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Eastern Lake County Coffee Contacts; City Club With Mr. Brad Stone; The New American Heartland

On Thursday, May 18th, our first event was an Eastern Lake County "Coffee Contacts" held at "Bella Donna Salon and Spa" on Main Street in Painesville which has been at that location (or just a few doors down) for thirty years now.

Its owner Ms. Mary Jo Miller was introduced by Ms. Sherri Trivisonno, the coordinator of "Coffee Contacts" as "a staple in the community...everyone looks up to her!"

Accordingly, the rest of our day concerned entrepreneurism and its ability to impact a community if not a region via two City Club programs.

First of all, we went to the noon program at the City Club which featured Mr. Brad Stone, Senior Executive Editor for technology at "Bloomberg News" and author of "The Upstarts; How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley are Changing the World" being interviewed by Ms. Amy Eddings of WCPN's "Morning Edition".

Mr. Stone talked about how both Uber and Airbnb came to be founded and how they revolutionized the transportation and hospitality industries. Particularly, he focused on the bold chances taken by Mr. Travis Kalanick (Uber) and Mr. Brian Chesky (Airbnb) and how both of them may have ultimately changed cities and regions for the better.

Mr. Stone was introduced by Professor Michael Goldberg from the Weatherhood School of Management at CWRU who has known Mr. Stone for most of his life.

Among the other points that were made during Mr. Stone's conversation with Ms. Edding were:

***Uber and Airbnb were risky ventures for the people who used them as well as their founders because they involved riding in a stranger's car and staying at a stranger's home.

***At least in the beginning, both circumvented many health and safety and minimum wage regulations which got them into trouble thus forcing them to evolve in these areas. At the same time, hopefully, government now sees the need to adapt regulations to ever-changing technologies.

***Why it is necessary to achieve the right balance between "ruthlessness and idealism" which are the necessary elements of many innovative projects.

But, as is the situation now, during the Q and A one questioner mentioned that she would much rather now call Uber than call a taxi.

Afterwards, we talked to Mr. Stone and he agreed with us that immigrant entrepreneurs are often very much in same league as Mr. Kalanick and Mr. Chesky because they are visionaries who are willing to risk all to achieve their dreams. Accordingly, he wished that President Trump would adopt a more positive posture regarding H1B visas and immigrants in general.

Later in the day, we went to the Global Center for Health Innovation to attend a three-pronged City Club program on "The New American Heartland" which featured two speakers and a panel discussion.

Before we go further, in the context of this program the heartland was defined as most of the United States between the Rocky Mountains and the Appalachians which takes in more that twenty states including Ohio.

The keynote speaker was Mr. J.D. Vance the author of the bestselling "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis" who talked about his background growing up in an impoverished region of Appalachian Ohio and the circumstances that led him to write his book. He himself was one of the very few in his area to rise above his humble circumstances and eventually attend Yale.

He believed that both the right and the left were partially right when they say that poverty is both a structural problem and one involving poor personal choices. The main issue, however, is the life of a community itself and how all of its components(businesses, churches, unions, schools government) must ultimately come together into a whole and if they do not, the entire organism is threatened.

 

What's more, jobs are not just a matter of wages it is the ability to take pride in one's work and believe that one has accomplished somethings at the end of the day that he/she can be proud of. The big problem was not that old jobs were leaving it was that new jobs were not replacing them and he sincerely believed that start-ups were a vital part of the answer to creating economic opportunity and excitement about the heartland.

 

Just as we had done earlier at the City Club with Mr. Stone, we asked Mr. Vance if he felt believed immigrant entrepreneurs could be a vital resource for these impoverished areas and he indicated that they certainly have the potential to be for the much the same reason as Mr. Stone gave; immigrants have risked a lot to immigrate to the U.S. which prepared them to risk again to achieve their dreams. According to him, though, one of the problems is that many of the high-skilled immigrants do not settle in the heartland but tend to be drawn to operations in high-tech areas like Silicon Valley. Nevertheless, he was definitely on the same page that we are when he mentioned that a particular challenge facing new and/or prospective immigrants is that many of the laws pertaining to immigration are outdated.

The next speaker was Mr. Michael Lind, Co-Founder and Senior Fellow of "New America" who talked about a report that he had co-authored with Mr. Joel Kotkin, Executive Director of the "Center for Opportunity Urbanism", entitled "The New American Heartland: Renewing the Middle Class by Revitalizing Middle America" which was published by the Center itself. Copies were distributed to all of the attendees and we saw that it was divided into sections which dealt with such issues as the geography of the New American Heartland, the New Heartland and the geography of the tradable economy, the revival of Heartland urbanism, and policies for the New American Heartland.

When Mr. Lind had completed his presentation, Mr. Kotkin moderated a discussion consisting of Mr. Michael Hecht, President and CEO of "Greater New Orleans, Inc.; Ms. India Pierce Lee, Chair, Visiting Committee, CSU Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs; Mr. Rick Platt, President and CEO, Heath-Newark-Licking County Port Authority; Mr. Aaron M. Renn, Senior Fellow, "Manhattan Institute for Policy Research"; Mr. Pete Saunders, Urban Affairs Contributor, "Forbes"; and Mr. Mark Schill, Vice President of Research, "Praxis Strategy Group".

Later we reviewed the report and read, "The New American Heartland is rich in assets; population, resources, agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure. But if the Heartland is to achieve its full potential as an engine of American and global economic growth in the twenty-first century, these assets must be entirely put in play. The first step toward a comprehensive strategy is to begin thinking of the New American Heartland as a semi-continental 'super region' including a number of conventional multi-city 'megaregions' like the Texas Triangle....Economic development should be as 'bottom up' as possible, and preferably driven by the state and local governments with appropriate federal support. To succeed, bottom-up economic development needs to be based on a sound understanding of the strengthens of a particular area."

What we really liked about the City Club presentations was the chance to mingle with some very fine people who included:

***Mr. Gary Rand whose family founded "Ohio Knitting Mills" on 61st between Euclid and Chester back in 1927. It finally closed in 2004 but throughout the course of its existence it provided many jobs to people who had immigrated to the United States from different countries, depending on the time period.

***Mr. Rob Gilmore from the law firm of "Kohrman, Jackson, and Krantz" which has referred quite a few cases to "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" over the years. His son, Mr. Andrew Gilmore, recently won the annual 2017 City Club High School debate which we attended.

***Ms. Alicya Lloyd who was sitting at the "Global Cleveland" table during the "Heartland" discussion. Initially Ms. Lloyd immigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad and then lived in Massachusetts before settling in Cleveland to be with her family. We had a lovely time talking with her. We told her about "Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy" and she was eager to visit it because she loves working with young people.

***Mr. Phillip Hedayatnia, a young entrepreneur who founded "Solverlabs" wherein, as its website indicates, students can "find real-world design problems submitted by companies, nonprofits, and charities and solve them. These aren't 'toy problems' or case studies-they're real problems submitted by real companies that may implement the solution you make." We talked to Mr. Hedayatnia about his background; he is the first generation child of immigrants and he believes that what his parents went through to come to the U.S. inspired him to realize his potential to the fullest.

***Mr. Rob Gilmore from the law firm of "Kohrman, Jackson, and Krantz" which has referred quite a few cases to "Margaret W. Wong & Associates" over the years. His son, Mr. Andrew Gilmore, recently won the annual 2017 City Club High School debate which we attended.

***Ms. Alicya Lloyd who was sitting at the "Global Cleveland" table during the "Heartland" discussion. Initially Ms. Lloyd immigrated to the U.S. from Trinidad and then lived in Massachusetts before settling in Cleveland to be with her family. We had a lovely time talking with her. We told her about "Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy" and she was eager to visit it because she loves working with young people.

***Mr. Phillip Hedayatnia, a young entrepreneur who founded "Solverlabs" wherein, as its website indicates, students can "find real-world design problems submitted by companies, nonprofits, and charities and solve them. These aren't 'toy problems' or case studies-they're real problems submitted by real companies that may implement the solution you make." We talked to Mr. Hedayatnia about his background; he is the first generation child of immigrants and he believes that what his parents went through to come to the U.S. inspired him to realize his potential to the fullest.

By:

Michael Patterson

Community Liaison,

Margaret W. Wong & Assoc. Co., LLC