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Morning Buzz at Hilton & Dead Last at City Club

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On Friday, June 8, we first went to a Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce Morning Buzz at the Hilton Garden Inn, which offered an excellent speaker as well as fine networking combined with good food for breakfast.

The excellent speaker was Mr. Ian Schwarber, Chief Strategy Officer for DriveIT: A Gym Membership for Your Career, which uses growth-oriented experiential learning as a teaching method for high-tech professionals who might take part in its problem-solving exercises two times a week.

Mr. Schwarber explained to us (with the help of slides) that experiential learning is a process of developing skills and knowledge through direct experience and reflection on experiences. Among its benefits are skill development at a faster rate and culture building amongst those who work together on exercises. Issues that Mr. Schwarber also addressed were why such training is a critical investment for "digital workforce transformation" and which skill sets are showing the largest return on investment.

While we were there we learned that Mr. Steve Millard, formerly of COSE and the Greater Cleveland Partnership, just became the President and CEO of the Greater Akron Chamber of Commerce.

During networking, we spoke to Mr. Bryan A. McGown of NEOVETS, Inc., whose mission is to serve "military families by connecting them to proven, best-in-class community resources and information ensuring their success while supporting the employers we serve."

Mr. McGown served in the U.S. Marine Corps (and received many honors during his tenure) so we told him about meeting General James L. Jones, Jr., former Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, earlier in the week at the Happy Dog program.

At the Morning Buzz we also met Mr. Sean Cemm, a Realtor with Re/Max Edge Realty. Mr. Cemm immigrated to the United States some 20 years ago from England with the help of Ms. Wong.

Later that morning, we went to the City Club where we spoke with another person from England, Mr. Kain Melville, who once had a consultation with Ms. Wong. Mr. Melville has been residing in the United States for over six years now and hopes to remain here, so we wish him the best.

Along these lines, we talked to Mr. Eduardo Gonzalez, President of the Ferragon Corporation, who has worked with Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC several times; in fact, at this time there are representatives of 21 different immigrant communities working for his company.

The City Club program that we were all there for was titled "Dead Last: Northeast Ohio's Economy is Lagging and It's Time to Do Something About It." The key speaker was Mr. Jon J. Pinney, managing partner at Kohrman, Jackson, and Krantz.

According to the program notes, Mr. Pinney, one of the chief architects of Cleveland's successful effort to host the RNC, "has emerged as a voice for a unified regional response to reversing negative economic trends." In a recent column for Smart Business, Pinney noted, 'Cincinnati, meanwhile is growing so fast it has supplanted Cleveland as the largest metropolitan economy in the state, as measured by GDP. Columbus has passed us by as well, making Cleveland only the third-largest economy in the state'. In a subsequent column, he called for a regional economic summit and a strategic plan to address our lagging economy.

What we took from his talk which, in our opinion, was refreshingly gutsy was that Northeast Ohio is hampered by an "egosystem" of individual interests that must come together to form an "ecosystem" that must agree on a certain decorum and then go on from there to achieve what Mr. Pinney termed "alignment".

One point he made that certainly deserves consideration is that forces in other cities/geographic areas work together in efforts to retain their young college graduates, which keeps the population from diminishing, as unfortunately is the case in Cleveland/Northeast Ohio. What Mr. Pinney said about this touched Mr. Joe Cimperman, President of Global Cleveland, as much as it did us, which we were happy about because we believe Mr. Cimperman would be an ideal choice to head an effort to retain international students.

At the end of his presentation, Mr. Pinney received a much-deserved standing ovation from all of us present. And our good friend, Dr. Akram Boutros, President and CEO of The MetroHealth System, spoke for all of us when he asked, "How do I get on board?"


Michael Patterson

Community Liaison

Margaret W. Wong & Associates LLC

Kwasi Bediako