What Cleveland Can Learn From Silicon Valley
Besides medical devices, the Cleveland area -- a more than century-old stronghold for auto, rubber and glass making -- aims to carve out niches in clean energy and flexible electronics.
But with the loss of 8.7 million jobs in the recession, state and local officials are more active in trying to speed the growth of nascent clusters to create new jobs ... Now, the federal government is stepping in. President Obama's fiscal 2012 budget proposes a competition to identify 20 potential clusters that would receive a share of $2.5 billion in financial incentives.
Driving the effort was Ohio's Third Frontier, a $2.3 billion state program to nurture new tech-based industries. The initiative has pumped $235 million into biomedical research and start-ups in northeast Ohio since 2002. Non-profits such as BioEnterprise have recruited medical firms to the region, helped start-ups obtain venture capital and state money and matched manufacturers with suppliers.
There are challenges, including a shortage of skilled workers and entrepreneurs to lead start-ups. Astro, with 275 employees, added 45 last year and is struggling to hire a dozen engineers, managers and machinists. "It's impossible," says Vice President Rich Peterson, adding that many old-line workers lack essential math and computer skills.