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Beachwood Officials Discuss Long-Term Economic Development Goals

Down the line, partnerships and an entrepreneurial center could be established as part of the city's economic development incentive framework

In discussing Beachwood's desire to incentivize companies into doing business in the city, Economic Development Director Jim Doutt revealed some long-term goals this week to compliment the city's immediate hopes.

While Doutt and other officials believe tools like a job creation incentive program should be developed quickly, an entrepreneurial center would be advantageous but take some time to create.

"We need to do this in small steps and phases," Doutt said. "We can't go in and try to fill a space of 100,000 square feet, but I can think of a couple spots down in Commerce Park ... smaller spaces that could be re-purposed and used as an entrepreneurial center for startups, could modeled as an accelerator for companies that are ready to go commercial, and it could be used as a co-working space."

Doutt said co-working spaces are a phenomenon of the past decade in Northeast Ohio. A nearby example is the Shaker LaunchHouse. Developing an entreprenurial center was among the suggestions of the SZD Whiteboard study that council viewed in 2011. Doutt said such a center could be a "strategic anchor for rejuvenation of Commerce Park."

Doutt is also interested in developing an investment partnership similar to the Greator Akron Investment Partnership, which was established in 2006. Akron partnered with local angel investors to accelerate the entry of Israeli companies into that city.

"This is one of the tools that I thought if we were to do something like this, locally, we could it so it's used exclusively for the attraction of Israeli companies," Doutt said.

The economic development director also said Beachwood should look for venture capital opportunities in the long term. He said the days of venture capitalism remaining on the West Coast are long gone.

"In 2007 to 2011, nearly $1 billion — that's with a 'B' — was invested in Greater Cleveland companies," he said. "We need to make (venture capitalists) aware of what we've got going on in Beachwood."

He said the same for organizations like BioEnterprise. The city joined bioscience accelerator BioOhio this summer.

"They're both there for the sole reason of assisting communities in bringing to them a network of introductions that can be very helpful to them," Doutt said. "It's all about building those relationships."

Of JobsOhio and the state Department of Development, Doutt said: "We have to be in front of those people."

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