Every fall, we invite our corporate clients to reserve a seat on our trolley and spend an afternoon exploring off-the-beaten-path places. This day showcases – on a smaller scale – how we educate and immerse their candidates and transplants into the culture of Northeast Ohio. They see the city in which they live from a different perspective than what they’re used to on a regular basis, and that helps them communicate what a wonderful place Cleveland is to their out-of-town recruits. We call this annual event “Connect to CLE.” And the main takeaway is: don’t let your candidates know more about your town than you do.
Connect to CLE provides ammunition for those in the talent attraction, executive search, recruitment, and relocation fields so that they know how to best sell our town to those who are unfamiliar or resistant to a move here. It’s part networking with their peers and part being a tourist in their own town.
We started the afternoon with lunch (catered by local chef/entrepreneur Clark Pope) in the conference room at MidTown Cleveland’s offices where Executive Director Jeff Epstein shared what was going on in his neighborhood. This three mile stretch between downtown Cleveland and University Circle is generally just an urban cut-through for drivers as they head home on Chester, Euclid, or Carnegie, but most of us have noticed dramatic changes in the few years that Jeff has been at the helm making things happen including:
- Densely populated by small businesses, MidTown has more than 60 non-profits and 75 tech firms including health and lab technology firms. It’s also home to biggies like Pierre’s and Dealer Tire.
- Cleveland Children’s Museum is drawing great numbers as one of the few big tourist destinations in the neighborhood.
- The newest hotel is the Tru by Hilton at E. 69th & Euclid. Super contemporary, vivid colors make this former empty lot spring to life.
- This summer, there was a kickball tournament at League Park, the first home of the Cleveland Indians (how fun is that?)
We also heard from Gordon Priemer & Eric Diamond, owners of the Central Kitchen, a craft food business that started at E. 28th & Euclid. Initially, they offered commercially licensed kitchens for food entrepreneurs, but they have since expanded to Carnegie and E. 71st (an entire city block of local business owners pumping out unique treats). They provide a real ecosystem to the food world in CLE. Over 400 people have taken a seven week training to learn how to sell food to the general public. Their resident members include Cleveland Kraut, Randy’s Pickles, Pope’s Kitchen, and more.
As we headed out for day of exploration, we described the fictitious couple this orientation day was created for so our attendees could envision how we use info gleaned from our telephone conversation with the candidate and significant other to customize each one-of-a-kind outing. This year, we envisioned an empty nest couple relocating from Chicago who wanted an urban walkable lifestyle and enjoyed live music, dining out, hiking, and performing arts. Here is the itinerary we created for them:
Stop #1 – The Agora
We stopped in to the newly renovated Agora. When LiveNation took over management of this legendary Cleveland concert venue, they diversified the type of artists. Now, the monthly calendar appeals to a much wider audience (not just heavy metal fans).
Stop #2 – Little Italy
Legendary chef/restaurant owner Terry Tarantino met our group at his restaurant of 30 years, La Dolce Vita. He shared his thoughts on the changes in the area that are bringing new residential projects quickly to this busy urban neighborhood including: Quattro Condos on Random Road near Tony Brush Park, Centric Apartments, and others. He described the community settlement house, Alta House, that was gifted to the neighborhood by John D. Rockefeller in honor of his daughter; it now houses Cleveland Montessori School (Pre K–8th grade) and dozens of weekly bocce ball league games.
Stop #3 – Karamu House
Tony Sias greeted us in the newly renovated ticket lobby (thanks to $2M grant from Cleveland Foundation and $1.5M from The Gund Foundation). The main stage Jelliffe Theater is beautiful and intimate. Six shows are on the schedule beginning October 2019. Karamu House is the oldest African American performing arts center in the country and, if you have been to shows at Dobama, Beck Center, or Chagrin Falls Little Theater, there is no reason you shouldn’t visit this wonderful gem on the corner of E. 89th & Quincy. One of our staff members bought tickets to the show for the weekend after our outing and encouraged us all to go.
Tony reminded us all that Opportunity Corridor is just a few blocks away. The next phase of renovations will open up a side of the building to Quincy Avenue with an indoor/outdoor cafe patio to be a more visible force in the Fairfax neighborhood.
Stop #4 – Towpath Trail from Tremont to The Flats
Sean McDermott, Chief Planning & Design Officer of the Cleveland Metroparks, met us in Tremont behind Sokolowski’s University Inn and led a walking tour of the Towpath Trail from the overlook in Tremont down to the Flats by Hoopples restaurant on Columbus, including the Cleveland Foundation’s Lake Link Trail. We got such cool views of Scranton Peninsula being redeveloped into Thunderbird, a mixed-used development including housing, offices, restaurants, and shops. The Metroparks has 300 miles of trails, an over $800M economic impact on our region, and has 18 million visitors a year.
Stop #5 – Residences at Terminal Tower
Every native Clevelander has strong memories associated with downtown’s most iconic office building, the Terminal Tower. And for the first time in this building’s history, apartments are being created on floors 4–14 (top floors are still offices). So if you want to live in this beautiful, spired building with the RTA train in the basement to take you to the airport or around town, this is your first opportunity. The views are killer and the address is pretty impressive. A two bedroom apartment costs roughly $2,000/month (and all units have windows that open for fresh air, something not all downtown high rises offer).
It’s always an energy filled day, and our last stop was Heinen’s on E. 9th & Euclid for happy hour, which explains our grins as we neared the site. This homegrown grocery chain is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year and we couldn’t think of a better place to spend our money than this architectural beauty with amazing food. We handed each of our guests a wine credit card pre-loaded with $20 so they could walk to any chilled wine dispenser and choose their own 1 oz, 3 oz or 5 oz pour. First timers to this site (and to the self-pour wine concept) loved it!
Next fall, we will pick another 4–6 unique spots and spend an afternoon slathering love on our clients and giving them the info they need to do their jobs better. If this kind of outing would help your talent attraction team, or would be a great team-building outing for a group of your employees or clients, we have the contacts and insights to pull together a customized outing like this for your group, just give us a call at 216.231.9311.