT. 25

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Female Entrepreneur Summit: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., 700 Beta Banquet & Conference Center, 700 Beta Drive, Mayfield. Whether you’re in startup or scale-up mode, this daylong summit offers women business leaders the chance to network, learn from the experts and grow their business. Info: jumpstartinc. org/events/female-entrepreneur-summit-2/

Business Growth Boot Camp | Creating a Culture of Innovation to Drive Business Growth: 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., COSE offices, 1240 Huron Road East, Cleveland. The leaders of Nottingham Spirk, a Cleveland-based product design firm, will lead a discussion on how the company continues to evolve and innovate within their own business and as an adviser to its clients. Info:

FUEL by the Bit Factory: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., 526 S. Main St., Suite 511, Akron. The Bit Factory, Akron’s startup accelerator, is calling on software developers to pitch their startup ideas in this “Shark Tank” competition for a chance to win a $10,000 investment and a spot in the accelerator. Info:



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Medicare Advantage plans gain favor as NE Ohioans age

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As more of the population ages into Medicare, some health systems in Northeast Ohio are helping design insurance plans for seniors. Cleveland Clinic recently announced two separate partnerships with Humana Inc. and with Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio, each to create Medicare Advantage plans, which are privately run versions of the federally funded health care program for seniors. University Hospitals has teamed up with SummaCare to co-brand such a plan. “The Medicare Advantage market is a relatively stable market for insurers,” said Gretchen Jacobson, associate director of the program on Medicare policy at Kaiser Family Foundation. “Payments are set and relatively steady, insurers know what to expect and enrollment in Medicare Advantage plans has been on the rise, so it’s an attractive market for many insurers.” The plans are so attractive that a total of 2,317 Medicare Advantage plans will be available for enrollment in 2018 — the largest number of plans available since 2009, according to data from Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit focused on national health issues. Medicare Advantage plans offer stability to insurers, a chance to keep patients within the system for providers and potential profitability for both. Plus, officials say, the plans offer more choices for seniors at a lower cost.

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Many insurers have reported significant membership gains in the plans over the last few years as baby boomers age into the Medicare program. Some insurers have entered the Medicare Advantage space, while others have left. Overall, the growth has been driven by existing insurers doubling down in the market and expanding their footprint, Jacobson said. Modern Healthcare, a sister publication of Crain’s Cleveland Business, reported in April that payment rates for insurers that sell Advantage plans will rise by 0.45% on average for 2018 — a better-than-expected pay bump. Medicare Advantage offers a “significant business opportunity,” said Allan Baumgarten, a Minnesota-based consultant who studies health care markets across the country. The market, in addition to being relatively stable, is growing. In 2017, one-third of Medicare beneficiaries, more than 19 million people, are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. That’s more than triple the 5.3 million people who were enrolled in 2004. In Northeast Ohio counties, the penetration rate, or the percent of Medicare beneficiaries in each county who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, ranges from 19% in Huron County to 47% in Stark County. Some areas offer a clear opportunity to pick up more Medicare Advantage enrollees, while that may be a heavier lift in counties with a higher penetration rate, Baumgarten said. Kevin Sears, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Market & Network Services, said he expects the Clinic plans to pick up enrollees from three main groups: Those aging into Medicare, beneficiaries who are already enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans

Outlook for 2018: Medicare Advantage in Ohio Number of Medicare Advantage plans available in Northeast Ohio for 2018, by county


27 15






37 18
















47 32

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

who will switch to the Clinic’s $0 monthly premium offerings, and those enrolled in traditional Medicare who will switch to an Advantage plan. “We fully expect that the penetration of Medicare Advantage plans will continue to increase as more traditional beneficiaries switch to Medicare Advantage,” Sears said. For 22 years, SummaCare has offered Medicare Advantage plans, which represent a “significant” portion of business for Summa Health’s health insurance company and have been “very critical” to its success, said Anne Armao, SummaCare’s vice president of marketing and Medicare and individual products. In 2014, SummaCare was sanctioned by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for its Medicare Advantage plans, but has since recovered from that bump in the road, boasting a 4.5 out of five star rating from CMS. “We have outstanding customer service satisfaction and our membership is growing, so we’ve done very well,” Armao said.

Sharing the risk SummaCare is co-branding its existing Medicare products with University Hospitals in markets with the health system’s facilities through a new collaborative agreement the two announced in September. Known as University Hospitals Medicare Advantage from SummaCare, the collaboration builds on a 10-year relationship between UH and SummaCare. The arrangement has built in a number of incentives for UH to perform on a number of metrics that improve quality and lower cost, said Brent Carson, UH vice president of managed care. “It’s really enabling us — the health plan and the provider — to work together in a more integrated fashion, where in the past we were operating very independently,” he said. The stability and growth of the Medicare Advantage market both helped the Clinic in deciding to partner in that space. Plus, the premiums are risk adjusted for more resource intensive or chronically ill patients, Sears said. “It’s nice not to have to worry about solvency,” he said. “We don’t have those concerns with the Medicare Advantage plans that we work with.” The Clinic has a shared-risk arrangement for both of its new part-

nerships. To the extent that there’s a higher prevalence of chronic disease among Medicare beneficiaries, which Sears said often is the case, there’s greater opportunity to manage those conditions and avoid acute exacerbations that may land someone in a hospital. “And so as we manage care more effectively among seniors with a higher prevalence of chronic disease, we’re able to have a greater impact on the overall health and wellbeing of the populations,” Sears said. “We’re able to create what Don Berwick, formerly head of CMS, calls the population health dividend and we’re able to share that dividend with Medicare beneficiaries, with our Medicare Advantage partners and obviously with the Clinic.” While that’s all nice, Sears said, patients are the foremost reason the Clinic offers these plans, which provide more options, richer benefits and more affordable solutions. Jacobson said there are various features of Medicare Advantage plans that make them an attractive choice for consumers: out-of-pocket costs can be lower and they often provide benefits that aren’t available on traditional Medicare, such as dental, vision, hearing aids and gym memberships. The trade-off, however, is that the plans often limit enrollees’ provider network and restrict which doctors they can see, whereas in traditional Medicare, beneficiaries can see any provider who accepts Medicare. That trade-off for consumers can be a big draw for providers, who are trying to keep care within their systems, Baumgarten said. “The hospital systems are trying as much as possible to keep that care within their own providers rather than see it leak out and go to other providers whether for inpatient or for outpatient,” he said. “And so they think that having their own Medicare Advantage plan gives them additional tools in keeping these patients within their own provider system.” Plus, providers are looking to maximize the amount of money they get for caring for seniors, Baumgarten said. “And they think that if they have their own Medicare Advantage plan that they’re able to control more of that health care dollar as opposed to being somewhere further down on the proverbial health care food chain.”

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Starting in the spring, the “Plug and Play Cleveland HealthTech Accelerator,” which will be located in about 10,000 square feet of downtown Cleveland’s Global Center for Health Innovation, will operate two cohort programs annually, inviting a group of at least 10 companies every six months. The Clinic will collaborate with up to six of the companies every year to pilot their health care innovations, according to the release. Ohio-based collaborators, including the Clinic and JumpStart, will work to encourage participating startups to stay in Cleveland upon completing the program. “There are no guarantees that the companies who come to Plug and Play are going to stay in Cleveland or in Ohio, but we’re going to move heaven and Earth for the ones that we think have the greatest potential to be successful growing here,” Leach said. JumpStart will continue its focus of investing in Ohio companies and plans to invest in some cohort members who commit to staying in Ohio. “The more vibrant that ecosystem, the more it helps us do our job, and some of that’s directly and some of that’s indirectly,” said Pete O’Neill, executive director of Cleveland Clinic Innovations. “If another company in our ecosystem has success, that helps us because it will help attract more entrepreneurs. It will help the investors that were part of that deal think favorably of the next Cleveland-based investment opportunity,” O'Neill said. “It will help attract and retain more employees here in the region, which will again make it easier for the next time we need to go find more employees. All of that, that infusion of momentum is just good for us.” Plug and Play, headquartered in Sunnyvale, Calif., has 24 other locations across four continents. Its en-

trance into Northeast Ohio represents its first U.S. location outside of California, O’Neill said. The Plug and Play model connects startups to investors and large corporations. The company maintains ties with 200

“There are no guarantees that the companies who come to Plug and Play are going to stay in Cleveland or in Ohio, but we’re going to move heaven and Earth for the ones that we think have the greatest potential to be successful growing here.” — Ray Leach, JumpStart CEO

leading Silicon Valley venture capital partners who monitor startups in the program when considering future investment opportunities, according to the release. It maintains a network of more than 200 corporate partners and connects them to accelerator startups directly impacting the partners’ industries. Existing Ohio-based corporate Plug and Play partners include Sherwin-Williams, Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., Proctor & Gamble, Avery Dennison, Westfield Insurance, Cin-

cinnati Financial, Nationwide and American Greetings. The accelerator also invests anywhere from $25,000 to $500,000 into more than 150 companies annually. The organization’s accelerator program has its roots in the Plug and Play Tech Center, the Palo Alto office that once housed early tenants such as Google, Danger and PayPal, according to the release. “We are thrilled to engage Cleveland’s robust health, industrial, and investment community to attract the most innovative digital health startups worldwide to Cleveland,” said Saeed Amidi, Plug and Play's founder and CEO. “We believe our efforts will accelerate the growth of Cleveland’s entrepreneurial economy through the connections we make between corporations, startups, and investors, creating value for all involved.” Cleveland Clinic and JumpStart will jointly fund the Cleveland HealthTech Accelerator, along with support from The Ohio Third Frontier. Leaders say they anticipate additional founding partners — including innovation- and commercialization-focused health care institutions, corporations and foundations both in and outside of Ohio — to join the initiative in the future. BioEnterprise recently was named to lead operations at the Global Center. The Clinic, JumpStart and Plug and Play plan to use the expertise of the BioEnterprise team as they work to incubate and develop companies. “The addition of Plug and Play to our growing innovation ecosystem is terrific for our County. As we work together to make this region a vibrant and prosperous one, we know that attracting big ideas, innovators and investors is crucial,” said Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish in a prepared statement. “With the addition of Plug and Play to the County’s Global Center for Health Innovation, we have taken another great step towards our goal of robust economic development fueled by innovation.”


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Apparel maker expands into old AG building By RACHEL ABBEY McCAFFERTY

National Safety Apparel’s name says it all: The Brooklyn-based company makes safety, rainwear, thermal and cut protection apparel for a variety of industries. (Contributed photo) @ramccafferty

National Safety Apparel has been growing rapidly in recent years, making acquisitions and adding on products. And it doesn’t show signs of slowing down any time soon. Indeed, the company recently opened a fulfillment center in Brooklyn, in the old American Greetings site, which also frees up space in its manufacturing operations in Cleveland for expansion. National Safety Apparel’s mission is pretty clear from its name: It makes safety apparel for a variety of industries. That ranges from flame and arc-resistant work wear for industries like utilities and manufacturing to arc flash personal protective equipment for people working in high-voltage environments, said Heidi Sweeney, director of marketing for National Safety Apparel. It also makes rainwear, thermal and cut protection products and field and combat gear for military. “Really ... the theme throughout all of the different verticals is safety,” Sweeney said. The family-owned company — owned and operated by Chuck Grossman Jr. — does not disclose its annual revenue, but Sweeney in an email said sales had grown more than two times from 2012 to 2016. And employment has increased, too. National Safety Apparel grew from about 150 employees in 2012 to

nearly 300 today. One of the big reasons has been the acquisitions the company has made, from Vinatronics in December 2012 to Drifire in June 2016. Vinatronics was a small company, but it “springboarded” National Safety Apparel into the high visibility market, said Sal Geraci, National Safety Apparel’s chief operating officer. Drifire’s multitasking products — they’re moisture-wicking, antimicrobial, flame-resistant and arc-rated, Sweeney said — expanded the company’s offerings further. And the acquisition of the Spentex and TecGen brands in between those added some proprietary, lightweight products to its portfolio. Many of the companies and brands acquired had been using contract manufacturers to make their products, Geraci said. Now National Safety Apparel aims to bring more of that work in-house. Most of its products already are made in Cleveland, though it uses some contract manu-

facturers, most of which Sweeney said are located in the U.S. Geraci said the company started looking at how to expand its manufacturing capabilities about a year ago. One option to give the company the space it needed would have been to move everything to a larger space. But the less-disruptive option was to create a fulfillment center with additional office space, freeing up some room at the main facility. National Safety Apparel took the latter route, so it didn’t have to move the manufacturing equipment, Geraci said. The space on the former American Greetings site was a good fit, in part because it’s within 10 minutes of the company’s headquarters in Cleveland. “It seemed like it had the potential to be exactly what we were looking for,” Geraci said. National Safety Apparel is renting the space in Brooklyn for an undisclosed amount. The new warehouse is about 48,000 square feet and the

office is about 12,000 square feet, both of which include room for future growth. The company moved in during September. The offices at the new fulfillment center are focused on sales support, like customer service and a new sales administration department. They also include the new strategic accounts team, which Sweeney said focuses on the company’s “top customers.” National Safety Apparel’s customers are distributors, some traditional, but also big-box customers like Amazon. National Safety Apparel is a supplier and a “great partner” to Stauffer Glove & Safety, said owner and vice president of marketing Kelly Stauffer. Stauffer Glove & Safety is a distributor of personal protective equipment headquartered in Red Hill, Pa., and it gets a lot of garments, particularly custom items, from National Safety Apparel. Stauffer said she likes the way the company does business, particularly its honesty. Alaska Textiles in Anchorage uses National Safety Apparel to make some of its Korbana Protective Apparel products. Alaska Textiles also buys some of National Safety Apparel’s products, like its shirts, jackets and rainwear, in addition to the private label work. National Safety Apparel’s personnel are really what make the relationship work, said Heidi Dubinsky, national sales manager for Korbana Protective Apparel. National Safety Apparel’s space in Brooklyn also has training rooms and a showroom. The new fulfillment

center holds the company’s finished goods inventory, and the company is using it as an opportunity to move some inventory from a third-party warehouse in the Chicago area to Northeast Ohio. Geraci said the company grew the fulfillment operation by five employees before the move to 20 total; 15 went to the new center, and five still work at the headquarters filling made-to-order orders. In total, Sweeney said about 40 employees work in the new space in Brooklyn. The expansion of the company’s manufacturing capacity is also underway, Geraci said, noting that the current push is to automate its work shirt production. That’s leading to the addition of 10 jobs. Geraci said the company also plans to add another 40 to 50 manufacturing jobs in 2018 to make military garments currently being made by outside contractors. While the company still has a lot of products made by hand — Geraci said it even employs a large number of refugees in part because sewing is a skill learned more often outside the U.S. — more of its processes are getting automated. It helps the company stay competitive against its peers that are importing products. And, Geraci said, if National Safety Apparel can “de-skill” the work so that people can serve as machine operators instead of sewers, it will become easier to find employees. “You could set a pocket with one of these automated machines in not even a tenth of the time that it would take to sew it manually. You do it with more precision,” Geraci said.

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PA G E 9

At the Table

Cleveland-area chefs flame out on Food Network So glad the Cavaliers topped the Boston Celtics in last week’s home opener. Otherwise, the evening would have been a total wash for Clevelanders — specifically, the four hometown chefs who appeared on Food Network shows. First it was 11-year-old Abby Feyedelem of Westlake, who lost her bid for the big prize on “Chopped Junior.” Abby was eliminated in the second round, when she was cut by judges for a flawed take on a soup made with goat meat and jicama. (Contestants on “Chopped Junior” and “Chopped” must prepare three dishes, each from a mystery basket of key ingredients.) Later that evening, on the network’s hit show “Chopped,” three of the professional chefs competing represented Cleveland businesses. They were Vinnie Cimino (The Greenhouse Tavern), Ben Bebenroth (Spice Kitchen and Spice Acres, his farm in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park) and Linda Pucci Delgado (a personal chef ). They were up against Nick Wallace, chef and culinary curator for the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson. The showdown was billed as “Alton’s Challenge,” starring Food Network celebrity Alton Brown. This installment was the first of a special five-part tournament, with a grand prize of $50,000. One component in each of the mystery bas-

kets was a “trap,” included to see whether the contestants would show some creativity or succumb to a common use of that ingredient. Joe Pucci DelgaCrea do was ousted after the first round, an appetizer that featured dried bacalao, dried tuna “floss” and instant mashed potatoes, which she produced as plain mashers. Next went Cimino. His entree of clams, mixed Mediterranean olives and Brown’s house-made beef jerky disappointed the judging panel, which included Brown, Amanda Freitag and Marcus Samuelsson. Though he made it to the final round — a dessert to be made from (get this) dehydrated scrambled eggs, dried pomegranate seeds, Sharon fruit and dehydrated space ice cream — Bebenroth flamed out. “I knew I went off the rails,” Bebenroth said on camera. Then later, speaking to the judges, he admitted to Samuelsson (who’d cautioned him earlier not to overthink his creations) that “I totally got in my own way.” That cost him the big prize, which went home with Wallace. He’ll be competing again for the $50,000 prize.

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Writing’s on the wall Graffiti Social Kitchen has closed. According to Scene magazine, owners Brian Okin and Adam Bostwick quietly closed the Battery Park landmark at 1261 W. 76th St. in Cleveland after brunch service on Sunday, Oct. 15. The partners will focus on their popular Broadview Heights restaurant, Cork & Cleaver, while focusing greater attention on their meatball concept, Polpetta at Porco. That eatery has a home at Porco Lounge and Tiki Room, 2527 W. 25th St., a few blocks south of the West Side Market. “Winter is a slow season over there (in Battery Park), so we saw that coming,” Okin told Scene’s Doug Trattner. “But I seriously believe in our meatball concept. I don’t want to be the guy who spreads himself so thin that I don’t do it right — and it just makes sense to do it right now.”

Pittsburgh sees Red It took a year-and-a-half since the agreement was first struck, but Red the Steakhouse operators Brad Friedlander and Jonathan Gross have finally seen a long-planned project come to fruition. They’ve just opened a spot in downtown Pittsburgh. The latest Red occupies some prime real estate at 600 Grant Street, in the landmark U.S. Steel Tower. It

joins sister operations in Cleveland, Beachwood, Indianapolis and Miami Beach. If you’re not familiar (and any beef-lover should be), Red has been acclaimed as “one of the five great steakhouses to visit in the United States” by Esquire, “prime in every way” by USA Today, and No. 8 of “America’s 50 Best Steakhouses” by the website Daily Meal.

Prices lowered for Beard event It’s nice to find a price-break. Last week, I wrote about the big James Beard Foundation dinner slated for Wednesday, Nov. 1, at the Hilton Cleveland Downtown. You’ll recall the Northeast Ohio installment of the JBF Celebrity Chef Tour will feature a lineup of Ohio chefs, among them Cleveland’s Dante Boccuzzi and Rocco Whalen, as well as host chef Maxime Kien. Well, ticket prices have been trimmed to $125 for the multicourse event. If you’re interested in attending, contact Jeff Black at 1-720-2011853 or email him at

Fire-ing up an Indian feast Here’s a great one for anyone who loves the North Union Farmers Market and the flavors of South


On Thursday, Sept. 28 at The Union Club of Cleveland, Crain’s Cleveland Business, Benesch, and Gridiron Capital hosted the Private Equity at Work breakfast. During the first fireside chat, attendees heard from LeafFilter founder and CEO Matt Kaulig, who provided perspective on what he looks for in a private equity partner and described the first year in partnership with Gridiron Capital. The second fireside chat featured Performance Health executives Marshall Dahneke and Rocco Mango in a discussion of the importance of finding a partner with an objective perspective and how the company benefited from its partnership with Gridiron Capital.

Asia. Culinary maestro Douglas Katz will host the “Curry Bowl Dinner Benefit” on Monday, Nov. 13, at Fire Food and Drink in Cleveland’s Shaker Square. From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., patrons can enjoy a bottomless bowlful of their choice of curries (Thai vegetable or Indian goat masala), served with basmati rice and a selection of accompaniments. But about those bowls. Katz has been working with Cleveland potter Billy Ritter to handcraft 100 ceramic bowls — each unique — that guests can have refilled throughout the dinner. At the end of the evening, they’ll take home the bowls. Proceeds benefit the market’s Harvest Space on Shaker Square. Tickets for the event are $50 per person and available online.

Cleveland Restaurant Week reminder Menus for Cleveland Restaurant Week (Nov. 1-15) will go live, online, on Monday, Oct. 23 on the Cleveland Independents website. That’s when you can make reservations at any of the participating restaurants, most of which will be offering three-course meals for $33 per person (exclusive of beverages, tax and tip). Prices may vary.

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Opinion Personal View

Issue 2 carries great risk for lawsuit abuse By CHRIS FERRUSO


Jackson, again Twelve years is a long time to occupy any executive position, especially the mayoralty of a large American city. Sixteen years? That’s a huge ask. But it’s just what Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson is asking of voters as he seeks an unprecedented fourth term in the job. While his record has some blemishes, Jackson has been a steady leader through difficult times, helping Cleveland maintain budget sanity and avoid the financial calamities that have affected Midwestern neighbors Chicago and Detroit. We recommend that voters stick with what has (mostly) worked and return Jackson to City Hall. An election involving a three-term incumbent inevitably is a referendum on that candidate, and this race has been no different. In that respect, challenger Zack Reed, a member of Cleveland City Council since 2001 who represents southeast neighborhoods in the city, has run an effective campaign that highlights some of the shortcomings of Jackson’s tenure. In particular, Reed has focused almost exclusively on public safety, arguing that a rise in murders and violent crime in Cleveland during the past few years has eroded the quality of life in the city and jeopardized economic development. If residents and business owners fear for their safety, he says, why would they commit to the city over the long term? That’s right, as far as it goes, but Reed’s solution — adding 400 police officers — is questionable from a budget standpoint, and it’s not much different from Jackson’s desire to add 300 officers by 2020. The recent rise of violent crime isn’t exclusive to Cleveland, its factors are complicated, and the evidence is unclear as to the extent the problem can be solved by adding officers. (Local researcher/blogger Tim Kovach did a fine analysis of these issues at Nonetheless, even if Reed isn’t the mayor next year, he will have done a service by focusing serious attention on safety, which is indeed a foundational element of a city’s success, like maintaining roads or keeping parks clean. Jackson is not, to say the least, an inspirational figure. He has

had some missteps of late, particularly with his handling of the routing of RTA buses through the renovated Public Square and his championing of a plan to build a $2.4 million dirt-bike track in the city. His record, though, is one of accomplishment, and he has a better grasp of detail than Reed on policy issues. On balance, Cleveland has been well run during Jackson’s tenure — a time including a severe recession and cuts in state funding that have put enormous pressure on Ohio’s cities. The mayor took the lead in asking Cleveland voters last year to pass a measure to raise the city income tax to 2.5% from 2%. No one likes to raise taxes, but passage of the hike will raise an additional $80 million a year and will plug budget shortfalls caused by state cuts, boost city services and pay for much-needed reforms to the police department. Jackson’s similarly engaged in improving Cleveland via the $65 million Neighborhood Transformation Initiative, a public/ private partnership to bolster development throughout the city. The onus is on the mayor to make sure the money is put to good use. We trust Jackson to be the one to do it.

Human moment

We expected our late-October sports attention would be on the Cleveland Indians. But after the team’s loss to the New York Yankees in the first round of the playoffs, it’s all on the Cavaliers to provide big-league sports thrills. And maybe something more than that. The home opener last week against the Boston Celtics featured a win but also a genuinely moving display of sportsmanship from players following a gruesome leg injury to Celtics forward Gordon Hayward. We hear a lot these days about athletes being “entitled,” or out of touch, or too political, but the looks on their faces as Hayward lay on the court, and their words later in support of an injured opponent, reflected a genuine humanity that we’d all do well to emulate.

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This Election Day, Ohio voters will be asked to cast their vote on Issue 2. In the voting booth, they’ll see two short paragraphs that describe this proposed new law that seeks to regulate how state government purchases prescription drugs for state-run programs. Members of the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice (OACJ) are most concerned with the provision of the proposal outlined in the second paragraph, which says the new law will: Establish that the individual petitioners responsible for proposing the law have a direct and personal stake in defending the law; require the state to pay petitioners’ reasonable attorney fees and other expenses; require the petitioners to pay $10,000 to the state if the law is held by a court to be unenforceable and limit petitioners’ personal liability to that amount; and require the attorney general to defend the law if challenged in court. For 30 years, OACJ has worked to promote a healthy economic climate in Ohio and focuses on stopping lawsuit abuse and promoting a common-sense civil justice system in Ohio. OACJ members are deeply concerned with Issue 2’s unprecedented legal provision that would grant special rights to a select group of four individuals — the issue sponsors — allowing them to intervene in legal challenges to the law if it passes, and requiring Ohio taxpayers to pay their associated legal fees regardless of the outcome of the challenge. Ohio experts have studied the issue and concluded that Issue 2 is costly, deceptive and ultimately is likely impossible to implement. Should Ohio voters pass Issue 2, the potential for costly, ongoing litigation is real. The leading proponent of Issue 2, California-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), and its subsidiaries have filed at least 52 lawsuits against government agencies in seven states, including three in Ohio. And three of the issue’s four sponsors work for AHF. Because Issue 2 lacks any operational guidelines for implementation, the challenge of trying to comply with the law will likely lead to administrative delays and bureaucratic disruption within state programs, and could have a negative impact on the very people it claims to help. Issue 2 calls for the state to pay no more for prescription drugs than the price paid by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Under federal law, however, the VA’s ultimate price is protected by law and not a matter of public record. Further, Ohio’s Medicaid program, which is responsible for three-quarters of the state’s prescription drug purchases, already receives discounts comparable to those of the VA. Under Issue 2, it’s a very real possibility that these discounts will be invalidated, and the state could end up paying more for prescription drugs than it currently does. Adding to this uncertainty, Ohio’s five public pension systems have argued that Issue 2 would not apply to them. The proponents of Issue 2, however, insist that it would. Again, the potential for litigation becomes clear, and this disagreement is likely to end up in court, with Ohio taxpayers paying the legal bills for both sides of the argument. OACJ joins more than 80 other Ohio organizations in opposing Issue 2, and encourages Ohioans to get the facts before heading to the polls. We stand with Ohio doctors, nurses, veterans, business, labor and patient advocates who have carefully considered Issue 2 and concluded it would create a bureaucratic, lawsuit laden nightmare for Ohio. Please vote no on Issue 2. Chris Ferruso is chair of the Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice, a nonprofit that includes more than 200 Ohio organizations and companies which has been working since 1987 to reform the civil justice system in the state.

Write us: Crain’s welcomes responses from readers. Letters should be as brief as possible and may be edited. Send letters to Crain’s Cleveland Business, 700 West St. Clair Ave., Suite 310, Cleveland, OH 44113, or by emailing Please include your complete name and city from which you are writing, and a telephone number for fact-checking purposes. Sound off: Send a Personal View for the opinion page to Please include a telephone number for verification purposes.




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Web Talk Re: Port authority OKs lakefront apartment financing The $11 million financial package for Harbor Verandas, a three-story apartment building that will rise just north of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is a typical, short-sighted plan by public officials. Sell off prime land and subsidize the sale to encourage someone to build some schlock on it so private developers can make money. This land could be used for a better, public purpose. Cleveland is truly the mistake by the lake. Who benefits the most from this plan? The developers, or the members of the public who are helping to finance this deal? — StopBackRoomDeals

Re: LeBron James' voice on social issues Do people actually think that LeBron James is having an impact? He's not. The second he or any of these multimillionaire privileged and coddled athletes speak about politics or policies they should be immediately ignored. The same goes for the sports media. It's the

70.61 ACRES Rendering of Harbor Verandas, to be built at the end of East Ninth Street. (Dimit Architects) only way they're ever going to stop. Every day I hear how it's so great athletes are speaking out, yet no one, I mean not one single person I know, thinks it's great. We watch sports to escape the realities of life, not to hear the players' thoughts on the news or on policy. It's ridiculous. When I want to focus on what's going on in the world, the country, what policies are harming or doing good, or thoughts on elected officials or politicians, I will watch the news, as it should be. The so-called "King" has spoken, and no one is listening. And even if we were going to hear the views of a professional athlete, no way in hell it's going to be LeBron James. — Joe


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hey are more than just number crunchers. They’re strategic thinkers and trusted advisers. ¶ Most importantly, they are trailblazers in their field. They have a passion for their work, their clients and the Northeast Ohio community. ¶ And in many cases, they are working tirelessly to provide opportunities for other women in the financial realm. ¶ For our first Influential Women in Finance feature, a group of Crain’s editors selected 15 women from an impressive pool of nominees representing the region’s wide-ranging sector of finance — a group that included bankers, accountants, lawyers, private equity principals, analysts, financial planners and others.



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M. Patricia (Pat) Oliver Partner and chair of financial services practice, Tucker Ellis In the highly regulated world of corporate and financial services, Pat Oliver is a creator, building industry-based departments to address the growing requirements of banks and other money-lending institutions. During her 37-year career, Oliver’s crack legal teams have tackled everything a bank needs in terms of litigation — from employee compensation issues to complex regulatory compliance cases. Recruited for this purpose by Tucker Ellis in 2013, Oliver developed an in-house financial practice comprised of talent from within the firm. “The big challenge was convincing everyone we could have an industry-based practice,” Oliver said. “It’s been a great opportunity for us. It’s just been a matter of clients getting used to the new team.”

FIVE THINGS Recent favorite read: “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly

Role model: Her husband, Jim Oliver, both as a person and as a lawyer Something others may not know: She is passionate about watercolor painting.

Favorite Cleveland hot spots: Clifton Beach, Beck Center, Cleveland Museum of Art and Cleveland Zoo

Bucket list item: Painting in gardens in France and Italy

The firm’s full-service financial department parallels a cross-functional operation Oliver built in the late ‘90s while a partner at Squire, Sanders &

Dempsey. Transferring her multimillion-dollar, worldwide model to Tucker Ellis wasn’t a one-to-one transition, but it’s had similar success so far.

“It’s grown from an initiative to a full-blown practice,” Oliver said. “We want to be the one a bank calls for any legal issue they bump into.” Oliver, trained at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law as a corporate generalist, developed a fervor for the financial services industry early in her career. Along with her work at Squire Sanders, the Lakewood resident created a legal department structure at BB&T Corporation, one of the country’s 10 largest bank holding companies. “I like to develop things and understand how legal services fit within a business,” Oliver said. “The technical side is interesting, but I’ve always enjoyed the client interaction and relationships.” Brian O’Neill, a Tucker Ellis partner and chair of the business department, met Oliver 25 years ago as a member of the Cleveland Metropoli-

tan Bar Association. O’Neill has followed her career ever since, tabbing her as the ideal hire to take the firm in its new, necessary direction. “I looked around the region and Pat jumped off the page as being the logical choice to launch this practice,” O’Neill said. “This is a niche area, and she has an incredible working knowledge of the industry. She’s been on the inside and is able to see (the operation) from both the lawyer and client side.” Combining those well-honed areas of expertise to expand her firm’s reach has been a challenge and a joy, and Oliver is thankful for what is now her third opportunity to build a new department practically from scratch. “My career has continued to evolve, and I’ve built on every experience I’ve had,” Oliver said. “Tucker Ellis has been the perfect fit for me.” — Douglas J. Guth

ating deals and securing financing for companies instead of arguing. She preferred having people excited to see her enter the room. Brandt would not only go on to run Thompson Hine’s commercial and public finance group, but lead the firm's New York office, where she drove hiring of women and minorities. The office would have the most female partners upon her return to Cleveland. Now a veteran in her field, Brandt is still guided by the same principles of hard work her family instilled in her that, she said, will garner women the respect they deserve in the professional world. “The challenge that has always been there that I believe I’ve overcome over the years is the age old: women just aren’t as smart. They’re not good enough at this or tough

enough for that,” she said. “I’ve had to work very hard at all sorts of different things to overcome this built-in bias that I’m not as competent.” Today, Brandt’s work precedes her, whether it’s her track record in overseeing complex financing deals for companies, being a true leader in the law firm she’s helped build or lending her financial acumen in the nonprofit world where she’s served the Make-A-Wish Foundation of America or the Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Foundation. “She’s a very hard worker, extremely bright,” said Thompson Hine managing partner Deborah Read. “She quickly saw that for that office to grow and for us to set the right tone for a lot of the female associates and non-partner lawyers we were hiring that we needed some role models. That was her.” — Jeremy Nobile

Katherine D. Brandt Partner, Thompson Hine Whether negotiating deals, running a legal practice or playing basketball on lawyer squads as the only woman, Brandt has thrived in a man’s world. With a self-confessed love for debate she discovered in high school, Brandt aspired to be a litigator. But, following in her father’s footsteps, she studied engineering, landing a job at Texas Instruments out of college. She left the company, where female colleagues were few and far between, five years later to chase a law career. That unconventional path to law was “probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me,” she said. “It taught me a lot of things that have served me in my legal practice,” said Brandt, a partner at Thompson Hine in the commercial and public

FIVE THINGS Special talents: She loves to sing and play piano.

Favorite singers: Pink, Alicia Keys and Tom Petty

If she woke up tomorrow as a professional athlete, she’d be: Playing shortstop for the Cleveland Indians

If not a lawyer, what? CEO of a manufacturing company

People would be surprised to know: When living in Dallas, she tried out for the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders.

finance group, “not the least of which is how to be successful in a male-dominated industry.”

Landing at Thompson Hine out of law school, Brandt dabbled in bankruptcy litigation during her first year, but soon learned she enjoyed negoti-

Linda M. Olejko Managing director, new business development, Glenmede Trust Co., Cleveland Some people choose a career path that follows a key interest or skill set. Others follow one that provides a sense of challenge, adventure or freedom. Linda Olejcko traces her career choice to a desire for job security. During her first professional role in the early ‘80s, Olejko was “reassigned” because of a pregnancy leave, although, she noted, male colleagues who took time off for things like gall bladder surgery maintained their positions. She managed to get her job back after a labor relations dispute, but ultimately left the company to pursue what she perceived as a more strategic role — sales. “If you are in a sales role and you are a producer and you are bringing revenue to the firms, then I think the gender diversity sort of goes away,” Olejko said.

FIVE THINGS Growing up, she wanted to be: A mom Favorite local golf course: Sand Ridge Role model: Hillary Clinton Binge-worthy show: “Game of Thrones” Ideal meal: Fresh seafood with a big salad from her garden finished with dark chocolate and a good glass of wine

She joined American Express Financial Advisors in 1983, managing the sales and business operations of

its Cleveland division over the next eight years before accepting business development leadership positions at

Bank One and Key Bank. In April 2003, she took on the challenge of changing the local perception of Glenmede Trust Co., a 60-year-old wealth and investment management firm, coming on as its business development managing director. Philadelphia-based Glenmede’s reputation at the time was that of a “white glove” investment adviser for the extremely rich. The company traces its origins back to the Sun Oil Co. and its Pew family founders. “We are not for the ultra-wealthy,” she said. “We are for high-net-worth individuals, so our sweet spot is really working with individuals with between $5 million and $50 million in investable assets.” Olejko fortified the Cleveland office by raising the profile of Glenmede among Northeast Ohio attorneys, accountants and the planned

giving departments of nonprofits and fostering, among the local advisers, a balance between best practices in strategic financial advice and Midwestern values, according to Larry Hatch, the firm’s regional director. Hatch said during Olejko’s leadership the Cleveland office has leapt from $750 million to $3.5 billion in assets under management. “In my humble opinion, she is actually the best salesperson in the region,” he said, adding, however, that Olejko’s positive influence extends into the community. That includes one prominent role as a past president of the Estate Planning Council and serving on boards affiliated with groups like the Gates Mills Land Conservancy and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. — Judy Stringer

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Radhika Reddy Partner, Ariel Ventures

PROMOTE. Why not?

Radhika Reddy is always looking for new opportunities — both for herself, a native of India, and for others, especially other immigrants looking to start new businesses. Reddy’s search for new opportunities began in 1989 when she came to Cleveland on a Rotary International graduate scholarship to attend graduate school at Case Western Reserve University. While in school she took a job with a software company that was struggling. “I helped turn around that company,” she said. “And the bankers, seeing the work I was doing, referred me to other companies. So, when I got my green card, I started my own business doing turnarounds, international business and finance.” Since then, she has enjoyed a career that has included manufacturing, economic development, real estate, and international business and finance. “I’m always looking for ways to use our expertise to help small businesses grow,” she said. “I love running small businesses.” In 2011, Ariel Ventures, the company she and partner Irene Zawadiwsky own, saw an opportunity to buy an old, four-story brick building on East 40th Street overlooking Lake Erie. Formerly the home of Leff Electric, it’s now called the Ariel International Center. Naturally, it’s home to Ariel Ventures, a firm that offers finance, economic development and information technology consulting services. It’s also home of the Ariel Economic Development Fund, which can help communities use New Markets Tax Credits to develop low-income communities. With the involvement with tax credits came another opportunity. Since a development that wins tax credits needs to document closely its transactions and tax flow to the Internal Revenue Service and other government watchdogs, Ariel created CDe-Solution, software that handles federal tax credit management, compliance and reporting. The Ariel Center is also an international business incubator, offering office space and shared services, including finance, tax and other services to its startup tenants, whose

35th Anniversary

35th Anniversary



ALLYSON O’KEEFE, 37 Partner; Porter Wright

35th Anniversary


VOL. 36, NO. 47

NOVEMBER 23 - NOVEMBER 29, 2015 Allyson O’Keefe started her legal career at Porter Wright in 2004 after completing a summer internship there as a Case Western Reserve University law student. Since then, she has worked on many significant deals across Cleveland, including Flats East Bank, The Metropolitan at the 9, Uptown in University Circle and Steelyard Commons, and has been promoted to real estateALLYSON partner. O’KEEFE, 37 “Young professionals who live downtown are so excited about the city,” said O’Keefe, a Partner; Porter Columbus native who lived downtown forWright 10 years before moving to Rocky River. “The ones who aren’t from here are often more excited about it. When you move here from somewhere else, you don’t for granted.” VOL. 36, NO. take 47 it Allyson NOVEMBER 23 - NOVEMBER NOVE EMBER 29, 29, 2015 201 O’Keefe started her legal career at Porter Wright in 2004 after completing a sumWhen O’Keefe is not working or spending time with her husband and two children, she can mer internship there as a Case Western Reserve University law student. Since then, she has be found volunteering on the boards of nonprofit organizations and watching college football. worked on many significant deals across Cleveland, including Flats East Bank, The Metropolitan at the 9, Uptown in University Circle and Steelyard Commons, and has been proWHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT YOUR WORK? moted to real estateALLYSON partner. O’KEEFE, Just seeing what Cleveland has gone through in the time that I’ve 37 been here, there’s obvious“Young professionals who live downtown are so excited about the city,” said O’Keefe, a ly a lot of excitement around real estatePartner; development. I started in 2004 when we were crazy Porter Columbus native who lived downtown for Wright 10 years before moving to Rocky River. “The ones busy with development. That was sort of the boom from ’04 through ’08. I saw it go through who aren’t from here are often more excited about it. When you move here from somewhere the downturn, then I saw it rise again, even stronger than before locally. else, you don’t take it for granted.” Allyson O’Keefe started her legal career eer at Porter Wright in 2004 after comple completing etin ng a sumsumWhen O’Keefe is not working or spending time with her husband and two children, she can law student. Since tthen, hen, she sh he has has mer internship as a Case Western Reserve University WORKED ON there ARE MIXED-USE URBANnPROJECTS. IS MANY OF THE PROJECTS YOU be found volunteering on the boards of nonprofit organizations and watching college football. ss Cleveland, including Flats East Bank, The The worked on many significant deals across THAT AN AREA OF EXPERTISE? Metropolitan at the 9, Uptown in every University and Steelyard Commons, and rsity d has has ha s been be een proproro Yes, definitely. Real estate is extremely interesting because deal Circle is differWHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT YOUR WORK? moted to real estate ent. You can never get bored because there’s so partner. much variety there, from tax Just seeing what Cleveland has gone through in the time that I’ve been here, there’s obviousown are O’Keefe e, a “Young who live downtown so excited about the city,” said O’Keefe, credits to historic renovations, from professionals ground-up development to rehab, from ly a lot of excitement around real estate development. I started in 2004 when we were crazy Rive er. “The “T “The ones ones mixed-use to residential. Columbus native who lived downtown for 10 years before moving to Rocky River. busy with development. That was sort of the boom from ’04 through ’08. I saw it go through xcited about it. When you move here from m somewhere som somew ewhere ere who aren’t from here are often more excited the downturn, then I saw it rise again, even stronger than before locally. else, you LEADERSHIP don’t take it for granted.” YOUR STYLE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE


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with her husband and two child dre en, sh he c he an O’KeefeI expect is not working or spending timeI work, children, she can I definitely believe in leadingWhen by example. the people withding whom MANY OF THE PROJECTS YOU WORKED ON ARE MIXED-USE URBAN PROJECTS. IS collle eg ge football. foo fo ottball. be found volunteering on the very boards off nonprofit and watching college my associates, to work hard, and they see me working hard. For me, it’sorganizations all THAT AN AREA OF EXPERTISE? about working hard and doing good work. Yes, definitely. Real estate is extremely interesting because every deal is differRK? WHAT INSPIRES YOU ABOUT YOUR WORK? ent. You can never get bored because there’s so much variety there, from tax Just WHAT seeingWAS whatITCleveland has gone the time that I’ve been here, there’s hrough th here e’s obviousobviousus LIKE TO WORK WITHthrough O’KEEFEinON WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: credits to historic renovations, from ground-up development to rehab, from ly a lot of excitement around real estate te development. I started in 2004 when we we were were e crazy crazy THE FLATS EAST BANK PROJECT? mixed-use to residential. busy with development. of the boom from ’04 through ’08. I saw itt go go through th hrough “Allyson is extremely bright and quick witted, butThat whatwas trulysort distinguishes her the downturn, then I saw itpeople rise again, even from most successful attorneys is her exceptional skills. Shestronger has an than before locally. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE? uncanny ability to encourage the ‘adversaries’ in her negotiations to work in I definitely believe in leading by example. I expect the people with whom I work, OF THE PROJECTS YOU YOU WORKED Wsaid ORKED ON ON ARE ARE MIXED-USE MIXED-USE URBAN URBAN PROJECTS. PROJECTS. IS IS concert with her to achieve win/win MANY solutions to difficult problems,” my associates, to work hard, and they see me working very hard. For me, it’s all THAT AN AREA EXPERTISE? TISE?of the Scott Wolstein, CEO of Starwood Retail Partners andOF co-developer about working hard and doing good work. e is extremely interesting because every deal deal is differdifferrYes, definitely. Real estate Flats East Bank project. ent. You can never get bored there, red because there’s so much variety the ere, ffrom rom m ttax ax — Lee Chilcote WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO WORK WITH O’KEEFE ON tions, from ground-up development to rehab, re ehab, from fro om credits to historic renovations, THE FLATS EAST BANK PROJECT? mixed-use to residential. “Allyson is extremely bright and quick witted, but what truly distinguishes her

successfulInc. attorneys is reserved. her exceptional people skills. She has an Reprinted with permission from the Crain's Cleveland Business. © 2015from Crainmost Communications All Rights YOU DESCRIBE RIBE YOUR YOUR LEADERSHIP LEADERSHIP STYLE? STYLE? HOW WOULD ability to encourage the ‘adversaries’ in her negotiations to work in Further duplication without permission is prohibited. Visituncanny #CC15040

I definitely believe in leading ding by example. I expect the people with h whom whom m I work, rk concert with her to achieve win/win solutions to difficult problems,” said my associates, to work hard, and they see me working very hard hard. d. For For me, me e, it’s all a Scott Wolstein, CEO of Starwood Retail Partners and co-developer of the about working hard and doing good work. Flats East Bank project.

— Lee Chilcote YING: WHAT WHAT WAS WAS IT IT LIKE LIKE TO TO WORK WORK WITH WITH O’KEEFE O’KEEFE ON ON WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING: THE FLATS EAST BANK PROJECT? PROJECT? “Allyson is extremely bright right and quick witted, but what truly distinguishes dis stin nguish hes her hes

successfulInc. attorneys her exceptional people skills. skills s. She She has has an ha Reprinted with permission from the Crain's Cleveland Business. © 2015from Crainmost Communications All Rightsisreserved. ourage negotiatio ons to to work w wo orrk k in n ability to encourage the ‘adversaries’ in her negotiations Further duplication without permission is prohibited. Visituncanny #CC15040

hieve win/win solutions to difficult probl bllem ms,” s,” said concert with her to achieve problems,” Scott Wolstein, CEO off Starwood Retail Partners and co-developer co-deve evel velo ve elo el ope pe er off the the e ct. Flats East Bank project. — Lee Le Ch Chilcote C

Reprinted with permission from the Crain's Cleveland Business. © 2015 Crain rain Communications nss IInc Inc. nc. nccc. All n Al Rights Rig rese reserved. rved d. Further duplication without permission is prohibited. Visit ww.crainscleveland. and.c nd d.ccom. o om. m #CC15040

U PCOMI NG ENTERTAI NMENT CLEVELAND BUSINESS 700 W. St. Clair Ave., Suite 310, Cleveland, OH 44113-1230 Phone: (216) 522-1383 | | @CrainsCleveland Elizabeth McIntyre Mary Kramer Scott Suttell Tim Magaw David Kordalski Damon Sims Sue Walton Kevin Kleps Stan Bullard Real estate/ construction Reporters Jay Miller, Government Dan Shingler Energy/steel/auto Rachel McCafferty Manufacturing/ energy Jeremy Nobile, Finance Lydia Coutré, Health care Data editor Chuck Soder Cartoonist Rich Williams

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PA G E 15

Sonia H. Mintun FIVE THINGS Hobby: Travel — she has been to 65 countries on five continents. Next vacation: Australia, Fiji and New Zealand to bring the total to six continents In high school, she thought she’d be: A doctor Best advice received: Always do what’s right and never hurt others to get ahead in life. Favorite spot in Cleveland: Watching the sun set over the downtown skyline from the top of the Ariel International Center

businesses have an international flavor. Reddy has even made small seed investments in several of the businesses. The building is also an event center, with a fourth-floor banquet hall with 360 degree views of Northeast Ohio. Since buying that building, she has expanded her real estate holdings to include a nearby building and a former bank building in the Old Brooklyn neighborhood that is now a West Side banquet hall, the Ariel Pearl Center. “When I came as an international student I didn’t find much international stuff in Cleveland,” she said. “I wanted to create a one-stop international center in Cleveland.” Joe Cimperman, president of Global Cleveland, the nonprofit that connects international newcomers to the economic and social opportunities of Cleveland, considers Reddy a mentor. “She is all about helping the next newcomer,” he said. “So many people trot out the old adage about leaving the door open. Well, Radhika takes her screwdriver and drill, pops the hinges, and takes off the door completely.” — Jay Miller





Managing director, portfolio manager, Ancora Advisors


Sonia Mintun is not only doing what she loves in managing other people’s investments, she’s darn good at it. Funny how that happens. Mintun said she got a taste for working in finance and investments early on and never lost it. It might be in her blood. Her older brother is a venture capitalist. But it must have also skipped a generation, as Mintun said both her parents were anesthesiologists when she was growing up in Baltimore. Or, perhaps, she said it might be because finance is less messy — no cadavers or frogs to cut up. Working with numbers and people suits her better. She started in the ‘80s with a unit of Shearson Lehman. She was managing equities at first, but was soon moved to fixed income — where she worked on high-yield bonds and went to Drexel-Burnham conferences. It was one of the few times when the world of finance was dramatic enough to make movies about and she said she learned a lot — quickly. Today, after also working in corporate finance, she’s back to managing equities for individual client portfolios at Ancora Advisors in Mayfield Heights. The firm handles more than $5 billion in assets — including the more than $100 million

Favorite restaurants: Blue Point Grille in Cleveland and Downtown 140 in Hudson

Favorite theatrical performance: “Hamilton”

Favorite concert: U2 (all-time), Bruno Mars (recently) Favorite travel destination: Italy Favorite thing to do close to home: Hike the South Chagrin reservation

in dividend equities that Mintun handles. After 30 years of handling other’s wealth, she said she never tires of it. “I really like to be able to help people. I have a lot of female clients and a lot of them need help with budgeting and whatnot … a lot of them are widows,” she said. And though she may not miss the days when junk bonds and contentious hostile takeovers were in the headlines on a regular basis, she said finance never becomes boring. “The other neat thing is every day is a little different. You don’t know what to expect because company earnings and the markets react to one thing or another,” she said. What she never planned on, though, was moving to Northeast Ohio, that’s something — depend-

ing on the weather — she credits to or blames on her husband, Mike. The two met in college and he’s an executive at Lincoln Electric. Ancora chief investment officer John Micklitsch said Mintun has been great for both his firm and its clients. From the time she joined the firm in 2008 and started her strategy, High Dividend Equity, it has grown more than 10-fold and earned annualized returns over 13% (through June 20, 2017). “Once the success of the strategy became apparent, fellow relationship managers were eager to utilize Sonia’s product for their clients. Sonia has become an integral part of the investment team and her strategy is a key piece of many client portfolios,” Micklitsch said. — Dan Shingler

Forward thinker. Passionate leader. Family man.





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Angela Mago

Ndeda Letson FIVE THINGS

Co-head, Key Corporate Bank; Group head, KeyBank Real Estate Capital KeyBank probably wouldn’t be one of the largest commercial banks in the country today if not for Angela Mago steering its largest business. Thriving in complexity, Mago, a 30-year veteran of the company, says managing such critical and high-pressure businesses has kept banking exciting for her. But whether it’s her colleagues or those benefiting from Key’s work, what drives her is helping other people. “When you target your clients well, you figure out what they need from you. You bring distinctive capabilities to the table to help them grow and you see teams rally around the customer to enable us to win,” she said. “It’s very, very gratifying.” Having worked in senior housing before her current roles, Mago has found a personal mission in the development of real estate. As head of the real estate capital group, she leads a team of more than 700 people that generated more than $13 billion of financing in 2016. Overseeing $16.5 billion in community lending commitments associated with Key’s acquisition of First Niagara Bank in Buffalo is just the latest massive undertaking for her — a duty that might seem overwhelming to others, let alone running the national bank’s single largest business line.

Favorite pastime: Boating People would be surprised to know: She has two adopted kids from Korea, Emily, 18, and Josh, 20. What she’s reading: “The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future” Childhood heroes: Her older sister, Coni If not finance, what? Working for a nonprofit or community development group

Her passions extend to the nonprofit world where she uses her elite financial acumen as treasurer for Cleveland’s Neighborhood Progress Inc.. Acutely aware of her talents and financial knowledge, executives have asked her to take on additional work and greater responsibility throughout her career at Key. Known for intense thoughtfulness, she’d always take several days to consider whether a job was right for her. “She’s low-key, with a quiet confidence about her,” said E.J. Burke, co-president of Key Community Bank. “She’s forward-thinking. She plans. Real estate capital is one of Key’s largest business lines and its most successful that impacts the company overall. There’s no question she’s put her mark on this business.”

Mago helped develop a women’s network at Key to address their needs, including how to manage family and career. Among other things, the program also helps groom women for leadership roles at the bank. What she’s learned through the years, though, is that people will invest in potential. “You have to acknowledge that, have the confidence to get the job done and realize people wouldn’t be tapping you on the shoulder if they didn’t think you were capable,” Mago said. “I would encourage women to be continuous learners and to be true to yourself and your passions. Show up well in whatever you do,” she added. “And don’t put blinders on in terms of what you’re capable of.” — Jeremy Nobile

Investing in

Vice president and community development market manager, Citizens Bank Within a span of about five minutes, Amy Herlehy said “passion” six times while describing the work of Ndeda Letson. Letson, who has been with Citizens Bank for six years, manages the company’s community and business development, as well as its volunteer work, in Ohio and Michigan. “She doesn’t just do her job,” Herlehy, who is a senior vice president and the director of Citizen Bank’s community development market management, said of Letson. “She is personally involved with the community. That’s in everything she does. Everything is a passion for her.” Letson’s contributions “are visible” in every market of Citizens’ 11-state footprint, the bank said. In 2014, for example, Letson, when faced with the challenge of training hundreds of new mortgage loan officers in a span of a few years, co-developed an internal webinar-based training program. The program, according to the bank, is a “thoughtful and efficient” way to support Citizens’ growth plan and revenue targets, and it informs trainees of business development opportunities in their service areas. Letson said her proudest accomplishment at Citizens is “creating opportunities for colleagues to showcase their leadership talents, serve customers and give back in the communities where they live and work.” It’s a motto by which Letson lives, Herlehy said. “She wants to help people and make their lives better — understand financial education, get a homeowner into their first home,” Herlehy said. “In everything she does, she takes it to that next level.” Letson has helped Citizens Bank forge partnerships with a range of organizations that includes Youth Opportunities Unlimited and Growth Opportunity Partners. The Y.O.U. partnership helps young adults gain exposure to career paths that include entrepreneurship. Citizens has also, via its outreach with Growth Opportunity


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FIVE THINGS Hobbies: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Reading and gardening â&#x20AC;&#x201D; more like landscaping.â&#x20AC;? Nice name: Letson has a dog who goes by â&#x20AC;&#x153;T-REX.â&#x20AC;?

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Blast from the past: Letsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mother named her after â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ndeda,â&#x20AC;? a 1972 album by Quincy Jones.

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Carina S. Diamond

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Favorite book: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Kindredâ&#x20AC;? by Octavia E. Butler Preferred Northeast Ohio spot: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Any place I can ride a bike or celebrate the arts.â&#x20AC;?

Partners, created a resource hub that assists small business owners throughout the life cycle of their company. Asked how she got where she is today, Letson deflected credit. â&#x20AC;&#x153;On the shoulders of countless others,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For those of us who are fortunate enough to be recognized by our community, it is a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge those who paved the way. There is great value in being prepared, and nobility in giving thanks.â&#x20AC;? Letsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s civic involvement includes work with Growth Opportunity Partners, University Circle, the Community Building Partnership of Stark County, Toledo LISC and the Cleveland Leadership Center. Since 2015, Letson and a team of more than 20 community ambassadors at the bank have given 2,500 hours of financial advice, and almost half of that service has been in Northeast Ohio. Letsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best piece of financial advice for a young person: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Find what moves you. Find what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re great at. Show up â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 80% of success comes from doing just that. Fund your daydream. Invest in yourself and invest in others.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Kevin Kleps






Managing director, Springside Partners and SS&G Wealth Management When Carina S. Diamond was young, she wanted to be a child psychologist. As she became an adult, she realized that helping people with their finances actually involves a similar skill set. Diamond has spent 30 years helping people manage their money, including the past 15 years as managing partner of SS&G Wealth Management in Akron, a company that manages $225 million. Three years ago, she launched a second company, Springside Partners, which is a registered investment adviser that charges clients an annual fee based on total assets instead of transaction fees. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s been a success: the company already has almost $200 million in assets under management. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wanted to be able to demonstrate that we are all about the client,â&#x20AC;? Diamond said. She also takes pride in helping her clients do more than just invest their money. She uses those psychology skills that so appealed to her as a child to help them plan their lives in a big picture way. When a client is considering retirement, for example, she encourages them to start planning their â&#x20AC;&#x153;next act.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Is there a hobby they could make into a part-time job? Could they be a consultant?â&#x20AC;? she asks.

Worst job: Babysitting for four kids, one parrot and two dogs for $1/hour when she was 11. Latest read: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Spinning into Controlâ&#x20AC;? by local businessman Patrick Finley Car accessory: A hula dancer on her dashboard reminds her to shake things off. Her miracle trait: Grit Favorite quote: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I touch the future. I teach.â&#x20AC;? (Christa McAuliffe, Challenger crew)

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The money they can earn is helpful for living a longer life, but it also is so important for their emotional and mental health to stay vital and contributing, and connected with people.â&#x20AC;? Leslie Ungar, owner of Electric Impulse Communications, characterizes Diamond as a strong leader who can make connections with people that help them reach their goals. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She has the ability to see where she wants to go and to connect with her team and her clients along the way,â&#x20AC;? Ungar said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;She happens to use those skills in the playground of finance but she could take them into anything.â&#x20AC;? Diamond also has a special passion for helping women with their money, recognizing that less than 16% of financial advisers national-

ly are women, yet more than 80% of women will end up solely responsible for their own finances. She created the Carina Diamond Endowed Scholarship for Financial Planning at the University of Akron this year to encourage more women to pursue careers in the field. She also began offering seminars for women to learn about finances seven years ago. The program has hosted more than a thousand women to date. She attributes her career successes to resilience, innovation and relentless energy. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve made my biggest strides professionally taking on tasks or roles that others didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want,â&#x20AC;? she said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Being a fixer, and being able to reinvent and to motivate, are differentiating skills.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Beth Thomas Hertz

PA G E 18


O C T O B E R 2 3 - 2 9 , 2 017 |



Anne Richie


Venture partner, JumpStart

Tucker Ellis congratulates this year’s “Influential Women in Finance” class, including our very own




Anne Richie spent most of her career working for banks, but she’s never made a loan. Instead, she worked with companies that had trouble paying them back. Oddly enough, it didn’t stress her out — she enjoyed crawling into the trenches with struggling business owners and helping them fix tough problems. It also proved to be great training for her current job. Since August 2016, Richie has worked as a venture partner at JumpStart in Cleveland. Though the nonprofit is best known for working with local startups, Richie works with established companies, which pay a fee for JumpStart’s assistance. She hunts for coachable business owners running companies with growth potential, then she connects them with whomever can help them best. Sometimes it’s a colleague at JumpStart. Sometimes it’s a vendor JumpStart has worked with in the past. But if they need help with finance or growth strategy, she’ll often work with them herself. Unlike her old clients, the companies she works with today tend to be reasonably healthy. But the skills she developed as a loan workout officer can benefit them nonetheless. After all, she has spent a lot of time asking rigorous questions, using financial statements to pinpoint problems and helping business owners hunt for creative solutions. The Beachwood resident said she’s always been a numbers person, but she realizes that many of the business owners she works with — through JumpStart or through the financial courses she teaches through the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program at Cuyahoga Community College — weren’t born with that predisposition. So she tells them to think about numbers a little bit differently. “Don’t get scared about the numbers and the math. Think about the story the numbers tell about the business,” she said. Richie is particularly good at helping people understand complex, abstract ideas, according to Patrice Blake-

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Rachel L. Rawson Partner, Jones Day

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As the leader of Jones Day’s banking and finance practice in Cleveland, Rachel L. Rawson has earned a reputation as someone who knows how to find innovative solutions for complex financial needs. “I enjoy helping people and companies navigate the intersection of law and business,” she said. Among her accomplishment, she advised Peabody Energy Corp. of St. Louis on its $800 million debtor-in-possession financing facility in 2016. The arrangement gave Peabody access to capital to allow it to continue operating during the Chapter 11 process. Rawson also advised Peabody in connection with its $950 million secured exit credit facility. “We were able to save a company, which saved jobs and saved communities,” she said. “Those are times where you actually feel like what we do can make a difference in people’s lives.” She also advised Sprint Corp. in the issuance of $3.5 billion in notes by certain special-purpose subsidiaries of the company in 2016. The transaction’s structure was significant in that the subsidiaries had acquired a portfolio of Federal Communications Commission licenses and a number of third-party leased license agreements, and the assets in the portfolio served as collateral for the issued notes. The portfolio is leased back to Sprint pursuant to a long-term agreement, and the resulting payments are sufficient to service the notes. Heather Lennox, partner-in-charge of Jones Day’s Cleveland office, described Rawson’s contributions as the first woman in Jones Day’s banking and finance practice as “remarkable.” “In a field long dominated by men, Rachel was an early trailblazer. Now a senior banking and finance partner, she continues to pay it forward by mentoring younger female attorneys who are interested in finance and assisting with their growth, development and promotion in her practice area,” Lennox said.


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O C T O B E R 2 3 - 2 9 , 2 017


PA G E 19



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Sweet spot: She typically works with companies with between $5 million and $50 million in annual revenue. Strange motivation: She likes riding her bike through Cleveland streets full of old factories. “I appreciate that history. It’s motivating.”


Young photographer: She’s enjoyed taking pictures since age 7.


Recommended reading: “The History of Black Business in America” by Juliet E. K. Walker More hobbies on the way: She’ll become an empty nester a year from now. By then she says she “might have 50 hobbies.”

more, business adviser for the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program. Blakemore knows from experience, having sat in on some of Richie’s classes at Tri-C. “Every time I’m in her class I learn something new,” she said. Today, Richie often finds herself working with minority and female business owners. However, when she was a banker — she previously worked for Bank of Boston, Citicorp, KeyBank and The Home Savings & Loan Co. of Youngstown — the owners were usually white men. She was almost always the only black woman in the room. But those surface differences melted away quickly once they got to work. They knew that she was genuinely trying to help them during a time when they badly needed help, Richie said. — Chuck Soder

and the other finalists for being recognized as influential women in finance. BDO Cleveland 1422 Euclid Avenue, Suite 1500 Hanna Building Cleveland, OH 44115 / 216-325-1700 Accountants and Advisors

© 2017 BDO USA, LLP. All rights reserved.





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Top priority: Her two 20-something kids Exercise feat: She’s run more than 15 marathons. More exercise: She captains a team of 12 competitive long-distance runners. Best advice she’s received: Have a plan, but recognize it will evolve. Nomadic childhood: She grew up in Lebanon, Greece, Costa Rica and Haiti.

Rawson also gives her time and financial acumen to numerous charitable organizations. She works with Heights Arts Collaborative and the Cleveland Museum of Art, and helped with Shaker Youth Soccer Association when her kids were younger. Having lived all over the world as a child due to her parents’ work, she is drawn to more far-flung initiatives as well, such as MedWish International, which repurposes discarded medical equipment for use in developing countries, and the Haiti Timber Reintroduction Program, which works to help reforest Haiti. “One of my mottoes is ‘You didn’t get here alone.’ Wherever you are in the world, somebody helped you and you owe it to the universe to help somebody else and help others, so I try to use the resources that I have in order to help better the lives of other people,” she said. — Beth Thomas Hertz

BDO Akron 301 Springside Drive Akron, OH 44333 / 330-668-9696

PA G E 2 0

O C T O B E R 2 3 - 2 9 , 2 017 |




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Congrats on being named one of the “Most Influential Women in Finance” – we’re so proud of you! From the entire JumpStart Team

Director of accounting and financial reporting, MetroHealth


Katherine Blessinger couldn't do blood and needles, but she can do numbers. As MetroHealth's director of accounting and financial reporting, Blessinger has found a way to help advance the mission of a health care organization. Maybe she can't be a nurse, but she can help a nurse manager understand the business side and make the numbers work. "I'm a doer. I'm a helper," Blessinger said. "I like to solve problems. I like to watch people smile and feel that we've done a good job." She's been with MetroHealth for about six-and-a-half years, during which the system has gone through massive changes, growing rapidly, adding locations and embarking on a nearly $1 billion campus transformation, including a new 270room hospital slated to replace its aging patient towers. She said as MetroHealth has grown, she has worked to make sure the financials are as transparent as possible. “What do we need to be able to show the executive team to help them understand what is really going on within the pieces and parts of our organization?” Blessinger said. Keeping up with the changes has been her biggest challenge, she said. And according to the nomination, managing those changes is what’s made her stand out. "She has become kind of the go-to person for a lot of things for a lot of people, which is awesome for

FIVE THINGS Hobby: Crossfit For pleasure she: Travels Favorite places she’s traveled: Northern California and Kauai Favorite movie: “The Italian Job” If not finance, her career would be in: Ocean conservation

me because she works for me," said Geoff Himes, MetroHealth's vice president of finance. "Obviously people have questions, and she's always the one that's stepping up with an answer. She's the one that digs into things and finds out the answer for people." And, he notes, her integrity gives people full confidence that when she says something is right, it is. "Besides her normal responsibilities, she seems like she's really had a heart to help women in the workplace advance themselves professionally," Himes said. Blessinger said the most satisfying part of her time at MetroHealth has been finding a better way to do something. When someone is overwhelmed, she helps them step back and see the big picture. “What makes me happy is when I see a smile at the end of it all and you don't feel frustrated,” she said. “Maybe we couldn't solve it completely, maybe it’s not 100% what you wanted, but the frustration you’re feeling is gone. I’m happy.” — Lydia Coutré

Courtney Sargent Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cleveland



8:30 AM to 1 PM

EVENT QUESTIONS: Megan Lemke at 216-771-5182 or


Katherine Blessinger



Courtney Sargent is a team player. That’s a trait she has carried through life, whether it was as a student athlete at Mentor High School or as a leader on a project at PwC. Sargent works with real estate and real estate-related companies — both public and private — as well as real estate funds, helping them with annual or quarterly reports. She said she likes that her job changes by the project and that there’s a lot of “interaction and research” involved. “I think the one misconception about auditing and accounting is that it’s all number-crunching. But it’s really a lot of just interacting with clients and helping them solve problems,” Sargent said. Sargent likes to start new projects with a meeting across the firm’s lines of service to plan, share perspectives and get new team members up-to-date. It gives staff, regardless of experience level, the chance to give their point of view. “So it’s not just a what-I-say-goes, but really a collaborative discussion to say, ‘OK, what’s your perspective, what’s my perspective and where is the best path forward?” she said. Sargent started in PwC’s Cleveland office as an intern in the real estate group about 16 years ago. She then spent time in the professional service firm’s Orange County, Los Angeles and New York offices, mostly in the real estate space, before taking on the role of chief of staff for then-vice chairman- markets, strategy and stakeholders leader Tim Ryan. That took her away from her audit work and gave her the chance to experience more of the business, which Sargent calls an “incredible experience.” Sar-

FIVE THINGS Cleveland sports: When Sargent has visitors in town, she likes to take them to an Indians game. Role models: Her parents, who she said are some of the most “selfless” people she knows. Secret skill: She was a French minor in college, which has helped when she’s overseas for work. Career aspirations: Sargent and her brothers were Indiana Jones fans growing up, so she wanted to be an archaeologist. Another option? Dancer. World traveler: Sargent loves to travel, and her trips have given her some unique experiences, like riding an ostrich.

gent said one trait that has helped her over the years is the ability to make herself “comfortable with being uncomfortable.” That applies whether she’s talking about helping a client through a challenging situation, like facing activist investors, or about being willing to volunteer for something out of her comfort zone, like with the chief of staff role. About a year ago, Sargent came back to the Cleveland office as a partner, serving the same real estate clients she worked with as an intern. Mark Ross, PwC managing partner in Cleveland, said Sargent’s experience in the firm means she’s seen a lot of problems and a lot of different ways to solve them. She’s passionate and possesses an “intellectual curiosity,” he said. “We’re extremely fortunate to have her back here,” Ross said. — Rachel Abbey McCafferty

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PA G E 21

Joanne Montagner-Hull President and owner, Your Bean Counters In preparation for an accounting presentation, Joanne Montagner-Hull put on a blue pinstripe suit and silk blouse — and then on top of it, a janitor’s outfit. Pushing in a cleaning cart she’d borrowed, the former theater major was so convincing someone called hotel security thinking a member of the cleaning staff was trying to give a presentation on nonprofit finances. To some extent, Montagner-Hull says she is a “cleaning lady.” She often works with folks in times of change to clean up their finances to stay or get back on track. Throughout her presentation to about 100 nonprofits from around the country, she removed pieces of her costume until she was standing again in her blue pinstripe suit. “I’m going to suggest that the following is the recipe for you to not

FIVE THINGS Hobbies: Sailing, rowing and spending time with her friends and son, as well as her two cats and two dogs Favorite spot in Northeast Ohio: Various bodies of water as a “way to be here and yet you’re escaping.” Advice for young women: They should understand enough about finance, accounting and economics to understand that they can drive it; that it should not drive them. Desert island read: “The Alchemist” Secret skills: Carpentry

need me as your cleaning lady,” she said, and proceeded to lay out tips for keeping the nonprofits’ finances in

tip-top shape. Your Bean Counters is an independent firm offering financial manage-

ment, advisory and consulting services. Much of Montagner-Hull’s work is in the nonprofit world. Janus Small, president of nonprofit consulting firm Janus Small Associates, shares many clients with Montagner-Hull and uses her accounting services for the firm. Their work is complementary, but it doesn’t overlap. “To be a solid organization, to have funders respect you and take you seriously, to really be able to build the organizations that you work with and serve the community, you have to have a solid financial base and that doesn’t happen by accident,” Small said. “So she’s teaching people who don’t really want to pay attention to finances.” Folks tend to get into small business or nonprofit work for love of the work, but they tend not to have financial management skills, Montagner-Hull said. They may love the line

of work, but they often don’t know how to read the scoreboard, “much less coach the game based on what the scoreboard says,” she said. “Would you ever dream of going to an Indians game and between the food and the parking and the tickets and everything you’ve gotta do, pay a couple hundred bucks and have no idea what the scoreboard says to you?” she said. “That’s what a lot of small business and not-for-profit people do.” Montagner-Hull teaches her clients, keeps them on the right track and treats all them as if they were her own business, Small said. “I know so many nonprofit organizations, and whenever I find a well-run organization and ask who the accountant is, it always goes back to Your Bean Counters,” Small said. — Lydia Coutré

join the firm’s burgeoning business development team where she was soon named director. The move, Sullivan admitted, was a challenging one. “You are going from working with your clients — providing audit and advisory services and discussing their business challenges with them — to all of the sudden sitting across from somebody who is not your client. They don’t know you. You have no track record and you have to explain to them what you can do for them.” Fortunately, she added, her direct exposure to client CFOs made it easy for her to relate to prospective new ones. In 2015, Sullivan got the chance to “change careers” again when she was named chief operating officer, a position she still holds today. COO is the “perfect” culmination of

her earlier experience, she said, adding oversight of the internal financial and operational aspects of the Akron accounting company to external management of client services and new business development. Bober Markey Fedorovich partner Mark Bober said Sullivan’s long and diverse tenure has garnered the respect and confidence of team members. “She is not an outsider coming in and pretending to know what it’s like to serve clients,” he said. “More importantly to our clients, she knows what public accounting is all about. … That is definitely different from what you see most of the time where the COO has never really done the kind of work that we do here.” — Judy Stringer

“Getting seven lawyers to agree on everything is not easy,” MacDougall said. Her work on the project led to a national award for economic impact as she received one of four Impact awards in 2011 from CREW, the commercial real estate women trade group. But much of her satisfaction stems from the influence such projects have on the city. “I love real estate,” she said. “You see something tangible go up. You get a sense of gratification from helping these deals come together. I always enjoy it when a team works collaboratively so the developer wins, the lender wins, employers win and the city wins.” John “Jack” Waldeck Jr. the Walter | Haverfield partner who chairs its real estate group, said MacDougal has significantly assisted the firm because she brought to it two years ago a “set of talents and skills our firm did

not have, with experience in bonds and public indebtedness. She knows the fine details of tax increment financing, and she’s wonderful at it.” Waldeck said one example of how MacDougall helped the firm move into new areas is at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Village in Canton, where the firm represents Industrial Realty Group. The state created special tourism incentives to help fund the project’s creation, which MacDougall is playing a crucial role in bringing to fruition. MacDougall, who decided she wanted to be a lawyer in ninth grade, got a thorough grounding in real estate while pursuing her undergraduate degree at Case Western Reserve University as she also worked for a title company. That gave her a foundation she expanded into finance and graduating from CWRU’s law school. — Stan Bullard

Karyn M. Sullivan Chief operating officer, Bober Markey Fedorovich Ask Karyn Sullivan what she would be doing had she not landed firmly in the financial realm and expect a long pause. Finally, “I like to cook,” she muses. “I guess I would be a chef or I’d like to own a restaurant.” Sullivan is not trying to be coy. The thing is she has loved numbers since her first accounting class in high school. Then there’s her dynamic 25-year career with Bober Markey Fedorovich, in which the Ohio University alumnae and CPA has gotten the chance to explore and excel in a variety of diverse roles. “Because I have had so many different positions within the finance and accounting world, I feel like I have had the opportunity to have different careers.” Sullivan joined Bober Markey Fe-

FIVE THINGS 5 a.m. wake-up call: She recently joined BMF teammates in manning an Akron Marathon water station. Last getaway: Playa del Carmen, Mexico, with her daughter Where she’s always wanted to travel: Greece Words to live by: “If it doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not.” In the car, she listens to: ‘70s music

dorovich in 1992 as senior accountant on the audit side, working her way up to an audit senior manager

after a couple of years. Around 1998, however, she left the client-facing side of the business to

Irene M. MacDougall Partner, Walter | Haverfield As a partner at Walter | Haverfield, Irene M. MacDougall works as legal counsel for real estate developers as they put together financing for projects that are helping to transform the region. Such a role evolved for her during three decades as her legal practice expanded from doing traditional bank and lender representation to working on economic development transactions from the lender’s side, representing underwriters, bond purchasers and as bond counsel. She continues to represent lenders but has put the skills from the bank’s side to work for realty developers clients who need public finance to make projects a go. For example, while at prior firm Tucker & Ellis she worked as developer’s counsel on the public finance side of the $275 million first phase of Flats East Bank which added the

FIVE THINGS The personal side: She has four grown children (including triplets) with husband Michael J. Esson. Advice to young attorneys: Follow your gut. Civic activities: President of CREW Cleveland in 2015. She just went off the board, but plans to attend national conventions. What superhero are you most like? Edna from “The Incredibles” Favorite vacation spot: The beach at Tybee Island

Aloft Hotel and EY office building to the Cuyahoga River’s east bank. With 33 sources of funds coming into play, she said, it took coordinating cove-

nants for the loans, dividing up collateral in the project for different lenders and addressing concerns of public entities on the project.



Chief Investment Officer Ancora

John Micklitsch, CFA, CAIA, has spent the last 11 years with Ancora and currently serves as the firm’s chief investment officer. John manages global, multi-asset class separate accounts for the firm’s high-net worth and institutional clients. He began his money management career in 1996 at Robert E. Torray & Co. Inc., where he was an analyst and head trader on the firm’s $5 billion large-cap value strategy. In 2003, he joined Fifth Third Asset Management, where he researched and managed small- and micro-cap investments for the firm’s mutual funds and individual accounts. John also has been lead portfolio manager for the small-cap value strategy at Allegiant Asset Management, the institutional money management division of National City Corp. (which is now PNC). During his tenure, he was responsible for more than $1 billion in assets, including the strategy’s publicly traded mutual fund and separate accounts. He holds the chartered financial analyst (CFA) and chartered alternative investment analyst (CAIA) designations. He also serves on the board of Biltmore Trust and Biltmore Insurance Co., sits on the Investment Committee of the United Way of Greater Cleveland, and is a member of Bluecoats Inc. John earned a bachelor of arts degree from Duke University and an MBA from Johns Hopkins University’s Carey School of Business.

SPONSORED CONTENT PATRICIA A. PACENTA Partner Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC

As a trusts and estates lawyer, Patricia assists individuals, families, business owners and charitable organizations with their estate planning, charitable gift planning and estate administration needs. She develops plans that are customized for her clients’ particular objectives and are flexible enough to accommodate the unexpected. She has extensive experience developing sophisticated plans for high-net worth clients with specific federal or estate tax issues, although she is skilled in working with clients who have different socioeconomic backgrounds. She helps women, both married and single, with their planning needs. Patricia works with closely held business owners to solve the challenges of integrating the needs of their business with their overall estate planning goals. She also represents charitable organizations in developing planned giving programs. Patricia’s civic and professional associations include serving as a fellow of the American College of Trust & Estate Counsel, member and past president of Akron Tax and Estate Planning Council and member of Estate Planning Professional Council, Center for Gift and Estate Planning at University of Akron Foundation. Patricia has been listed in Best Lawyers in America between 1989-2018 and was recognized in 2016 by Best Lawyers “Women in Law” Business Edition for Trusts & Estates Law. She received her bachelor’s degree from Marquette University, her J.D. from Marquette Law School and her master’s degree from Ohio State University.

KAYE RIDOLFI Senior Vice President of Advancement Cleveland Foundation

Strategies to guide you on building, transitioning your investment portfolio


ou’ve saved and worked hard to grow your wealth position. So how do you take advantage of the opportunities to generate cash flow, realize tax savings, preserve and pass on your legacy, and do good in the process? There are a variety of financial, philanthropic and tax-beneficial options that can help you achieve your goals. Crain Content Studio — Cleveland turns to three wealth management experts who offer their perspective on how to make the most of your wealth today and in the future.

As senior vice president of advancement, Kaye Ridolfi is responsible for the foundation’s fundraising activities and leads the 16-member Advancement staff. This team works in charitable gift planning, donor relations and donor communications to bring new donors into the foundation, and then stewards donors on an ongoing basis to achieve their philanthropic goals. Kaye is a member of the Cleveland Foundation’s Executive Committee and oversees the Advancement Committee of the foundation’s board of directors. Prior to joining the Cleveland Foundation in 2011, Kaye spent two decades in the field. Her previous positions include five years at Case Western Reserve University, where she served as associate vice president of institutional development and director of its $1 billion capital campaign. She joined CWRU after six years at The Ohio State University, where she served as director of the campaign to renovate the main library and then as assistant vice president for major gifts. Previous positions were with Ohio Wesleyan University, initially as director of its annual fund and ultimately as director of alumni development, and the American Lung Association of Ohio, as the organization’s first director of planned giving and later as vice president. Kaye has served on the boards of several area organizations, including the City Club of Cleveland, the Cleveland Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa and on the Union Club of Cleveland’s Membership Committee and Engaging Women Committee. She is a graduate of the FBI’s Citizens Academy and is a member of the Citizens Academy Foundation. Currently, Kaye is a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2018. She is a frequent speaker on capital campaigns, board development and nonprofit leadership. Kaye graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and earned a master’s degree in public policy and management from Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Policy.


Q&A What does wealth management involve? What concerns are addressed when one implements a wealth management plan? PATRICIA A. PACENTA: Wealth management refers to the process of building, managing and transitioning one’s wealth. In this context, “wealth” means the property, in whichever form, one has acquired over time that is not being spent on immediate needs. As one’s wealth grows, so does the number and complexity of the decisions required to preserve that wealth, as well as the time and knowledge required to attend to them. There comes a point when dealing with one’s financial matters requires coordination and skill that can best be provided by skilled professionals. The concerns addressed in a wealth management plan will always vary from person to person. Most wealth management engagements include the following areas of attention: n Planning to ensure cash flow for current and future spending needs and goals; n Developing, implementing and monitoring an investment policy suited to one’s spending and saving goals; n Ensuring that asset protection steps are taken to cover all identifiable risks; n Estate planning; and n Philanthropy. JOHN MICKLITSCH: Historically, wealth management primarily referred to personal investment management services. Today, it really refers to a more holistic approach that still includes investment management, but increasingly covers everything else that goes along with managing household wealth, including retirement and education planning, tax and estate coordination, workplace benefits review, insurance assessments and other general lifetime planning needs.

What is the importance of having an overall wealth plan to go along with your investments? JOHN MICKLITSCH: A good analogy is if you have ever tried to put together a gas grill without a set of good instructions. The outcome is usually sub-optimal and more than a little frustrating. In the case of wealth management, an overall wealth plan is a comprehensive, buttoned-up blueprint for your financial life, which is a lot more important than putting together a gas grill. In addition, an overall wealth plan looks at




An overall wealth plan looks at your risk and return requirements and makes sure that they are properly aligned with your investment asset allocation decisions." — JOHN MICKLITSCH, Chief Investment Officer, Ancora

your risk and return requirements and makes sure that they are properly aligned with your investment asset allocation decisions. PATRICIA A. PACENTA: An overall wealth plan is critical to a successful investment program. The overall wealth plan sets the risk tolerance standards, the appropriate asset class allocation, and the desired cash flow draw on the investment assets and earnings. These factors, in turn, drive individual investment decisions.

What role can philanthropy play in a comprehensive wealth management plan? KAYE RIDOLFI: As individuals consider their long-term wealth management goals, philanthropy can play an important role in defining a family’s legacy and deepening community connections. Charitable giving can also carry with it income tax and estate tax or gift tax benefits. Since 1914, the Cleveland Foundation has supported individuals and families with their philanthropy in conjunction with thoughtful wealth management strategies. Our advancement team, composed of attorneys, accountants, development professionals and community experts, is experienced at advising everyone from individuals to multigenerational families. We often hear our donors talk about how they began their fund with one amount, then gave away sizable grants, yet still have as much or more in their fund than when they started it. So, how does that happen? Here is one example: Assuming an investment return of 7% and a payout rate of 5% over 50 years, a $100,000 bequest could grow to $450,000 while distributing $600,000 to charities along the way. Although results cannot be guaranteed, gifts are invested as part of a large pool of assets, with the potential to generate even more money for an individual to give away. It is the gifts made today that will help make our community stronger in perpetuity. JOHN MICKLITSCH: For those in the position, philanthropy can be an important piece of the planning discussion, especially in terms of tax and estate issues. Furthermore, philanthropy done correctly can

bring great personal satisfaction during one’s lifetime. The decision to pursue charitable strategies in one’s lifetime is a highly personal decision but is without a doubt part of the planning process. PATRICIA A. PACENTA: High-net worth individuals who have already provided comfortably for their family members want to make some lasting impact on a community that has played a part in the growth of their wealth. Many high-net worth individuals also wish to foster a spirit of philanthropy in their progeny. There are a variety of vehicles that can be used in charitable giving that also entitle the donor to a charitable tax deduction. Some vehicles, such as charitable remainder or lead trusts, even permit the donor or the donor’s family members to retain income or other enjoyment of the donated assets.

Because charitable gifts can give rise to significant tax deductions, the tax rules that govern charitable donations are as complex as any in the tax code, and there are many traps for the unwary. An experienced professional can assist in illustrating the plan and assessing the merits of the plan’s results. They can propose charitable donation strategies the client may not have considered that are consistent with the client’s philanthropic goals and client’s tax situation.

What are some popular charitable vehicles, and how do they work? KAYE RIDOLFI: Donor advised funds are one of our most popular instruments because they help a donor organize all of his or her charitablegiving activities through one expertly

October 23, 2017 S2

managed, cost-effective vehicle. There’s an immediate tax deduction with all contributions, and donors can take their time to decide which organizations and causes they would like to support. Conversely, some donors prefer to establish a designated or named fund and carry out their wishes in perpetuity through fixed payments to one or more charitable organizations or a broader field of interest. As an alternative to a private foundation, a supporting organization is a separate nonprofit entity operating in conjunction with the Cleveland Foundation. It has its own board and determines its own investment strategy and grant priorities. This structure provides an opportunity to involve multiple generations of family and friends in charitable giving. Finally, a broad array of charitable giving options exists for individuals who prefer to make an impact posthumously. Bequests can be one of the most straightforward ways to provide for the community in the future. From a wealth management perspective, tools such as charitable annuities and trusts can also carry tax advantages — especially when CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

Ancora Celebrates

Women in Finance including our own

Sonia Mintun, CFA

Ancora Managing Director & Portfolio Manager Sonia joined Ancora in 2008 and manages individual and institutional accounts including the firm’s High Dividend Strategy.

Family Wealth | Asset Management | Retirement Plans WWW.ANCORA.NET

S3 October 23, 2017




they are established before the sale of a business or the transition of an estate. Charitable annuities and trusts are also designed to generate income during your lifetime or a fixed period. PATRICIA A. PACENTA: The most popular charitable giving vehicle today is available to donors 70½ years old to transfer directly to a public charity up to $100,000 annually from an IRA. The transfer counts for the donor’s minimum distribution but does not increase the donor’s gross income. It is also excluded from the donor’s Ohio income tax base. Charities have publicized this technique widely, and eligible donors are using it.

Am I able to include socially responsible investing in my charitable plan, and if so, how? KAYE RIDOLFI: Yes. Upon conveying a gift, Cleveland Foundation donors can choose among more than 20 competitive investment options geared for a variety of time horizons and return targets. Our Socially Responsible Investment Pool is a diversified, socially responsible investment portfolio positioned for


— KAYE RIDOLFI, Senior Vice President of Advancement, Cleveland Foundation

To that extent, what does the stock market outlook look like? JOHN MICKLITSCH: That is always a tricky question. Tell us the time horizon you are talking about, and we can provide a better answer. The short-term is usually anybody’s guess, but over the intermediate and longer-term, markets tend to rise due to the overall growth

in the economy and the increased corporate earnings that go along with it. Currently, we are in the unique situation where interest rates are very low, which has pushed more people into equities to replace income and generate required levels of returns. This has pushed equity valuations higher as many are aware. Economic activity in the U.S. has

been steadily improving. There are signs of the recovery expanding to other economies around the world, both of which are encouraging. The real question is the pace of interest rate normalization and the impact that has on both the economy and equity prices. Our opinion is that while the Federal Reserve has initiated the normalization process on rates, it will take longer than many think, which results in a continued favorable backdrop for equities, particularly if the economy continues its current trajectory. But again, anything is possible in the short term. The important thing is to match your equity exposure to your personal time horizon. That is key.

Why have international stocks started to outperform, and what does that mean for investors? JOHN MICKLITSCH: International stocks have started to outperform for a couple of reasons in our opinion. First, after underperforming significantly since the financial crisis, international stocks have lower valuations generally speaking. Second, the economic recovery that has been well established in the U.S. is just starting to pick up steam overseas, which creates a catalyst. Third, the U.S. dollar has fallen in 2017, which provides a currency translation tailwind for U.S.-based investors participating in foreign markets. The world’s equity market cap is split roughly 50% in the U.S. and 50% outside the U.S., so there is a big motivation from an opportunity standpoint for investors to think globally in terms of their asset allocation these days.


When should business owners begin thinking

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Peace of mind is knowing that what you’ve worked so hard for is protected. It’s the assurance that you are not the only one looking out for your family, your business and all that matters to you. It matters to us too.

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about an exit strategy, and what are some of the key considerations in terms of executing a welldeveloped exit plan?

As individuals consider their long-term wealth management goals, philanthropy can play an important role in defining a family’s legacy and deepening community connections."

capital appreciation. The pool mixes active and passive management and invests in funds that hold both stocks and bonds across industry sectors that have been screened for socially responsible criteria such as corporate commitment to environmental sustainability, social justice and diversity. Our SRI pool is currently delivering a 16% five-year rate of return, which means donors can earn more to give more.


PATRICIA A. PACENTA: The process of transferring ownership to younger generation family members or a management team should start years before the planned exit date. Key employees may need to be incentivized to remain with the business until the ownership succession occurs. Wealth management professionals can help design an effective exit strategy. Few closely held businesses survive through a second generation, and even fewer through a third. If more than one family member will be a successor owner, plans need to be made in advance through buy-sell agreements, multiple classes of stock or through other arrangements. This allows the successor owners to separate if they cannot work productively together. If the business is to pass to one or more but not to all the children, the owner must consider how best to treat all of them fairly in an overall family plan. The owner should review his or her cash flow needs for retirement and make sure his business can support that cash flow while also compensating new owners or managers. A deferred compensation plan or a stock buyout plan may address this issue. JOHN MICKLITSCH: It’s never too early to plan or at least discuss your potential exit strategy from a business interest with your financial adviser. A comprehensive wealth plan will help you understand your long-term needs and potentially make the exit decision and negotiation easier because you are armed with what your figure needs to be.

What charitable opportunities exist as part of a liquidity event such as a business sale, IPO or acquisition? JOHN MICKLITSCH: A charitable remainder unit trust comes in many variations and is an interesting

A gift or inheritance for a young family member made in trust is an excellent way to provide wealth management." — PATRICIA A. PACENTA, Partner, Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC

10/13/2017 7:34:27 AM



can work with professional advisers before the sale transaction to identify tax-saving strategies that will also create a pot of dollars individuals can use for philanthropy. One such strategy might be donating unique assets, such as closely held business units or publicly traded stock. Donor advised funds have become popular because they provide donors an immediate and full income tax deduction at the outset. When business owners are busy with the many details of organizing a sale, setting up a donor advised fund can be the simplest part of the transaction. Later on, they can make ongoing charitable grant recommendations benefiting their favorite nonprofit organizations. Charitable giving is much more than just a tax strategy. Many former business owners jump into philanthropy like they did when running a company: full go. Philanthropy becomes their “encore career” as they work on a social mission and involve others as advisers. Many of our donors say that participating in philanthropy has been one of their greatest joys in life. planning tool for appreciated securities before a liquidity event. The use of a CRUT should be closely coordinated with one’s tax and legal advisers, as there are many rules that need to be followed. Conceptually, however, the CRUT allows the donor to receive some current tax benefit and a lifetime income stream from the assets while leaving the remainder for a designated charity(s) following death. This can be a “have your cake and eat it too” solution in certain circumstances, in which tax savings, lifetime income and charitable support all come together while the donor is alive to see it. KAYE RIDOLFI: An IPO assessment or business exit strategy can pay dividends if individuals decide to add a charitable component to the plan. When working with an accountant, attorney or wealth management professional, individuals may want to consider adding a philanthropic specialist. The Cleveland Foundation

What tax considerations play into wealth management? JOHN MICKLITSCH: Municipal bonds verses taxable bonds, qualified retirement options, tax-efficient investment management and charitable giving are all tax-related considerations that play into wealth management. A wealth manager, such as Ancora, will coordinate many of the decisions around these important issues with each client’s existing tax and estate professionals. It’s really about having a coordinated plan with all of your advisers working together to get the job done. PATRICIA A. PACENTA: The tax code may be reformed, but it will not disappear. Planning to minimize annual income taxes is a key component of wealth management. It requires input from the client’s tax preparer, investment manager and other members of

the wealth management team. Client communication is critical. Impending transactions — as for example, the sale of an appreciated capital asset, an upcoming income recognition event, or the realization of investment gains or losses — can have significant tax impacts. Even if estate tax planning is no longer relevant for many well-todo individuals because of large increases in the federal estate, gift and generation-skipping tax exemptions, planning to minimize income taxes at death remains important. Death gives rise to a cost basis step up in the value of the deceased owner’s appreciated capital assets. Planning to achieve that step up and avoid a step down at death to the cost basis of depreciated assets has become an increasingly important tax consideration in the estate planning process.

What advice do you have for involving family in charitable planning, and what steps can be taken to ensure that the next generation will take care to manage wisely the wealth that they earn or inherit? PATRICIA A. PACENTA: A gift or inheritance for a young family


member made in trust is an excellent way to provide wealth management. A trust can last until the beneficiary reaches an age specified in the trust, or it can last the beneficiary’s lifetime. It can keep the trust assets away from the beneficiary’s creditors. It can provide a vehicle for the beneficiary to learn wealth management skills with the guidance of the trustee. A trust for a young person can be the beneficiary of an IRA. The beneficiary can receive the minimum distributions from a conduit trust while the rest of the IRA remains invested. An Ohio Legacy Trust is an asset protection trust that can protect one’s own wealth. The transferor can enjoy wealth transferred to this trust while being protected from future creditors. Young adults who have acquired wealth may be willing to transfer it to a legacy trust for investment management and asset protection until they mature and their lives are settled. KAYE RIDOLFI: If donors are interested in involving children or grandchildren in giving, then the donor advised fund and supporting organization are extremely effective tools. These vehicles can be established with various liquid and non-liquid assets — including appreciated securities and even

October 23, 2017 S4

closely held stock. As desired, family trustees and other advisers can join in making decisions, and donors may also appoint successor advisers. This is an opportunity to demonstrate the importance of charitable giving and another way to pass down family values. Foundation staff will assist generations of trustees and advisers in carrying out grantmaking that matches the donor’s original intent. Every family that partners with the Cleveland Foundation also receives a designated donor relations adviser who can facilitate conversations and strategic planning sessions for families around their charitable mission, vision, values and goals. Determining a philanthropic mission statement is an important activity for donor families of all configurations. An optimal family mission statement is designed to evolve as time passes, community needs shift and successor advisers become involved in giving. A family mission statement takes into account the philanthropic passions of each member and converts them into purposeful impact. Based on personal experiences and life’s journey, it’s usually easy to determine the charitable causes that mean the most. The foundation’s staff can assist families with vetting funding proposals, arranging nonprofit site visits and bringing new ideas to life.


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Great Lakes Biomimicry hands reins over to “I’m a starter; I’m not a runner. I work on a five-year plan, and it was time to re-evaluate things.”

By DAN SHINGLER @DanShingler

In nature, the lead goose in a flying-V formation doesn’t stay there for the entire migration. After some time in the lead position — which requires the most energy in flight — other geese fly up to take their turn at the lead. It would be kind of silly if Great Lakes Biomimicry — an organization that is all about copying nature’s solutions to conquer human challenges — didn’t copy that strategy. So that’s what it’s doing. Local executive and entrepreneur Tom Tyrrell, who founded Great Lakes Biomimicry (GLBio, for short) in 2010, has retired as CEO of the organization, as has vice president and director Don Knechtges, the group announced on Thursday, Oct. 12. But three existing co-directors — Trisha Brown, Christine Hockman and Carol Thaler — are stepping up to take over management of the organization, where they’ve each been hired, coached and prepared by Tyrrell and Knechtges over the past seven years, Hockman said. She’s sad to see Tyrrell go, though she said he’ll remain as chairman of the GLBio board, and “just a phone call away,” should she or her fellow directors want to tap him for advice or contacts. “Of course; Tom is awesome!” Hockman said, when asked if she’s sad to see the CEO step down. “He’s done so much, and it’s great working

— Tom Tyrrell, founder of Great Lakes Biomimicry who recently retired

Tom Tyrrell, seen in this 2010 photo, has retired as CEO of Great Lakes Biomimicry after founding the regional nonprofit that supports and fosters the field, which looks to copy nature’s solutions to conquer human challenges. (Crain’s file photo)

with him. But I’m also happy for him because he’ll get some well-deserved free time.” She said that Knechtges, who also has been integral to the organization's success, will remain involved. Tyrrell, at 72, looks as if he could not only continue to run GLBio, but possibly start something else just as big. He said it’s just time to step aside

and let others take over. “I’m a starter; I’m not a runner,” Tyrrell said. “I work on a five-year plan, and it was time to re-evaluate things.” Not that he’s worried. Tyrrell said the organization is in good hands and in good shape, as long as it can continue to garner and keep corporate support the way it has done.

Northeast Ohio companies such as GOJO Industries, Sherwin-Williams, Parker Hannifin and Nottingham Spirk, among others, have all not only taken note of the work GLBio has done, but also taken part in supporting the organization and incorporating its principals into their own work. Area companies have stepped up

to sponsor five fellows at the University of Akron so far, helping the school to become the first in the world to offer a doctorate in biomimicry. That program has helped spur biomimicry research among students and professors at UA, Baldwin Wallace University and Lorain County Community College, where it established the Great Lakes Biomimicry Technology Center in LCCC’s Desich SMART Commercialization Center. GLBio also has created an Innovation Council, where area corporations that have embraced biomimicry meet quarterly to discuss the discipline and how they use it in their research and development. Plus, the organization has begun offering consulting through its Innovation Services initiative, Hockman said. The program helps clients grasp how they can use biomimicry in their general research and development efforts or tackle specific engineering challenges. GLBio even has been doing outreach at schools with students in grades K-12 to help get kids thinking

Hilscher-Clarke plugs into big growth in Akron By DAN SHINGLER @DanShingler

Hilscher-Clarke sees enough potential in the commercial construction market in and around Akron that the Canton-based electrical contractor is rapidly expanding in the city. Company president Scott Goodspeed said his firm has found enough business to warrant hiring 50 people at its new Akron office since it opened in May, and it’s looking to hire more going forward. “We see opportunity up there to do what we do. There’s a lot of industry up there and a lot of commercial activity,” Goodspeed said, adding that so far the Akron office has “exceeded our expectations” for growth. The Akron office, on Munroe Falls Road on the city’s east side, now houses a significant portion of the 100-year-old company’s total workforce of nearly 400 people, Goodspeed said. The company announced Oct. 9 that CEO Ron Becker would retire, though he remains as senior electrical engineer and a board member. That left Goodspeed and John Fether to run the company as president and vice president of operations, respectively. Meanwhile, Hilscher-Clarke named Chuck Dulcie as branch manager of the Akron office. Goodspeed and Fether said growing in Akron is among their top priorities because they see the market as

Hilscher Clarke, the Canton-based electrical contractor that specializes in larger commercial projects, is finding a lot of work in Akron. (Contributed photo)



an important source of current business and, importantly, of future work. They said they think the town’s commercial construction industry will be active in the foreseeable future. Goodspeed said his firm is often involved in large, complicated projects, such as complex manufacturing facilities or hospitals, which not only

need traditional electrical contracting work but require specialized work for things like industrial controls or high-tech medical equipment. Hilscher-Clarke often works with some of the region’s largest general contractors, such as Welty Building Co. Recently, it did significant work for Welty on the Pro Football Hall of Fame project in Canton. The firm has also worked on the Marathon refinery in Canton, on major oil and gas pipeline compressor stations, at TimkenSteel’s operations in Canton, the city of Kent’s police headquarters, and on major hospital projects in and around Akron, Fether and Goodspeed said. It’s not done yet, though. “I think there’s room for more

growth,” Goodspeed said. Hilscher-Clarke especially hopes it can find more work on industrial, health care or high-tech projects, but it works on all sorts of other commercial projects as well, Goodspeed said. As for whether it will find the work it needs in Akron, time will tell — but developers in the city said they’re busy and plan to be active in the years ahead. Local developer Tony Troppe said he is continuing to rehabilitate properties at and near the corner of Main and Market streets downtown — including converting the United Building there to a 65-room hotel — to be called The United 1: A Blu-tique Hotel. Troppe said he’s currently doing demolition work in the United building and construction will begin early next year. He said he expects to open the hotel in the fall of 2018. Perhaps more importantly for Hilscher-Clarke, Troppe said he thinks the foundation is in place for a lot more development in and around Akron, especially downtown. More and more contractors, as well as developers and investors, are taking an interest in Akron — and that that’s good for everyone, he said, adding that the movement of firms like Hilscher-Clarke are a leading indicator that shows Akron’s prospects are good. “What you’re seeing with the migration of some of these larger contractors is that the trades usually see the rays of light before prosperity ful-

ly sets in,” Troppe said. “They see that there’s a variety of important work planned to try to meet the mayor’s vision of having 250,0000 people living in the city by 2050. … That’s about 1,600 people moving into the city to meet that goal.” The city is working aggressively with developers to increase its housing stock, and developers are responding — including Troppe, who said he’s converting part of the Everett Building from offices to 20 residential apartment units. Troppe said he thinks many more projects are on the horizon and that there will be plenty of commercial construction ahead as a result. “I think there are a number of important projects we’ll be looking at where we’ll (the city will) get another 300 units in the next 24 months,” Troppe said. “The city is providing a number of economic incentives, including the tax abatements,” That’s music to the ears of Goodspeed and Fether, who said HilscherClarke likely will have to expand even more in Akron. So far, they said, they’ve had little trouble finding good, qualified workers in the Rubber City. HilscherClarke is a union shop, so it works with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. In Akron, the union’s been great about supplying the company’s needs, according to Fether. “That union hall has as many good electricians as any I’ve seen, and they’re good, hardworking people.” Fether said.

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O C T O B E R 2 3 - 2 9 , 2 017


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about not only biomimicry, but about engineering and other STEM-related fields. Still, though, GLBio is basically a shoestring nonprofit operation, with the three co-directors as its only fulltime employees and another eight people who collaborate with them and serve as consultants, Hockman said. For it to continue, it will need to keep the corporate support it has garnered so far and get more to grow and sustain its programs, Tyrrell said – especially in terms of sponsoring more fellows and using GLBio’s consulting. “We don’t have enough of those kinds of clients yet, but we’re getting more and more of them. And that’s what’s going to grow the organization,” Tyrrell said. He’ll still be out talking up the benefits of biomimicry with the business executives he knows. That’s no small universe, considering Tyrrell has been running and investing in Northeast Ohio companies since the 1980s, has worked on high-profile projects like the development of the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail and is one

of the region’s most engaged and known executives. But other voices may mean even more in terms of serving as a reference for GLBio, and the companies that have worked with the group so far have been very pleased with the results, Nottingham Spirk co-president John Nottingham said. In fact, Nottingham gets a little excited when he talks about what he said has quickly become an important part of the region’s business and economic development arsenal. “You talk about assets in Northern Ohio — this is certainly one of them,” he said. “What they’ve done at the University of Akron with the biomimicry program, it’s the only one in the world. That’s significant. What’s also significant is the corporate Innovation Council. We have some of the largest companies in the area sponsoring fellows, and that’s a five-year commitment.” Nottingham Spirk even has its own fellow — Ariana Rupp, a Fulbright Scholar from Portugal — who spends half her time studying biomimicry at the University of Akron and the other half working with biomimicry at Nottingham Spirk.

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“So does Sherwin-Williams, so does Parker, and so does Smucker’s — more and more companies are coming in and they’re all sponsoring people,” he said. Nottingham’s endorsement might carry more weight than most, though, even in corporate R&D circles. His firm is known worldwide as a leading innovator in product design and helps to make everything from vacuum cleaners and landscaping equipment to high-tech medical devices. He encourages others to participate, not only because biomimicry works, but because it fosters further

innovation and cooperation among companies. Once folks start thinking about how to copy nature, they often think outside of their traditional boxes in other ways, too — and the companies are not competing, so cooperation is easy. “The Sherwin-Williams guy talks to the Smucker’s guy who talks to the Bendix guy who talks to the Nottingham Spirk person – and it’s all noncompetitive,” he said. What Nottingham worries most about is not that biomimicry or that GLBio’s efforts won’t work — but that the region won’t realize the jewel it

has built for itself. “Too often in Northeast Ohio we’re down on our ourselves. With this, we have some assets that no one else in the world has — nobody,” he said. “We should be on the top of Terminal Tower banging the drum and telling the world about it.” He also said that his company plans to continue to support the effort, as do the other executives he knows that are already engaged. When his current fellow completes her work in three years, Nottingham said his firm plans to sponsor another doctoral program participant.



O C T O B E R 2 3 - 2 9 , 2 017

LACROSSE US Lacrosse, Roggenburk said, was â&#x20AC;&#x153;laser-focusedâ&#x20AC;? on getting the field built and hiring a person to manage the programs at Urban Community School. And it expects the initiative to widen significantly from there. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The short-term goals are to increase awareness, get sticks in hands and get them to start playing,â&#x20AC;? he said. The Lacrosse Communities Project began in Albany, N.Y., and within a few months was expanded to Ohio City and Brooklyn, N.Y. According to the organizationâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website, the initiativeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s goal â&#x20AC;&#x153;is to make the most racially, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods in cities across the country focal points for growing lacrosse.â&#x20AC;? Former Baldwin Wallace University lacrosse player Colleen Bodkin high-fives a student during a skills demonstration at Urban Community Schoolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new lacrosse field in September. (Andrew Bevevino)

Tom Gill, the president of Urban Community School, which was founded in 1968 and is sponsored by the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland, said the program is a â&#x20AC;&#x153;total coupâ&#x20AC;? for the ecumenical school located at 4909 Lorain Ave. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have a long history of being in this neighborhood and running a high-quality program,â&#x20AC;? Gill said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;With kids being able to stay here every night until 6, that field will be used virtually all day. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s safe, we have the trust of the families, the kids can stay here and play â&#x20AC;&#x201D; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a pretty big deal for us.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also significant for Ohio City Inc., which will model its new lacrosse program after its successful Near West Recreation partnership.



OCTOBER 23, 2017


Near West â&#x20AC;&#x201D; which includes development groups from the Detroit Shoreway, Tremont West and Metro West neighborhoods â&#x20AC;&#x201D; started five years ago as a T-ball league in which 68 children participated, said Ohio City Inc. executive director Tom McNair. Today, it has more than 1,000 kids participating in a wide array of sports. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I absolutely think it has the opportunity to open doors,â&#x20AC;? McNair said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We have lots of kids who participate in sports every day. Lacrosse is not something they get exposure to. The ability to get into different high schools and colleges â&#x20AC;&#x201D; it can really help change lives.â&#x20AC;? One nearby university, Cleveland State, added a menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lacrosse pro-



gram that completed its first season last spring. Dylan Sheridan, the Vikingsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; head coach, and some of his players have been teaching a lacrosse class at Urban Communityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new field for 90 minutes every Thursday. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a chance for the program to promote awareness for the sport in the community, Sheridan said, but also a beneficial thing for the Vikingsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; student-athletes. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Someday hopefully theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have great jobs and a family of their own,â&#x20AC;? Sheridan said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And to use that as a platform, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time well-spent.â&#x20AC;? Gill, the Urban Community School president, â&#x20AC;&#x153;canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t say enoughâ&#x20AC;? good things about Sheridan and the Vikings. The school is now involved in three

Phone: (216) 771-5276 Contact: Lynn Calcaterra E-mail:

projects centered around sports â&#x20AC;&#x201D; lacrosse, the Foundry (a community rowing and sailing training center in the Flats) and Urban Squash Cleveland (a youth development center that is debuting later this month at Urban Community). â&#x20AC;&#x153;What weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re looking at as a school is how do we add (programs) and not take operating dollars away,â&#x20AC;? Gill said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The youth partnerships absolutely hit the nail on the head. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re free to our kids. Theyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re right here. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pretty neat.â&#x20AC;?

Casting a wide net The next step for the Ohio City Inc. lacrosse program is hiring a manager, a process McNair hopes to have com-

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pleted by November. With the help of marketing by US Lacrosse, the position drew applications from all over the country, the Ohio City Inc. executive director said. Roggenburk, the president of US Lacrosseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s local chapter, said the national organization â&#x20AC;&#x153;will be sharingâ&#x20AC;? in the salary. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So we both have skin in the game,â&#x20AC;? Roggenburk said of US Lacrosse and Ohio City. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re in the midst of a capital raise to fund that and some other parts of the project. This is more than just the field.â&#x20AC;? A lot more, actually. The North Coast chapter is working with the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, with the hopes of introducing lacrosse to children in phys ed classes. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also meeting with municipal football leagues to promote lacrosse as a spring alternative to football. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d love to ultimately build out a program that these kids who end up liking the sport will play for various clubs, whether it be school-based or rec-based, that then lead to a youth league,â&#x20AC;? Roggenburk said. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an example of the ripple effects for which US Lacrosse is striving. Roggenburk, who played lacrosse at St. Ignatius High School and at the club level for Miami University, said there were fewer than a handful of Northeast Ohio high school lacrosse programs when he competed in the late-1980s. Now, he said, there are more than 120 boys and girls high school programs in the North Coast Ohio chapter. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We truly believe the city and the young people not only represent the next great growth opportunity, but we owe it to the game and all the opportunities that go along with it,â&#x20AC;? Roggenburk said.


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In the end, of course, there was a single bid, announced jointly by Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish. A joint statement said that their offices joined “the Greater Cleveland Partnership, TeamNEO, JobsOhio, the state of Ohio and numerous local partners in submitting a bid for Cleveland to be the site of Amazon’s second headquarters.” More than 20 organizations played roles in the bid, the statement said, though it did not disclose any details of the proposal. There’s been chatter for months about discord among the organizations, though no one in the relatively small economic development community will speak on the record about it. “Our clients always seem confused by the Cleveland-area economic development network,” wrote one economic development pro with a national practice in an email. “In most other places, you might deal with the state economic development agency, a regional group and a municipality. But regardless of who you call first, the project will be handled the same. In Northeast Ohio, who you contact first will dic-


tate how the project is handled and what assistance (financial and otherwise) is provided.” Others said they had seen the same thing, and had to worry that the wrong first call could shortchange a project. When he came to office seven years ago, Gov. John Kasich created the nonprofit JobsOhio to promote Ohio as a place for businesses to expand. Previously, 12 regional economic development officers around the state would respond to requests from mayors and others for state help. Now, JobsOhio would be the focal point but it would ally itself with a group of regional business development organizations to serve as JobsOhio regional offices. Team NEO became JobsOhio’s regional partner, covering 18 counties in Northeast Ohio. Team NEO predated JobsOhio by several years. It was created, and is funded, by a group of chambers of commerce, including GCP, the Greater Akron Chamber and the Youngstown Warren Regional Chamber. The goal was to do a better job of stimulating business development in the region than the cities, counties and chambers of commerce could do on their own. Wooing new businesses or offering financial incentives to existing businesses that want to expand has be-

come a collaborative effort with different partners able to offer different incentives. Cities like Cleveland control the granting of tax abatement and tax increment financing, both valuable incentives. Mayors would call in the state when it needed state loans or grants to help seal a deal. In Greater Cleveland, GCP has long worked to identify existing businesses that might need help expanding and it has played a significant role in real estate finance. Now, though, Team NEO would be the contact for state assistance and play a key role in winning loans or grants from JobsOhio or job tax credits from the state Development Services Agency. While some community leaders complained privately, former Akron Mayor Don Plusquellic objected strongly to the new organization in an interview in August 2011 with Crain’s, believing it would hamper his ability to attract business investment to his community. “We are appalled at what’s happened,” Plusquellic said in the interview. Plusquellic could no longer directly call the governor, or the governor’s Akron regional development director. He, and others in the region, would have to work through Team NEO and JobsOhio. That meant that Akron and Youngstown,


distinct labor markets with what they saw as strong local identities, were lumped together with Cleveland. Among the chambers, GCP in particular saw Team NEO, which it funded, as subordinate to its economic development effort, all of the economic development professionals familiar with the Cleveland market said. “GCP is committed to providing those services and the fact is, that when a project in the Cleveland metropolitan effort requires real estate they are frequently asked to invest,” said one economic development pro. “They were looking at Team NEO to support their effort, not the other way around.” Through its Cleveland Development Advisors affiliate, GCP has raised millions of dollars from local corporations for investment funds that have invested more than $320 million in housing and commercial development in Greater Cleveland. That gives it disproportionate clout that has allowed it to assert a lead role in many projects. “So Team NEO had a real problem,” said one consultant. Most agreed that Team NEO is the optimal point of contact for helping a company considering expansion into Northeast Ohio identify potential sites. Also, they agreed, large companies conducting nationwide searches

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Larry joins Findley Davies | BPS&M as a Managing Consultant in the firm’s Actuarial Consulting Practice working with multi-national clients to administer, value, and test complex defined benefit and defined contribution plans. Larry embodies what it means to be a consultant implementing risk transfer strategies for clients’ retirement programs including plan terminations, terminated vested cashouts, and retiree annuity purchases. Previously, Larry was a Principal with Mercer.

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for manufacturing or distribution sites will want to work with someone who can show them sites across a region, not deal with each metropolitan area within that region. “Team NEO has pretty good people and a pretty good process to help identify sites throughout the 16 or so counties,” one said. But, said another, Team NEO and what it can do is too easily overlooked in national searches. It doesn’t show up as high as it should when site selectors who’ve never worked in Northeast Ohio start their work with a Google search, as many now do, he said. All they know is Cleveland. “So if you do a Google search for, ‘Cleveland Ohio economic development,’ almost the entire first page of Google results point to the city of Cleveland’s economic development department,” he said. “While the city of Cleveland has some fine economic development folks, they do not have a lot of incentive to share leads (resulting from this Google search) with anyone else in the region, including GCP or Team NEO.” In part because site selectors know Cleveland but don’t know what comprises Northeast Ohio, nearly everyone agreed that adds to the friction in the Greater Cleveland area between GCP, Team NEO and the city of Cleveland.



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PA G E 31

Stewart Kohl

Co-CEO, The Riverside Co. In the Cleveland market, few would have a perspective on the world of private equity comparable to The Riverside Co.’s co-CEO Stewart Kohl.¶ The Oberlin College alumnus joined Riverside, a global private equity firm with co-headquarters in Cleveland, in 1993 following roles held at Court Square Capital Partners and Citicorp North America Inc. The year Kohl began working in private equity, 1988, is the same year Riverside was established.¶ With 30 years of experience in the field, Kohl has seen the private equity industry itself grow into a mainstream business, weathering economic downturns and thriving in up cycles along the way.¶ Crain’s met with Kohl to discuss the landscape for private equity today, the historical elements that have shaped its identity and how an industry veteran views doing business in an increasingly competitive environment. — Jeremy Nobile

Five things Passions outside work? I’m a big cyclist (and a founding donor of the VeloSano charity bike ride).

Person who’s most impacted your life? Besides my business partner Béla Szigethy, it's Bruce Springsteen

Favorite movie director? I’m a big Ken Burns fan

If not private equity, what career might you have? Maybe an architect

Top of your bucket list? To attend the Burning Man festival in Nevada

Lunch spot Café Avalaun 4640 Richmond Road, Warrensville Heights

The meal The Za Crepe (with garlic roasted tomatoes, mozzarella, basil) and the Frenchie Fru-Fru Crepe (roasted chicken, brie, spinach, mushrooms, pesto)

The vibe With a quintessential café vibe, the restaurant, which specializes in crepes and “creperitos,” is in a small but charming space with a few wood tables. There’s a huge menu catering to nearly every conceivable taste and dietary restriction. An inside window gives patrons a full view of the kitchen.

The bill $23.50 + tip

When you reflect on getting involved in private equity three decades ago, what stands out to you? In my view, private equity wasn’t really an industry 30 years ago. It established itself as a meaningful part of the capital markets in the 1980s with participation in a lot of going-private transactions. Then everything came to a screeching halt with the first Gulf War recession of the early 1990s. It didn’t really blossom into an industry, I think, until the next economic peak in the late ’90s when we had another boom. Sounds like 1988 was a pretty interesting and formative time for a developing private equity business. And it was a great time to get started because the ’90s ended up being very good for private equity. It was early on. And because of the Gulf War and the recession, purchase price multiples were quite reasonable, and you could buy companies for attractive prices. What’s changed is, over the last several decades, the relentless, global competitive environment forces businesses to become more and more efficient all the time. When we meet a company, it’s typically the case there are fewer easy wins, fewer easy ways to make the company more profitable. So in terms of those easy wins, the low-hanging fruit has usually been plucked nowadays. Companies are very lean today. We’ll still look for opportunities to reduce costs. But a way we go about making them more profitable is going after things that affect the top line, like sales. What were times like heading through the 1990s to 2008? The boom of the late ’90s ended with Sept. 11 and the events of 2001. The recovery after 2001 was more rapid than the recovery after 1991. Things were booming again by 2003 and continued up until 2008. By then, like many other businesses, folks were wondering what would happen to PE. How many firms could go out of business? Those firms own a lot of companies, so what if those companies go bust? How many loans would go bad? All our investors, pension funds, insurance funds, endowments, all began to worry about what would happen to their money. And how did Riverside deal with all that? There’s this temptation to adopt a

fetal position and not doing anything. We talked about that. But we saw what happened after ’91, ’01. You know, the world ends far fewer times than people predict. So we saw this incredible buying opportunity. We owned 69 businesses at the time employing over 10,000 people, and we had 150 people of our own — we didn’t lay anyone off. Our plan was to stomp down on the accelerator rather than hit the brakes. We thought it could be the buying spree of our careers. Was it the buying spree of your careers? Well, no. We weren’t the only ones who saw what happened after those downturns. Unless someone was in real distress, a seller might say, my business was worth $100 a year ago, now you’re saying it’s worth $50? That doesn’t make sense to me. It’ll be worth $90 or $100 again. And the sellers were right. I tried to convince them, hey, don’t worry about that if that’s your attitude. Take our money today, the $50 or $60 or $70 we’d pay you, and go buy the stock market, which was trading at half of what it was. And if the world recovers, you’ll do beautifully out of that. Did anyone listen to you? Nobody took my advice. (Laughs) Entrepreneurs tend to be pretty stubborn. Coming into the present, is this competitive landscape for deals really as challenging as we hear? This is the most competitive environment I’ve seen in my 30 years. And it’s a natural evolution of the industry. The returns are good, which is drawing that large amount of financial capital. But then there’s the human capital. People are drawn to our industry during the peaks, not just investors. There’s more people in the industry with skills that have built up over all this time. It’s the combination of financial and human capital that has created the competition we see today. As competition for deals heightens and costs for companies surge, what’s the key to excelling? Every firm is different, but there are some commonalities: deeper industry expertise, more creative approaches to originating deals, more use of add-ons to create value, and more, faster, stronger use of operating expertise.

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Crain's Cleveland Business  

October 23 - 29, 2017 issue

Crain's Cleveland Business  

October 23 - 29, 2017 issue