Moving Silicon Valley to Cleveland

Dawg Pound

Matthew Yglesias has a provocative column in Slate in which he suggests that some of the Silicon Valley giants like Apple and Google should move to a place like Cleveland. It’s really an indictment on the Valley, particularly the issue of affordable housing. In many ways, Silicon Valley is no longer hospitable for many people and is only exacerbating the divide between the haves and the have-nots.

Meanwhile, places like Cleveland could thrive and grow a substantial startup community if several larger tech companies made a commitment to the region.

Of course Yglesias is just trying to make a point, and many of these companies have a presence several hours away in Coloumbus, but it’s a point worth noting. The large tech companies will need to start thinking about new ways to expand, as the Valley is getting way too crowded.

Will Romney’s dishonest Jeep ads backfire?

The Mitt Romney campaign is arguing that they will win Ohio despite the polls, but it’s hard to believe them given the desperate Jeep ads Romney has been running. The Toledo Blade is one of many news organizations slamming the ads, and they offered up a scathing editorial.

In the fi­nal few days of the pres­i­den­tial con­test, Mitt Rom­ney ev­i­dently rec­og­nizes that his op­po­si­tion to the fed­eral res­cue of Gen­eral Mo­tors and Chrysler is costing him voter sup­port he needs in Ohio and Mich­i­gan. So the Re­pub­li­can nom­i­nee is con­duct­ing an ex­er­cise in de­cep­tion about auto-in­dus­try is­sues that is re­mark­able even by the stan­dards of his cam­paign.

At an ap­pear­ance last week in De­fi­ance, Mr. Rom­ney an­nounced that “Jeep, now owned by the Ital­ians, is think­ing of mov­ing all pro­duc­tion to China.” That as­ser­tion was based on an am­big­u­ously worded news re­port.

Chrysler, which owns Jeep and in which the Ital­ian auto­maker Fiat has a ma­jor­ity stake, quickly de­nied the re­port. A com­pany spokes­man said Mr. Rom­ney’s rhe­tor­i­cal leap “would be dif­fi­cult even for pro­fes­sional cir­cus ac­ro­bats.” But the Rom­ney cam­paign launched an ad in Ohio that claimed that Pres­i­dent Obama, who pre­sided over the auto bail­out, “sold Chrysler to Ital­ians who are go­ing to build Jeeps in China.”

Chrysler CEO Ser­gio Mar­chionne re­moved all doubt about his com­pany’s in­ten­tions this week in an email to em­ploy­ees: “Jeep pro­duc­tion will not be moved from the United States to China,” he said. “Jeep as­sem­bly lines will re­main in op­er­a­tion in the United States and will con­sti­tute the back­bone of the brand. It is in­ac­cu­rate to sug­gest any­thing dif­fer­ent.”

The ads seem to be backfiring. Voters in Ohio aren’t stupid. They follow the auto industry and they know a lie when they hear one.

Ohio unemployment rate is at 7%

The economy is doing much better in Ohio as compared to the rest of the nation, as unemployment is substantially lower at 7%. This is the result of many factors, but the success of the auto bailout is definitely one of the reasons, and that is helping President Obama’s campaign in this important state. But another important factor has to do with fracking, as natural gas drilling is booming in Ohio, and that’s driving a ton of economic activity in industries like steel.

This economic activity and the resurgence of manufacturing is also creating opportunities for entrepreneurs, as more jobs lead to a great need for more services. So all sorts of small businesses can thrive if the manufacturing and fracking boom continues. Bars, restaurants, suppliers, drycleaners – the possibilities are endless. There are many factors, however, to consider. Think about location, as not every part of the state is thriving. There are opportunities in older areas of course, but the approach is much different in those areas. In thriving areas you’ll pay more for rent, but in a growing community this is worth it if you have the startup capital. Also, make sure you have an intelligent marketing strategy. Should you be using social media? Should you be printing your marketing materials, and should you be browsing options like brochure printing to save money? Are TV and radio an option? Many entrepreneurs don’t think through their marketing budgets in advance, so don’t make that mistake.

The key is that these are exciting times in Ohio. Hopefully the trends continue.

Cleveland casino adding more jobs

The new Cleveland casino is scheduled to open in March of 2012, and they’ve already been hiring a training dealers. Now they’re opening up applications for 750 casino positions in 40 different job areas.

There’s a pay range for each position, and starting salaries are listed on the web site. For example, security officers start at $12 an hour, beverage and buffet supervisors at $30,000 a year, and those who oversee slot machines will earn at least $39,000 annually.

Full-time positions offer a complete benefits package, including medical, dental and vision insurance, tuition reimbursement and a 401K retirement plan.

“We’re looking for personality,” said Glover, a Caesars Entertainment Corp. executive. “We’re looking for upbeat and positive attitudes, for people who have an ability to interact with strangers and provide excellent customer service.

“Some of that we’ll train, but we need a lot of those characteristics to be inherent in the individual.”

Clevelanders and other gambling fans in Ohio are naturally thrilled. First, it’s good for the local economy. But more importantly, gambling fans in the state now have another outlet to go with online sports betting.

It took a long time for Ohio to join the party. The conservative forces in Southern Ohio were always against legal gambling and they consistently defeated attempts to bring casinos to Ohio. But Dan Gilbert finally made it happen, so soon we’ll have a grand opening with plenty of economic activity in Downtown Cleveland.

Horse track plan in Dayton?

Penn National Gaming might be adding up to 1,500 jobs in the Dayton area, though it depends on Ohio approval of video lottery terminals. Penn is looking to transform a former Delphi plant in north Dayton into a $200 million horse track and slot machine complex.

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