Cleveland Chain Reaction Finalists Make Their Pitch

Nineteen hopeful small businesses took one more step forward toward claiming $100,000 in investment from five local investors last week as the Greater Cleveland Partnership hosted Cleveland Chain Reaction’s Business Pitch Round.

Season 2 of Cleveland Chain Reaction—a neighborhood economic development project brought to you by The Greater Cleveland Partnership, its small business program COSE, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Glazen Urban and JumpStart along with media partner WJW Fox 8—selected Old Brooklyn, a city neighborhood south of Downtown on the West Side, to host the project with the goal of matching local investors with local entrepreneurs. 

Over the course of two days July 30-31, the businesses presented their case for why their business is worthy of investment and fielded questions from the investors in attendance. Prior to their appearance at the GCP offices, the entrepreneurs sharpened their business case by completing JumpStart’s small business boot camp.

The 19 companies that stated their case for investment were:

  • Cleveland House Hotels
  • Ellie-May’s Gourmet Cookies
  • Great Lake Outfitters
  • Hatfield’s Goode Grub
  • Her BlueWear Uniforms
  • Immaculate Cleaning Co.
  • iSalon Plus Hair Loss Center
  • JB Grill Soul Food & Catering
  • KinderKits
  • Lake Erie Pet Food Co.
  • Melendez Catering Services, dba La Posada Latin Café & More
  • Old Brooklyn Cheese Company
  • Our Favorite Things Boutique
  • PearlFlower Catering
  • Randy’s Pickles
  • Sidekicks Salsa, LLC
  • Spa Lavender
  • Vino Veritas Cellars
  • Yellowcakeshop Clothing

About Cleveland Chain Reaction

The Cleveland Chain Reaction Project’s mission is to create jobs, investment and prosperity in Cleveland’s neighborhoods while providing education and information for entrepreneurs and aspiring business owners to benefit the community.

The Cleveland Chain Reaction follows in the footsteps of the CNBC/LeBron James “Cleveland Hustles,” a reality television series aired on CNBC in 2016. While inspired by Cleveland Hustles, The Cleveland Chain Reaction is an independent and unrelated effort with some of the same Clevelanders involved to support the continued opportunity that Cleveland Hustles sparked. This project will bring $650,000 to $1 million of direct investment from private investors to an emerging Cleveland neighborhood by locating five new businesses in that neighborhood that can create jobs and prosperity.

The investors involved in the project are:

  • Rick Blaszak: a life-long Clevelander who has started several small businesses in the city, and is excited to explore more ways to attract young, creative entrepreneurs to our urban neighborhoods.
  • Bernie Moreno: an active community member who owns several businesses in Northeast Ohio, primarily in the auto dealership space.
  • Eddie Ni: an entrepreneur specializing in commercial real estate development, retail, import/ export, manufacturing and kitchen cabinetry wholesale businesses. He wants to provide more business opportunities for people in the community.
  • Vanessa Whiting: an attorney finessed on affordable housing and community development law. She owns 15 Popeye’s franchises, loves Cleveland, its people and its neighborhoods.
  • Dan Zelman: a local entrepreneur who is excited to help foster growth in a neighborhood that needs it.

Stay tuned over the course of the next couple of weeks as we provide you with a closer look at the businesses vying for the $100,000 investment and the lessons they’ve learned while going through the process.


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  • Next up: Cleveland Chain Reaction Launches in Old Brooklyn
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  • Cleveland Chain Reaction Launches in Old Brooklyn

    Season 2 of Cleveland Chain Reaction—a neighborhood economic development project brought to you by The Greater Cleveland Partnership, its small business program COSE, Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, Glazen Urban and JumpStart along with media partner WJW Fox 8—is taking shape. Old Brooklyn, a city neighborhood south of Downtown on the west side, will host the project with the goal of matching local investors with local entrepreneurs. By December 2018, Chain Reaction aims to have five new businesses preparing to open in the neighborhood. Old Brooklyn was selected from a group of four neighborhood finalists, which also included Midtown, Shaker Square/Larchmere and Collinwood.

    Five local investors have also committed to the second Chain Reaction season. These city advocates have each pledged $100,000 to invest in local scale-up businesses. Collectively, the five new businesses that open during the project will bring jobs and additional economic activity to the Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Meet our five investors:

    • Rick Blaszak is a life-long Clevelander who has started several small businesses in the city, and is excited to explore more ways to attract young, creative entrepreneurs to our urban neighborhoods.
    • Bernie Moreno is a very active community member who owns several businesses in Northeast Ohio, primarily in the auto dealership space.
    • Eddie Ni is an entrepreneur specializing in commercial real estate development, retail, import/ export, manufacturing and kitchen cabinetry wholesale businesses. He wants to provide more business opportunities for people in the community.
    • Vanessa Whiting is an attorney finessed on affordable housing and community development law. She owns 15 Popeye’s franchises, loves Cleveland, its people and its neighborhoods.
    • Dan Zelman is a local entrepreneur and is excited to help foster growth in a neighborhood that needs it.

    Steve Millard, Executive Director of COSE, stated, “Chain Reaction is a one of a kind opportunity for small business owners to get in front of willing, patient investors that believe in their idea and their plan for one of Cleveland’s key neighborhoods. The most important thing right now is to get small business owners to throw their hat in the ring to be considered to pitch to our investors.”

    Cleveland Chain Reaction is now accepting applications for businesses who are interested in being considered as one of the final five companies who will work with our investors to build a new business in Cleveland’s Old Brooklyn neighborhood. Applications are available at www.ClevelandChainReaction.org and will be accepted through June 8, 2018.

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  • Next up: Cleveland Development Advisors Gets $60M Award to Spur Economic Growth
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  • Cleveland Development Advisors Gets $60M Award to Spur Economic Growth

    The positive momentum in Cleveland is expected to continue as the region received a $60-million federal tax incentive that will help drive new projects in the city estimated to be valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The positive momentum in Cleveland is expected to continue as the region received a $60-million federal tax incentive that will help drive new projects in the city estimated to be valued at hundreds of millions of dollars.

    The award of federal New Market Tax Credits to Cleveland Development Advisors (CDA)—an affiliate of the Greater Cleveland Partnership—is an invaluable leveraging tool in advancing the city’s revitalization. The tax credits are used to attract private investment needed to complete catalytic projects that create positive economic impacts in Low Income Communities, including workforce development, quality employment and neighborhood revitalization. CDA had been awarded $215 million since the program’s inception. Of 238 applicants, just 120 were awarded the tax credits from the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

    The New Markets Tax Credit is an incredibly important economic development tool that has already helped so many people in this community and has given such traction to Cleveland’s renaissance,” says Yvette Ittu, President of CDA. “We intend to continue this momentum. There is so much more to do. CDA is geared up to continue to catalyze developments that create jobs, grow businesses and have a significant impact on the lives of those in our community.”

    CDA has utilized $155 million in prior allocations to spur more than $796 million in investment in Cleveland, financing 36 projects resulting in more than 5,000 permanent jobs, 1,104 housing units and more than 2.6 million square feet of commercial space.

    ‘It’s an Exciting Time for Cleveland’

    CDA will collaborate with the city and other partners to use the tax credits on strategic projects that result in catalytic developments that revitalize the city’s core, enable business attraction and expansion, advance community initiatives and meet neighborhood needs.

    Some of the projects where CDA has used the tax credits include The Snavely Group's $60-million redevelopment of the northwest corner of West 25th Street and Detroit Avenue, where the Music Settlement will be joined by apartments, a small grocery store and other commercial tenants. Other projects include Lincoln Electric's new welding technology center in Euclid and a new Saint Martin de Porres high school in Cleveland's St. Clair-Superior neighborhood.

    The award will be instrumental in helping to continue the city’s revitalization, says GCP President and CEO Joe Roman. “It’s an exciting time for Cleveland and our region has made incredible strides over the last few years, but we certainly can’t stop there,” Roman says. “The $60 million in federal tax credits will help us to continue this positive momentum well into the future.”

    Elected Officials Reaction

    Several elected officials from around Ohio chimed in with their thoughts on the news.

    • “Community development entities across Ohio are working to spur growth in our communities and the New Market Tax Credit gives them the boost they need to attract private investment. This credit will give the Cleveland New Markets Investment Fund the ability to create jobs and lift up the local economy.”—U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown.
    • “This award will allow Cleveland Development Advisors to build on their great work of encouraging more economic development in Northeast Ohio. I look forward to seeing the commercial development, neighborhood revitalization, and additional job opportunities for those in need that will result from more of their New Markets Tax Credit projects materializing.”—U.S. Senator Rob Portman
    • “Simply put, New Market Tax Credits work. I applaud the Greater Cleveland Partnership for their continued commitment to our communities through NMTCs and will continue to advocate for this critical economic development tool."—Congresswoman Marcia Fudge
    • “Encouraging private investors to help businesses and local communities is an effective and innovative way to rebuild the country's economy. New Market Tax Credits allows businesses, communities, and investors to work together and will have a positive impact on the Northeast Ohio region as a whole."—Congressman David Joyce
    • “The Greater Cleveland Partnership has been a leader in revitalizing the Northeast Ohio community and its economy. With the announcement of the $60-million New Market Tax Credit, they can continue to make strategic investments in Cleveland neighborhoods, making it one of the best areas in the country to live and work. I congratulate GCP on the award and thank them for investing so much time and effort into Northeast Ohio.”—Congressman Bob Gibbs
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  • Next up: Cleveland-Only Minimum Wage Increase Effort—Opposed by GCP—Suspended
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  • Cleveland-Only Minimum Wage Increase Effort—Opposed by GCP—Suspended

    An initiative proposing a Cleveland-only minimum wage increase was brought forward months ago, which would have phased in a $15-an-hour minimum wage (starting with $12 an hour in January 2018) while the rest of the state remained at $8.15

    An initiative proposing a Cleveland-only minimum wage increase was brought forward months ago, which would have phased in a $15-an-hour minimum wage (starting with $12 an hour in January 2018) while the rest of the state remained at $8.15.

    The Greater Cleveland Partnership and its partners advocated for state intervention and opposed this misguided local minimum wage ballot issue because it would place the City of Cleveland at a disadvantage, hinder job creation, business growth, and the overall momentum the city is now experiencing.

    In late December, state legislation – Senate Bill 331 – passed and was signed by the Governor that prohibits Cleveland and other political subdivisions from establishing minimum wage rates different from the rate required by state law.  

    Petitioners announced this week that they are suspending their effort to raise the minimum wage in Cleveland but will continue advocating for a statewide effort to raise the minimum wage.

    Learn more about the advocacy efforts of COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

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  • Next up: Cloud Computing: 3 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Make the Move
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  • Cloud Computing: 3 Things to Keep in Mind Before You Make the Move

    Cloud-based computing has become a major factor for businesses recently as CIOs and other IT professionals plan their long-term technology strategies. In fact, according to LogicMonitor’s Cloud Vision 2020 study, some 83% of enterprise workloads will be cloud-based by 2020.

    There are good reasons why businesses are becoming more interested in what the cloud can offer. The ability to access data from anywhere, enhanced disaster recovery capabilities, increased flexibility, the ability to be elastic and scale as needed as the business grows, the reduction of IT infrastructure costs, and a lessening of the burden placed on IT staffs are all helping to drive this migration to the cloud.

    But there are things companies should know prior to making the decision to go with cloud computing. We sat down recently with Peruri Srinivasulu, the CEO and principal architect of Krish Services Group, which in 2016 was awarded a Family Business Achievement Award from Smart Business and is a Gold Microsoft Partner in Application Development and is a Silver Microsoft Partner in Collaboration and Content as well as having deep experience in Microsoft Azure applications. Peruri laid out the three crucial things these businesses should keep in mind to ensure they are properly leveraging the cloud.

    1. Think strategically about how you will use Microsoft Office 365 and Azure

    Making a migration to the cloud could be a great opportunity for IT executives to take a step back and review their information systems as a whole and modernize their enterprise applications..

    One way to do this, Peruri says, could be to leverage Office 365 and Azure cloud services to enhance and power applications. For example, artificial intelligence and natural language processing can be incorporated into internal apps in the form of chatbots, which is an emerging area of AI in which Krish is experienced. As an example, companies could think about the amount of time their staff spends checking inventory following a customer product request. Instead of navigating through ERP and CRM systems, the employee could simply ask the bot the request using conversational text.

    2. Understand Microsoft Office 365 cloud services and tools you already have

    There is a very good chance businesses have programs that are optimized for cloud use that they are not using, says Peruri. This includes Microsoft Office 365collaboration tools , such as Teams, SharePoint, Flow, and PowerApps

    “Once they’re in the cloud, companies have all of these features turned on,” Peruri says. “There’s a lot of horsepower at their fingertips and companies are trying to sort that out.”

    3. Find a partner

    Going it alone, especially for a small- or mid-sized business, can be a tricky endeavor, Peruri cautions. The cloud is complex with a lot of moving parts and so it can help to have a partner there with you to help automate processes, design portals and collaboration spaces for teams, track data, etc. It’s important to partner with a firm that has deep experience in cloud-based services and also has Microsoft Certifications in such areas as Application Development and Collaboration and Content.

    Tim Hopkins, CEO at MedApproved, also attests to the power of partnering with a trusted firm.

    “Krish Services has been our trusted technology partner for more than three years. They’ve provided a consultative approach to fully understand our specific needs and have the resources to meet our specifications,” he says. “The team is professional, easy to work with and produces the highest quality work. We’ve experienced working with other groups in the past and we couldn’t be happier to have Krish as our long-term technology partner.

    Founded in 2011, Krish Services Group’s goal is to provide end-to-end services designed to help solve business challenges with innovative software solutions and be a trusted advisor for their clients. Learn more about Krish Services Group by clicking here.

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  • Next up: Club Seat Tables at the Bridgestone Invitational
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  • Club Seat Tables at the Bridgestone Invitational

    The eyes of the golf world will once again fixate on Akron, Ohio, and Firestone Country Club’s South Course Aug. 1-5 as the game’s top players reunite for the World Golf Championships-Bridgestone Invitational. The 2018 tournament marks the 65th anniversary of professional golf at Firestone Country Club, a history that has seen legends of the game like Nicklaus, Watson and Norman all lift trophies in Northeast Ohio. All of the top 50 players in the Official World Golf Ranking are expected to compete in the season’s final World Golf Championships event, which will be defended by Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, whose final-round record 61 led to a five-stroke victory in 2017.

    There’s no better way to catch the action at the tournament than with your private, reserved Club Seat Tables. Whether you are entertaining your biggest customers and prospects or rewarding your employees, this unique experience is sure to have them on the edge of their seats as they sit greenside, sipping drinks and watching their favorite players. To learn more, please reach out to Alexandriagrilliot@pgatourhq.com or 330-245-2307.

    Weekly ULTRA Club 10 ticket package

    The all-new ULTRA Club is a premium hospitality venue, located on Firestone’s Signature 16th hole, “The Monster”, that gives fans an opportunity to watch the world’s best players go up against the longest par 5 on the PGA TOUR. With 10 ULTRA Club tickets per day, Wednesday – Sunday, each ticket holder (21 & over) will receive a complimentary Michelob Ultra AND receive two (2) weekly Lot 10 parking passes PLUS the opportunity for a foursome to play the Firestone South Course for $160 per person on August 7, 2018. The weekly ULTRA Club 10 pack is available for only $2300. 

    Offer valid through June 30, limited quantities remain.

    BUY NOW or call 330-245-2307

    Daily ULTRA Club 10 ticket package

    Can’t commit to the full week. We’ve got you covered! The ULTRA Club 10 pack single day tickets are also available for the day of your choice for $1,250.

    BUY NOW or call 330-245-2307


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