Working with Israeli bioscience companies was presented as one of the ways in which the northeastern Ohio region companies can boost its economic development, as reflected in an article placed in the Associated Press on January 22, 2003.

ASSOCIATION DESIGNED TO KEEP JOBS IN NORTHEAST OHIO

AKRON, Ohio (AP) – A new economic development association wants to provide business leaders with one-stop shopping for locating or expanding their companies in northeast Ohio.

Team NEO will represent 13 northeast Ohio counties in promoting a regional approach to economic development.

“It’s the most exciting effort in our region’s history for this type of activity,” said H. Peter Burg, chairman and CEO of FirstEnergy Corp.

FirstEnergy and six business organizations have provided $3.4 million to run Team NEO through 2005. The Greater Cleveland Growth Association has provided about half the amount.

Although cities like Cincinnati and Atlanta have organizations that promote regional growth, Team NEO is unique in that it covers three metropolitan areas – Cleveland, Akron and Youngstown, said Edward Hill, professor of economic development at Cleveland State University.

Hill also said Team NEO is unusual because no government money is being used to fund it.
The association’s success will be difficult to measure, Hill said, but the best indicator will likely be how useful it is to business leaders.
“We need one place to introduce companies to the richness of this region,” he said.

Alan Schonberg of the Ohio Israeli Chamber of Commerce has been working to bring Israeli bioscience companies to northeast Ohio. The companies are looking to locate part of their operations overseas to reach the large U.S. consumer market.

Schonberg said Team NEO will help him compete with cities like Boston, San Diego and Atlanta, which are also looking to attract bioscience companies.

“I think it’s a major step forward,” he said. “When you look at 13 counties that join together in a communal effort you have to accomplish a lot more than you can on your own.”
Team NEO is conducting a national search to hire an executive director by April. It’s also working to hire a staff and find a central office location. The staff will include five account managers who will assist company leaders in finding sites where then can locate or expand their businesses.

Team NEO is replacing northeast Ohio’s Regional Business Council, which was focused on public policy rather than recruiting businesses.
The counties covered by Team NEO are Ashtabula, Columbiana, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Mahoning, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Trumbull and Wayne.