JumpStart, which moved its offices to Midtown almost a decade ago, could become an anchor tenant in Wexford’s first building.
CEO Ray Leach described the innovation community in Cleveland as decentralized. With better cooperation in a district designed for interaction, he hopes barriers will fall for businesses, institutions and residents of majority Black, low-income neighborhoods on the city’s East Side.
“I’m envisioning hundreds of millions of dollars of more capital, tens of thousands of jobs, a real ability to make an impact around racial and economic inclusion,” Leach said. “I think this is the kind of project that has to happen in order for us to find new and different ways to collaborate.”
JumpStart is one of five organizations, along with the Cleveland Foundation, the Fund for Our Economic Future, the Greater Cleveland Partnership and Team NEO, steering a broader initiative called the Cleveland Innovation Project. That alliance is attempting to reposition the regional economy, with a focus on health care, smart manufacturing and water technology.
The project’s key goals include developing talent, boosting the flow of private capital to growing businesses and reducing stark gaps in Clevelanders’ digital literacy and internet access.
Midtown is one logical site — though not the only potential location — to concentrate activity in those target industries, said Baiju Shah, senior fellow for innovation at the Cleveland Foundation.
Since the inception of the Health-Tech Corridor, developers in the area have built or renovated more than 1 million square feet of real estate that isn’t tied to hospitals or research institutions.
Anything that Wexford develops must connect “seamlessly” to those existing assets, Shah said, describing a district that should feel cohesive, but not contrived.
“The goal of the district is not to have a company relocate 1,000 jobs from somewhere else,” Osha said. “The goal