5 Takeaways from COSE's Annual Meeting

Shawn Turner |

Hundreds of COSE members attended the 2016 version of the COSE Annual Meeting on February 24 at the Near West Theatre. Here are five takeaways from the meeting they walked away with:

1) Meet COSE's new Chairman, Mike Stanek

Mike Stanek, CFO of Hunt Imaging, was introduced as the new chairman of COSE for 2016 and 2017. He follows Rion Safier in that role. In remarks to the hundreds of people in attendance, Stanek said his goals for COSE are four-fold:

  • Increased member engagement and participation

Stanek said he would like to get more members involved in the organization. This extends to not only the programs and resources COSE provides, but also in COSE’s work with the Greater Cleveland Partnership to ensure the voice and needs of small business are front and center.

  • Expansion of COSE’s regional footprint

Deeper involvement from all across the region is imperative, he said. Two years from now, Stanek said he would like to see COSE doing more in the broader regional footprint of Northeast Ohio.

  • Adjusting the mix of support and services

As COSE’s small businesses change, so too must COSE adjust the programs and services that are offered. Stanek pledged to tap into members’ insights to find the most significant areas where COSE can be a difference-maker.

  • Stay fresh and exciting

Everything COSE does should be exciting and fresh, he said. He understands member time is valuable and COSE’s staff wants to ensure that when that time is spent with the organization, the member walks away feeling good about their involvement.

2) Recognizing Rion Safier

Before turning over the COSE reins to Stanek, Safier was recognized as the departing chairman of COSE. During his tenure as chairman, he said the organization has done a good job of getting members and leaders more involved as small business advocates and continuing to build strong partnerships across the state to best serve small businesses.

He said the groundwork has been laid for closer collaboration with the Greater Cleveland Partnership, and as such this closer alignment will create additional connectivity across the business community and create more of a benefit for the voice and role of small business in the work that is done in this region. What is remaining the same, he said, is the intense focus COSE will continue to have on small businesses.

3) 2015 Volunteer Service Award

The 2015 Volunteer Service Award was presented to Toby Heintzelman of Driftwood Restaurant Group. Heintzelman was instrumental in initiating action by COSE to get a new law passed by state government that will more effectively protect small business owners from workers compensation successor liability. The law requires the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to reduce or eliminate the transfer of a negative experience to a successor employer under certain circumstances. This legislation paves the way for relief for small business owners who are often unknowingly impacted until it’s too late. 

4) Staff Service Award

Steve Millard, the President and Executive Director of COSE, presented the 2015 Staff Service Award to Adina Magda, Events Manager for COSE. In her role, Magda is charged with creating effective, enjoyable experiences for COSE members through events such as the annual Small Business Convention, OHTec’s Tech Week, and many others. 

5) What to watch in 2016

Millard closed the meeting by pointing out five things members should keep an eye on as we move through 2016.

  • COSE Health and Wellness Trust

This is a self-funded option that allows for flexibility of benefit options, provides rate stability and holds financial benefits designed exclusively by COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership. COSE’s goal is to provide this new multiple employer health plan by mid-summer. The trust is not subject to some state health insurance regulations/benefit mandates. Therefore, the benefit options may be less expensive. COSE’s health insurance partner Medical Mutual will administer the plan’s benefits. The trust is still pending approval from the Ohio Department of Insurance.

  • Continued partnership with the GCP

There are many issues the business community faces together. Going forward, COSE and the GCP will work more closely together to connect small, mid-market and large and tech-focused businesses to help create more opportunities for connection.

The COSE Expert Network is a resource that connects small businesses with other small business experts in fields such as marketing, HR, IT and others. COSE is continuing to recruit more experts to this network and create heightened visibility of the resource to support the small business community.

  • HR and marketing solutions

COSE will roll out a variety of new resources in these two highly important areas for small business in the next couple of months.

  • COSE Small Business Investor Network: 

This network, comprised of small business leaders, will, over the next year, cover the full geography of Northeast Ohio. It will be a sounding board, voice and source of insight for COSE’s work and to represent the needs of small business owners in the region.

Thank you to everyone who attended Annual Meeting. We look forward to continue to work with you in pursuit of the growth and success of your business in the year ahead.