How can CyberOhio assist your business?

Learn how CyberOhio is working to keep your company safe from cyberattacks.

On March 10, we had an opportunity to connect our members with Craig Rapp (Director, CyberOhio) to learn more about the CyberOhio program and in advance of the initiative’s upcoming Business Summit. The CyberOhio Business Summit will take place on March 31 in central Ohio and it will feature cybersecurity experts to provide business owners with practical, understandable, and actionable cybersecurity information.

CyberOhio was launched last year by the Ohio Attorney General’s office and is a collection of cybersecurity resources aimed at helping Ohio’s businesses fight back against cyberattacks. The goal is to provide the best legal, technical, and collaborative cybersecurity environment possible to help Ohio’s businesses thrive. 

How can CyberOhio assist your business?  Click here to view our brief interview

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  • Next up: Ask the Expert: How Can I be More Effective in Closing a Deal?

    Ask the Expert: How Can I be More Effective in Closing a Deal?

    “First off, it’s important to understand that closing the deal begins way before the final handshake and completed order form. One of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make is to believe that there is a magical closing line that you can pull out of your hip pocket at the end of a sales event that will seal the deal. Dangling a deadline or offering to hold a price in exchange for signing that day are tactics that go against the grain of the sales techniques that we foster.

    “First off, it’s important to understand that closing the deal begins way before the final handshake and completed order form. One of the biggest mistakes a salesperson can make is to believe that there is a magical closing line that you can pull out of your hip pocket at the end of a sales event that will seal the deal. Dangling a deadline or offering to hold a price in exchange for signing that day are tactics that go against the grain of the sales techniques that we foster.

    “Developing a mutually beneficial relationship with potential clients is essential in sales. I always say, “We don’t sell, the prospect buys.” Following are a few examples of best practices that should define your sales process:

    “Set proper expectations. The most critical part of the sales process is how you structure a selling event. It’s important to lay down ground rules, or what we call an ‘up front contract,’ which can eliminate any surprises. It’s always best to let the sales prospect know at the outset that the meeting will consist of a) things you will talk about, b) any topics or questions they want to talk about, and c) what decision will be made in the end. 

    “Introduce opportunities for incremental decisions. If there is any hesitancy, let them know upfront that the decision today isn’t necessarily a sale. The decision can be as simple as an agreement to “test drive” a product or service or meet a second time. 

    “Don’t assume that price is the only issue. Take the time to understand the needs of the prospect; don’t just tout the benefits of your product or service. Understanding what is compelling them to do something different should be at the heart of every sales event.

    “Every salesperson has their own style, but these proven sales techniques can help you successfully close the deal and establish an ongoing relationship built on trust. It’s also important to understand that what you’re selling won’t always be a good fit for the prospect and that it’s ok to have a no.”

    Dave F. Harman is director of Sandler Training.

    Want more expert advice? Check out COSE Expert Network, an online forum connecting business owners with creative solutions to the tough questions they face every day. 

    This article originally appeared in the February 2, 2015, edition of Small Business Matters.

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  • Next up: How COSE Events Helped These 3 Businesses Grow

    How COSE Events Helped These 3 Businesses Grow


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  • Next up: How Entrepreneurs Can Best Launch a Content Marketing Program

    How Entrepreneurs Can Best Launch a Content Marketing Program

    In 1990, there were only a handful of ways a small business could reach and talk to its customers. Today, there are literally hundreds of thousands of platforms to do that.

    In 1990, there were only a handful of ways a small business could reach and talk to its customers. Today, there are literally hundreds of thousands of platforms to do that.

    The bad news, as Content Marketing Institute Founder Joe Pulizzi sees it, is this means there are hundreds of thousands of ways for a customer to ignore that message.

    So, how does a small business owner cut through the noise, pick the right platform and deliver the right message in order to have an impact on the customer? That’s the question Pulizzi addressed on the final day of the Content Marketing World conference during a session developed specifically for small businesses and start-ups. Below is the action plan Pulizzi relayed that will help small enterprises get their content marketing programs going.

    Find Your Sweet Spot

    What do you want to talk about? That seems like an easy question to answer, but it’s one you’ll have to give some thought to. Where does the knowledge/skill you possess intersect with the passion/pain points of your customer? Answer that, and you’ll know what subject you should be focusing on. Just make sure that the content you provide is interesting, helpful, valuable and consistent.

    Pulizzi also suggested writing down the goals you have for your content marketing at this early stage. That will help make it real and give you something to shoot for. Keep in mind, too, that content marketing is a long-term strategy. That’s where “be consistent” comes into play; keep hammering away at your audience with useful content to help spread your brand message.

    Content Tilt

    Now that you’ve settled on a subject, you have to take it a step further and tilt your content. What does that mean? That means look at your sweet spot in a different way and find a niche that your business can own. “You can’t go niche enough,” Pulizzi said.

    Build the Base

    Your content needs to have a home base. You’re a good writer? Then your home base should be a written channel, like a blog. Is your brand message more suited to visuals? Then you should be thinking about video, Pulizzi said. He laid out a simple formula for discovering what your base should be: One content type + one main platform + consistent delivery+ a long period of time = the base.

    Harvesting an Audience

    All this hard work you’re putting into creating content won’t mean anything if you’re not talking to anyone. Pulizzi suggested entrepreneurs build this audience on the platforms they own, rather than focusing a lot on social media platforms. Why? Because at any given time, social platforms could change their algorithm and your message could be pushed out. You don’t own that channel so you have no recourse. Where do you have the most control of your message? That would be with your email subscribers. Your content efforts should prioritize getting emails from your audience so you can more easily direct your message to them.

    Monetization

    We all want to make money, right? Once you have your content program up and running, begin thinking about the monetization side. What do you want your subscribers to do? Are you looking to retain them? Do you want them to buy more of your products? Do you want them to be more loyal? Do you want to increase attendance at your events? Figure that out and then ensure your content is designed to achieve the monetization goal you’ve settled on.

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  • Next up: How has advocacy and the GCP PAC supported you and your business lately?

    How has advocacy and the GCP PAC supported you and your business lately?

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is a non-partisan, member-driven endeavor committed to advancing the business community’s interests by building and reinforcing relationships and supporting candidates and current elected officials at the state and local levels of government. By contributing to the campaign efforts of those who will further advance our shared priorities, we provide you with a unique opportunity to advocate for initiatives and best practices that encourage economic growth and prosperity. 

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is a non-partisan, member-driven endeavor committed to advancing the business community’s interests by building and reinforcing relationships and supporting candidates and current elected officials at the state and local levels of government. By contributing to the campaign efforts of those who will further advance our shared priorities, we provide you with a unique opportunity to advocate for initiatives and best practices that encourage economic growth and prosperity. The GCP PAC is a strong, unified voice for businesses of all sizes and industries in our region and aids businesses in educating key decision makers on the issues that are important to you. Our role is to provide our members with the means for concerted political action. And, the dollars contributed through GCP PAC are used to provide support for governmental leaders campaigning for election who share your interests.

    So, how has advocacy and the GCP PAC supported you and your business lately?

    • November election outcomes mirrored COSE’s/GCP’s position on four ballot issues.
    • State budget approved with personal income tax cut and deduction without shifting the burden to businesses.
    • Ensured entrepreneurs will not be penalized in the form of increased workers’ compensation rates, outstanding balances, or uncovered claims costs for assuming space that was previously inhabited by a completely separate business with negative claims experience.
    • Opposed legislation that jeopardizes local hiring requirements.
    • Secured needed reforms in Ohio’s charter school reform law.
    • Governor Kasich signed S.B.1 to protect Lake Erie and Ohio’s water quality.
    • Business, political leaders connected at the COSE Day at the Capitol and the GCP Public Officials Reception.

    Interested in learning more about the GCP PAC?  Visit our website here or e-mail advocacy@cose.org.

    Please note individuals, limited liability companies (LLCs), partnerships and sole proprietorships can legally make contributions to a PAC. Contributions must include itemized allocations by partners in partnerships or members of a LLC. Ohio law prohibits other corporate political contributions.

    Your participation in the GCP PAC is completely voluntary. Donations are not tax-deductible and will be used for political purposes. An individual may contribute up to $12,532 annually to an Ohio Political Action Committee. You may choose not to participate without fear of reprisal. You will not be favored or disadvantaged by reason of the amount of your contribution or decision not to contribute.

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  • Next up: How has GCP Advocacy Helped Your Business?

    How has GCP Advocacy Helped Your Business?

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s advocacy efforts are driven by our mission of mobilizing private sector leadership, expertise, and resources from businesses of all sizes to create attractive economic conditions that create jobs, grow investment, and improve the prosperity of our region. Our public policy priorities are driven by you and we work to provide a unified voice for the Northeast Ohio business community to our elected officials and regulators on key issues that are critical for business growth. In 2016, we enjoyed some significant victories for the business community locally and throughout Ohio.  We take great pride in serving as your voice and we look forward to continuing our shared work into the future.

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s advocacy efforts are driven by our mission of mobilizing private sector leadership, expertise, and resources from businesses of all sizes to create attractive economic conditions that create jobs, grow investment, and improve the prosperity of our region. Our public policy priorities are driven by you and we work to provide a unified voice for the Northeast Ohio business community to our elected officials and regulators on key issues that are critical for business growth. In 2016, we enjoyed some significant victories for the business community locally and throughout Ohio.  We take great pride in serving as your voice and we look forward to continuing our shared work into the future. 

    A Look Back

    Local Issues

    Minimum Wage & Part-Time Workers 

    An initiative that proposed a Cleveland-only minimum wage increase was brought forward that would have phased in a $15 minimum wage (starting with $12 an hour in January 2018) while the rest of the state remained at $8.15.  In December, state legislation – Senate Bill 331 – passed that aimed to prohibit Cleveland and other political subdivisions from establishing minimum wage rates different from the rate required by state law.  Senate Bill 331 was signed by the Governor on December 19, 2016 and it will be effective 90 days from the Governor’s signature.  As a result of this work, petitioners announced they are suspending their effort and we are no longer facing this issue. 

    A separate Cleveland-only part-time workers’ initiative that was in-line to appear on the November ballot was also eventually withdrawn by petitioners.  The state legislature and Governor chose to protect employers from similar measures in the future by approving a provision – also found in Senate Bill 331 – that grants a private employer the exclusive authority to govern matters concerning work hours, location of work, scheduling, and fringe benefits. 

     

    GCP and our partners advocated for state intervention and opposed these misguided local ballot issues due to the bevy of job-threatening regulations the part-time workers’ issue would mandate on businesses and because the Cleveland-only minimum wage issue would place Cleveland at a disadvantage, hinder job creation, business growth, and the overall momentum the City of Cleveland is now experiencing.   

     

    Cleveland Schools & Income Tax

    Two issues backed by GCP — the Cleveland school levy renewal (Issue 108) and a 0.5 percent income tax increase (Issue 32) — won voter approval in November 2016 allowing the City to continue academic improvement and protect city services.

    GCP formed a working group of members to examine the city budget and the need for the income tax proposal.  GCP ultimately supported the measure and member companies contributed over 95% of the funds needed to support the effort.  Our support of the initiative came after lengthy review and analysis; Issue 32 is designed to help improve many city services like trash collection, pothole patching, demolition of vacant homes, and allow for the hiring of more than 100 additional police and safety personnel, among others.  And, while we do not take tax increases lightly, our members became convinced that it will help to further energize Cleveland’s renaissance and offer multiple benefits to people who live and/or work in the city, as well as those who visit. 

    The passage of Issue 108 will help to continue the work underway with the Cleveland Plan for Transforming Schools, without raising taxes. The levy, which generates about $77 million annually, was originally passed in 2012 and provides the needed resources to fund the Cleveland Plan, which includes reforms such as: growing the number of high-performing district schools in Cleveland, and closing and replacing failing schools; investing in high-leverage system reforms across all schools from preschool to college and career; and creating the Cleveland Transformation Alliance, a public-private partnership, to ensure accountability for all public schools in the city.

    GCP has been a leading supporter of efforts to improve public education in Cleveland and played a key role in the creation of the Cleveland Plan, House Bill 525 that codified the plan in state law, and the passage of the initial 2012 operating levy. Within its four years of existence, the Cleveland Plan is yielding promising results.  Cleveland schools have made steady progress on increased test scores, student attendance and graduation rates. The renewal of the levy provides the needed momentum for further improvements that will ultimately lead to more students who are college and career ready.

    Cuyahoga County Health & Human Services

    In March 2016, Cuyahoga County voters approved an eight-year renewal of one of two health and human services levies. GCP’s board of directors endorsed Issue 23 because of its vital role in providing funding for those most in need in our community. The eight year renewal is longer than prior renewals, meaning the “no tax increase” rate of 4.8 mills is locked in for a longer period of time, and fewer campaigns are needed to maintain the services. The levy generates roughly $130 million annually.

    Cuyahoga County Inclusion

    GCP and the Commission on Economic Inclusion championed the passage of county legislation that will increase opportunities for small and minority-owned firms to do more work with the County. Specifically, the legislation allows for (1) exclusive contracting opportunities or “set asides” for small businesses; (2) aspirational goals for minority and female-owned business participation on County contracts; (3) criteria to waive performance bond requirements on projects of a certain size, and; (4) a business economic inclusion program as an incentive for contractors to engage more minority and female-owned firms on projects. County Council also passed a resolution that makes Cuyahoga County an endorser of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Community Benefit Agreements on major construction projects. GCP played a key role with the City of Cleveland and other core partners on the development of the MOU in 2013. Cuyahoga County is one of the newest partners to endorse this initiative.

    State Legislation & Initiatives

    Unemployment Compensation Reform

    It is clear Ohio’s current unemployment system must be re-structured for it to be viable in future generations. In 2016, the GCP supported and helped secure legislation that allowed the state to pay federal debt a year ahead of schedule, saving Ohio job creators millions of dollars in 2017.  However, reforms still must be implemented that allow the unemployment fund to achieve a path toward solvency and the importance of this issue was highlighted by a GCP board member over the summer. 

    While the legislature ended its 2016 “lame duck” session without a long-term fix of the state's unemployment compensation system as planned, some progress could have been made to that end.  The plan, which the legislature approved via Senate Bill 235, calls for an actuary be hired to analyze various long-term solvency proposals going forward. The legislation – endorsed by the Governor – also directs lawmakers, labor leaders, and business officials to negotiate a permanent agreement by April 1, 2017.

    New Market Tax Credits

    Having the tools to advance physical development in Northeast Ohio is critical. GCP played a lead role to secure a needed reform to Ohio’s New Market Tax Credit program to remove a restrictive real estate provision that limited the use of this tax credit. With this provision now gone, the state program will be in greater alignment with the federal and allow mixed-use development projects – a growing trend in development happening in Cleveland’s major business and technology corridors – to be eligible for the program. 

    At the federal level, GCP supported Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA), a real estate and business development finance affiliate of GCP, on its winning application for a $60 million federal tax credit award. This is the largest federal NMTC award in Cleveland to-date, to spur economic growth in our region.  The prior NMTC allocations to CDA ($155 million) have spurred more than $796 million in investment in Cleveland and nearly 5,000 permanent jobs. 

    2020 Tax Policy Study Commission

    The Ohio 2020 Tax Policy Study Commission was created in the last state budget cycle. The commission is a bi-partisan group of state legislators charged with examining Ohio’s tax structure to determine any reforms that might be necessary in the next state budget that will strengthen Ohio’s economic competitiveness.  GCP consistently reiterated the perspective of small, mid-market and large employers as it relates to tax policy in Ohio before this panel, including through staff testimony.

    Medical Marijuana Legalization

    The legislature and Governor pre-empted a campaign to place the legalization of medicinal marijuana on the ballot by approving legislation that technically made Ohio the 25th state to legalize medical marijuana in September 2016. The legalization effort that was working to put their separate initiative – which was broader in scope – before voters this past November discontinued operations.  The entirety of the legalization plan that will go into effect is required to complete the regulatory process within 2 years and a GCP board member was appointed employer representative on Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee.  The good news for employers is specific protections GCP advocated for were included in the legislation that passed and were not addressed in the now defunct referendum proposal.  

    State Capital Budget Bill

    GCP was successful in advocacy efforts on the state’s 2016 capital bill that brought more than $23 million to Cuyahoga County for core community projects, more than half of which were for projects that GCP directly championed.  Of note is $3.5 million that was secured for the completion of the Public Square transformation project, which revitalized a key public space in our community. There is an appropriate role for state support on economic impact projects of significant magnitude. Another capital bill is expected in 2017/2018 and GCP will advocate for greater investment for transformational projects in our community.

    Protecting the Great Lakes & Cuyahoga River

    The Great Lakes is a major economic force, with the existence of more than 1.5 million jobs due to activities in the Great Lakes region. Lake Erie alone has an annual $10.7 billion economic impact and accounts for 30% of the tourism dollars that come to Ohio. The Cuyahoga River is an important international shipping channel in our region and critical to our local economy. The direct and indirect jobs generated from ArcelorMittal are estimated at over 14,000 with an annual payroll of $820 million. Thus, protecting the Great Lakes and the Cuyahoga River are important for ongoing job creation and economic development. GCP has long advocated with the Port of Cleveland for state and federal policies that protect the health and economic activity of our major water ways. In 2016, GCP continued efforts to advocate against open lake disposal of dredged materials in Lake Erie and to ensure that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers appropriately dredged the Cuyahoga River so business activity was not disrupted.

    Workers’ Compensation Subrogation

    Effective August 31, 2016, a state fund employer could have a workers' compensation claim (when based on a motor vehicle accident involving a third party) be paid from the surplus fund account in the state insurance fund rather than charged to the employer's experience.  In short, this new policy is due to legislation GCP supported – House Bill 207 – that became law and added language to Ohio Revised Code that states the criteria for a workers’ compensation claim to be charged to the surplus fund and not impact the employer’s experience.  Click here to learn more and read the GCP’s written testimony in support of HB 207. 

    Small Claims Disputes

    On May 11, 2016 the GCP submitted testimony before the Ohio Senate Civil Justice Committee in support of small claims courts legislation, House Bill 387.  In the past, a small claims division had jurisdiction in civil actions for the recovery of taxes and money only, for amounts not exceeding $3,000, not including interest and cost.  Our members were encouraged by efforts to double the maximum dollar amount to $6,000 for all sizes of business and, with the ultimate approval of House Bill 387, this act became effective on September 28, 2016.  Adjusting the maximum level small claims courts have jurisdiction over will allow for additional business owners to participate in a process that was not available to them in years past.  It will help them: contain legal costs, save time and effort that could be better spent managing their businesses, and utilize a more informal, expeditious, and inexpensive means to pursue claims for smaller sums of money through the small claims division.

    Small Business Regulatory Toolkit

    In 2016, the launch of a new electronic toolkit that is designed to help Ohio’s small businesses navigate regulatory issues and other matters was unveiled.  The new business asset - available at www.governor.ohio.gov/csitoolkit - is part of Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI), which was created in 2011 to help create a more jobs-friendly regulatory climate in Ohio.  Two GCP members serve on the CSI Small Business Advisory Council and the concept of the toolkit was conceived by business members of the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE), the small business division of the GCP.

    DC Fly-In

    The DC Fly-In provides GCP members with an opportunity to engage directly with Ohio’s congressional delegation and other federal public officials throughout a series of workshops and events over the course of two days in Washington D.C. Local government partners from Northeast Ohio also have the opportunity to hear directly from agencies about federal resources that they can leverage for their communities. In 2016, attendees heard from nearly two dozen elected officials, including Congresswoman Marcia Fudge, Congressman Dave Joyce, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur, and Congressman Jim Renacci. Attendees also heard from federal agency and White House staff on key policy developments and from major corporations on developing technology trends to follow.

    COSE Day at the Capitol

    COSE Day at the Capitol provides our members with the unique opportunity to meet with policymakers in the Statehouse and discuss ways in which we can work together to enhance the business climate in Ohio.  This annual event provides direct access to key stakeholders and allows for an exchange of ideas and policy priorities.  In 2016, COSE Day afforded attendees the chance to lobby legislators on the issues that impact the workplace, ranging from health care to energy policies.  In addition, Ohio Senate President Keith Faber and State Representative Barbara Sears were presented Small Business Advocate of the Year awards for their successful efforts to support small businesses in Ohio.

    GCP Public Officials Reception

    The 53rd annual Public Officials Reception, presented by the Greater Cleveland Partnership, brought more than 500 of Northeast Ohio’s business and community leaders together with elected local, state, and federal officials at Windows on the River.  The event kicked off with a pre-reception conversation with Ohio Senate President Larry Obhof and Ohio House of Representatives Speaker Cliff Rosenberger moderated by GCP President and CEO Joe Roman. The discussion focused on legislative priorities for the coming session.  Many thanks to our sponsors, members, and their guests for once again making this not-to-be-missed event a tremendous success.

    Republican National Convention

    After years of revitalization and careful preparation, Cleveland truly shined brightly at the Republican National Convention as state delegates, visitors, and media from all over the world raved about our city and the individuals and organizations in the public, private, and non-profit sectors who made the experience possible. GCP’s leadership played an important role in bringing the Convention to Cleveland and led efforts to accelerate the progress on key community projects, like Public Square. GCP hosted a reception for the Great Lakes Metro Chamber Coalition, a group co-founded by GCP and that includes more than 30 chambers of commerce that collectively work to leverage the economic force of the 12 states and two Canadian provinces that comprise the Great Lakes region.   Click here for a snapshot of some of the positive Convention media coverage that praised Cleveland.

    Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC)

    Aside from voting, you can contribute to Cleveland’s growth and momentum going forward in many ways.  The Greater Cleveland Partnership Political Action Committee (GCP PAC) is an important advocacy tool in our efforts to ensure the collective voice of our members is heard in state and local government.  By contributing to the campaigns of officials who have demonstrated a desire to work with Northeast Ohio businesses for the good of the greater community, the GCP PAC helps advance policies and projects in line with the common goals of our members. 

    In 2016, the GCP carried out a strategy to double the dollar amount raised for GCP PAC from the previous year.  If you are interested in increasing the strength of our region’s voice even further, please consider making a contribution to the GCP PAC and be a part of our movement.  Your contribution helps maximize the impact we have and ensures elected officials understand the policy priorities that are important to our members and helps drive investment in our region.

    A Brief Look Ahead

    The next few years will bring a number of changes to the political landscape at the local, state, and federal levels (for the GCP’s comprehensive analysis of the 2016 General Election results and what it all could mean for Northeast Ohio businesses click here).  The future will undoubtedly offer opportunities and simultaneously present challenges, but we will be prepared to work with all our elected leaders to advocate for you on the issues that matter most for our region. 

    In January, GCP will release its board-approved 2017-18 Public Policy Agenda. This document will serve as a road map for the top public policy issues that you have identified as important to you and your business. It provides a comprehensive framework to ensure we are focused on core business needs, such as smart, balanced tax reform and regulations, while responding to the critical community needs that are important for economic growth – education, workforce development, and public infrastructure and transportation priorities. 

    Our members’ support of our advocacy work comes in many ways.  Whether you are an active member of our Government Affairs Council, attended the GCP Public Officials Reception, or you volunteered your time in other ways we thank you for your extraordinary engagement in advocacy.  Your participation allows us to make progress on the policy issues that are vital to helping foster an environment that allows the business community to achieve success.  

    Happy New Year!  Your support is important and is always appreciated.

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