County Executive Armond Budish delivered the annual State of the County Address at the Cleveland Convention Center on Thursday April 22.
Speaking before county wide stake holders and regional leaders at the Convention Center's grand ballroom Budish outlined goals and pointed out he progress the county has made during the year, but also urged that much more need s to be done.
Among the highlights was the video presentation where people in downtown Cleveland were ask what they thought the County Executive did. As Budish has often stated few if any had a idea.
"Stuff with land permits?" One man hypothesized.
Mayor Frank Jackson was even questioned : "That's a good question," he said.
"The county charter makes it clear that this new county government must promote economic well-being and prosperity throughout the county," Budish said.
LIBRARY INNOVATION CENTERS:
Opening innovation centers was one of six initiatives that Budish announced at last year's SOTC. One of the three proposed centers opened in February at the Garfield Heights branch of the Cuyahoga County public library.
Budish hailed the centers the "first step on a continuum for an innovation culture." It's a place with "huge, wonderful, amazing machines" where people can get their business ideas off the ground for free, he said.
Budish pointed the $4.5 million the County has loaned to JumpStart in support of three venture capital funds.
The most unique and exciting of the funds, though, might be the Focus Fund, which specifically seeks to invest in start-ups run by women and minorities. Those awarded funding have to relocate to Ohio.
SMALL BUSINESS FUNDING: Budish announced that the County has invested in ECDI, a Columbus-based micro-lending agency with a Cleveland office. Budish said the loan has helped 56 companies and helped create 128 jobs.
THE CONNECTATHON: Budish spoke of the Global Center for Health Innovation. He cited the Connectathon as an example of the Global Center's capacity to bring top-notch programming, not just companies, to Cleveland.
In one of the speech's major announcements, Budish said the Global Center would also be partnering with the Mt. Sinai Foundation to sponsor the Rising Star Awards, a "new business plan" competition that will net the winner a cash prize, space at the Global Center, and mentoring from current Global Center tenants and partners.
UNIVERSAL PRE-K: In what was surely the biggest announcement of the afternoon, Budish said that he and county council had managed to lock down an additional $10 million in the most recent budget for high quality pre-kindergarten education (over and above the $9 million already budgeted). And beyond, that, thanks to the PNC's Regional Director Paul Clark, private parties chipped in an additional $12 million. This extra funding will allow the county to more than double the number of children served by pre-K, from 2,000 to more than 4,000.
RE-ENTRY SERVICES: Budish announced that that county had established a comprehensive re-entry program at the Euclid Jail (which the county runs) in collaboration with Brandon Chrostowski and the EDWINS leadership institute. Budish said that he wants prisoners to have the tools and resources to get not only a first job, but a second and a third.
"I should amend my priorities from jobs jobs jobs to careers careers careers," he said.
FAMILY REUNIONS: Budish touted the compassion and successful work of the Health and Human Services department. In 2015, the county reunited 425 children with their parents, Budish said, the most in recent years.