August 15: “Test Drive” Ohio Business Gateway Modernization Project

The Ohio Business Gateway offers Ohio's businesses an online filing and payment system that aims to simplify a business' relationship with government agencies.

Ohio businesses can use the Gateway to access various services and electronically submit transactions with many state agencies. The Gateway also works with local governments to enable businesses to file and pay selected Ohio municipal income taxes. Click here for a complete list of services and transactions offered by the Ohio Business Gateway.

An Ohio Business Gateway modernization project has been underway and on August 15 there will be an opportunity for end users like you to “kick the tires” of the new system before it goes live.  If your business is interested in taking the new Ohio Business Gateway for a “test drive” and to provide Ohio government with real-time feedback that focuses on the needs of the business community please see below for details on how your business can take advantage of this opportunity.

When:             Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where:            Riffe Center, 31st Floor, 77 S. High Street, Columbus, OH

Time:               10:00 a.m. – Noon

Register:         paula.steele@governor.ohio.gov

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  • Next up: B'Laster, MACE Show Brand Awareness Strategies to Deliver World Renowned Brands

    B'Laster, MACE Show Brand Awareness Strategies to Deliver World Renowned Brands

    Our region is the home of many iconic innovators and companies known the world over. The Rockefeller Fortune began in Cleveland and it was in Cleveland that in 1879 on Public Square that the first American streetlight shown bright. Today, we are the home of Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland-Cliffs, Eaton, and American Greetings; companies known the world over.  In a few weeks, the Republican National Convention will bring Northeast Ohio into the homes of the world. I am proud that in addition to the above companies, there are many other great world known brands located locally. I want to tell you a little about two such businesses I have personally been able to get to work with during my work here at COSE that are taking steps to broaden their brand awareness. 

    Our region is the home of many iconic innovators and companies known the world over. The Rockefeller Fortune began in Cleveland and it was in Cleveland that in 1879 on Public Square that the first American streetlight shown bright. Today, we are the home of Sherwin-Williams, Cleveland-Cliffs, Eaton, and American Greetings; companies known the world over.  In a few weeks, the Republican National Convention will bring Northeast Ohio into the homes of the world. I am proud that in addition to the above companies, there are many other great world known brands located locally. I want to tell you a little about two such businesses I have personally been able to get to work with during my work here at COSE that are taking steps to broaden their brand awareness. 

    B’Laster Corporation

    First, let's talk about B'Laster Corporation headquartered in Valley View. Those of you who, like me, take I-77 North downtown might have seen their new billboards.  This is just the latest example of their increasing outdoor exposure in and around Cleveland. How effective is outdoor advertising? Well, according to survey data from the Outdoor Advertising Association of America, more than 90% of travelers said they had noticed some form of out-of-home in the past month. Further, 80% reported having noticed billboard advertising. 

    The positive momentum from the outdoor advertising helps supplement their existing distribution in various big box, automotive, hardware and industrial retailers, and are taking steps toward expanding internationally. I recently visited their headquarters and was excited to hear they have expanded their current facility as well as adding warehouse space at additional locations. They are also planning on having a large presence at the RNC having columns wrapped in the style of their iconic bottles. 

    MACE Corporation

    Now let’s talk about the MACE Corporation. Before I began at COSE, I never would have guessed MACE Spray was manufactured here in downtown Cleveland. Like many companies entering their fifth decade, they needed to look inward to ensure they were committed to their core mission and not drifting into markets they could have an impact in. As a result, they redefined the company to concentrate on core products of personal defense and security from its iconic Mace Brand defense sprays to innovative safety wear for people and pets to an array of security devices. Thanks to the strength of this focused product line, coupled with enhanced targeted marketing efforts, the company generated significant momentum in 2015—with net revenues growing nearly 14% and gross profits increasing approximately 19%, compared with year-ago results. This positive momentum continues in 2016.  

    Both of these represent excellent examples of companies that have taken different, yet ultimately successful, paths to growth. Need more ideas on how you can grow your business? Check out the COSE Strategic Planning Course that can show you even more growth strategies that you can begin immediately applying to your business. 


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  • Next up: B2B Expos Offer Value for Your Business

    B2B Expos Offer Value for Your Business

    One of the most dangerous traps a small business owner can face is when they are so focused on operating their business, they can’t get out from behind their own desk. Making your way out into the community to attend events and networking at a business-to-business Expo can help you achieve all your networking goals and more in one day.

    One of the most dangerous traps a small business owner can face is when they are so focused on operating their business, they can’t get out from behind their own desk. Making your way out into the community to attend events and networking at a business-to-business Expo can help you achieve all your networking goals and more in one day. 

    At these expos there are dozens of suppliers in one location and you can use your time at the expo to meet new companies and compare products and prices all in one place. Plus, companies sometimes bring their best deals to the expo because their competitors are stationed in the same room talking to the same potential customers. You will meet many prospective businesses to work with, and at the best offer they’ve got.

    Networking isn’t the only benefit. Expos are great places to learn the newest trends, and what your competitors are offering and businesses will display the newest products and resources available.  Learning the hottest trends helps you stack up against the competition. While you’re there, you can also learn what your competitors are up to. You’ll have a chance to see what their best deal is, and how you can create a better experience for your customers. Attending will give you the insight to make sure your business can stay fresh and stand out.

    Never attended an expo and don’t know where to start? Not to worry: we’ve narrowed it down to five B2B events that you should check out. Whether you are looking to develop business locally, in a nearby town, or across the region, these expos will help you expand your network, increase your supplier diversity, and save some green.

    Cleveland B2B Matchmaker – June 8, 7:00 am – 6:00 pm

    The 11th annual Cleveland Matchmaker Event is a unique small business contracting event, which presents a great opportunity for small businesses to gain access to buyers that represent millions of dollars in purchasing. The goal of the event is to create future contract opportunities for your small business through one-on-one sessions between buyers and sellers.

    Erie County’s Business Connections Expo – April 20, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    Connect with Erie County businesses, and attend free 30-minute seminars will take place covering topics such as Identity Theft, Legal Aid, Credit Card Protection, and Small Business Development Workshop at Erie County’s Business Connections Expo.   Plus, the interactive food stations are included with your ticket. 

    NEO Business Show – May 11, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    The 2016 NEO Business Show is an easy, affordable way to give your company maximum exposure in front of hundreds of people, as well as learn what goods and services are available for your business. This year's show returns to Signature of Solon which offers ample free, convenient parking and is a short drive away anywhere in the area. This event is free to attendees with a business card.

    HRCC’s Business Expo – May 12, 3:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    HRCC’s 22nd annual Business Expo is the region’s most essential business networking event, twice awarded CBC Magazine’s coveted Connectors Choice Award for Best Event by a Networking Organization.  Each year the Expo features approximately 100 businesses, six municipalities, and attracts 700 – 800 attendees.

    Regional Chambers Expo – October 19, 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm

    Regional Chambers Expo 2016 features a unique variety of exhibitors from a diverse area of Northeast Ohio. This year’s Regional Chambers Expo will feature over 75 exhibitors, and attendance is expected exceed past years.  Admission is free when you present your business card.

    Looking for more ways to connect outside of your office? Check out our events page for additional networking and learning events.

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  • Next up: Be Heard on Small Business Saturday

    Be Heard on Small Business Saturday

    Small Business Saturday is almost upon us. On November 26, small businesses across the country will likely see a swarm of shoppers descend on their place of business.

    Small Business Saturday is almost upon us. On November 26, small businesses across the country will likely see a swarm of shoppers descend on their place of business. 

    And just how big will that swarm be? Well, in 2015, an estimated 95 million people went out on the day after Black Friday to support local businesses. And 2016 might be just as big of a year. So, what do you need to do to ensure your small business stands out this year?

    Well, for one the Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce intends to be distributing on social platforms a series of marketing video they shot, depicting what local shoppers are thankful for. These videos will be released one at a time in a buildup to the big day.

    Also, the Lakewood Chamber is promoting its annual Holiday Bid & Buy Online Auction where items are solicited from local businesses to auction off and raise money for our economic development programs. The goal is to use this as a tool to remind people to BUY LOCAL on Small Business Saturday.  

    We want to help you get the word out about your own Small Business Saturday deals. Let me know what special promotions your business plans to feature this year and we’ll promote them on the COSE Twitter account.

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  • Next up: Begging for Biz is NOT how to Grow Share of Wallet

    Begging for Biz is NOT how to Grow Share of Wallet

    Cross-selling, up-selling, probing for needs and more were a few of the pointers Dave Harman from Sandler Sales Training shared with OHTec members last week. And some pretty insightful ideas from Amazon that small tech companies can “borrow” were shared, too. 

    Dave Harman

    Cross-selling, up-selling, probing for needs and more were a few of the pointers Dave Harman from Sandler Sales Training shared with OHTec members last week. And some pretty insightful ideas from Amazon that small tech companies can “borrow” were shared, too. 

    Check out the podcast here.



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  • Next up: Big Night For GOP, Real Impact Unclear

    Big Night For GOP, Real Impact Unclear

    Last night went pretty much as expected for the Republicans as voters expressed their dissatisfaction with the President and set up for a couple of years of potential gridlock in Washington.  While the Republicans now hold majorities in both the House and the Senate, we should not necessarily expect to see massive policy shifts or a full reversal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or other policies already enacted by the President.  

    Last night went pretty much as expected for the Republicans as voters expressed their dissatisfaction with the President and set up for a couple of years of potential gridlock in Washington.  While the Republicans now hold majorities in both the House and the Senate, we should not necessarily expect to see massive policy shifts or a full reversal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or other policies already enacted by the President.  With the majority in the Senate, the Republicans don’t have the votes necessary to enact a repeal of the ACA.  And, truth be told, unwinding the ACA now would be way more complicated than making modifications that will be likely more within reach after the 2016 elections.  

    Here's a recap of some of the key races and issues that were determined this year. 

    Congressional midterm elections

    On the federal level, watching how the Senate leadership unfolds and the strategy they take to represent “new thinking” and “new action” in the Senate while not engaging in the House’s strategy of passing dozens of bills with no hope of enactment is going to be interesting. The game now becomes about 2016 and the White House and a series of steps that will signal “change” while avoiding a demonstration of lots of bluster with no impact.  If the Republicans can show steady progress on important issues and gain the trust of the political middle over the next two years, they help their chances of a 2016 White House and an even stronger majority in the Senate which would be the set up for making real change.

    Read more on the U.S. Congressional midterm elections and get an exclusive opportunity for COSE members, with other small business owners from around the country, to participate in an issue briefing conference call hosted by the National Small Business Association that will outline the meaning of the results and what small business issues lie ahead for Congress.

    Statewide and Ohio General Assembly races

    In Ohio, all was as expected as well.  The federal mood trickled into Ohio and the general good work by Kasich over the last four years combined with a poor Democratic campaign for Governor set up an easy sweep of statewide offices.  The best we can hope for from Columbus is a continued focus on improving the environment for success of our businesses and to continue to do the “right” things for Medicaid expansion, urban wealth development and entrepreneurship, education and regulatory reform.  In the worst case, if the focus of the Governor moves to presidential politics, we’ll miss out on the impact he can have in Ohio to continue the improvement of our state and key issues we face here.  If the Governor can summon the same level of energy and bull headed focus on progress for all of Ohio’s residents as he did in his first four years, we should see continued improvement in our state’s results. 

    Read more about our statewide office holders (Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, State Auditor, State Treasurer) that will assume their posts and their views on the importance of small business.  

    Read more about several current or soon-to-be Ohio General Assembly members and their views on the importance of small business. 

    Local ballot measures

    Levies for Tri-C and the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) were successful.  Perhaps the success of CMSD was the most surprising outcome of the evening.  That levy deserved to win, but many were concerned about how it would fare on the back of the transformation plan voters approved two years ago and voter confusion about how they are connected.  However, progress by the schools under its leader Eric Gordon seemed to be enough so far to merit additional support.  Kudos to the campaign team, Eric and the Greater Cleveland Partnership for doing the heavy lifting on this campaign without a whole lot of overt political support.

    Read more regarding two local ballot measures, the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (CMSD) capital levy and Cuyahoga Community College (Tri-C) operating levy.

    Cuyahoga County Executive 

    In the County Executive’s race, Councilman Jack Schron put up a strong push to communicate his ability to lead.  And, if given the opportunity, there is no doubt he would have been an effective County Executive.  But in Cuyahoga County, everyone understood this race for any Republican was a steep uphill climb.  Former Ohio Speaker of the House and now County Executive-Elect Armond Budish has talked a lot about economic development and the support of small businesses in his speeches and dialogues leading up to this election.  While details and specific approaches have not been outlined, our discussions with him indicate a sincere belief in those issues and a commitment to the county for the long-term that encourage us to work closely with him to realize success in those areas.  This office doesn’t feel like just a “step along the way” for Budish.

    Read more on County Executive-Elect Armond Budish and how he answered the following questions COSE posed to him prior to Election Day:  What initiatives have you led or supported in the past to create a more supportive environment for the success of small business owners? Are there specific small business initiatives that you will pursue moving forward?

    As most elections go, last night was relatively “uneventful” in terms of surprises and twists – however, with the momentum in our region, the challenges in our state and the issues that are important to small businesses, the results are important for the success we can have in creating an environment conducive to your success.

    For complete Election Day coverage, check out the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Overnight Election Report, including results on Ohio's key local, state and federal races.

    The Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) is a member-driven small business organization that advocates for the needs of the small business community and provides support for your achievement of success.  Want to learn more about how you can get involved in COSE small business advocacy efforts?  Call us today at 866-553-5427 or email advocacy@cose.org.


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