Growth on the Lake: The Power of Green Technology

Over the last couple of years Cleveland has really done a lot to change outsiders’ perception of the city. No longer is the city referred to as the ‘Mistake on the Lake’. In fact, recently I was on an Amtrak train traveling from Washington DC to Baltimore, and in the seat pocket was “The National”, Amtrak’s onboard magazine. And on the front cover of the National was a gorgeous plate of food and the caption “Next Stop: Cleveland – A booming food scene is helping this postindustrial city shake off the rust”. The six-page cover story featured Cleveland’s hippest neighborhoods, celebrity chefs and their restaurants.

After reading the article, I thought to myself, Cleveland really has a lot going for it – exceptional museums, cool neighborhoods, world class healthcare, it has the 2nd largest theater district in the country, stellar higher educational institutions, home of big budget film productions and a championship sports team. And on top of all that, Cleveland is becoming known for making real advances in green technology.

Lake Erie TurbineCleveland, like most metropolitan cities has its environmental issues, whether that be runoff from urban fields or commercial sites contaminated by prior use or contaminated sediments at the bottom of Lake Erie. Cleveland is starting to find unique solutions for these issues.

One of the region’s greatest assets is the Great Lakes, which provide freshwater for drinking, transportation, power and recreation. And 21% of the world’s supply of freshwater comes from the Great Lakes.

So, I am happy that the U.S Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) and the Ohio EPA are working together to find a better solution for where to put the sediment dredged from Lake Erie, a solution that does not include dumping the sediment back into Lake Erie. Recently, it was reported that they are exploring the solution that the Port of Cleveland is using to re-purpose sediment. The Port contracts with a supplier that recycles the dredged sediment and uses some to restore wetlands near the harbors being dredged and sells some of the clean sediment to construction companies to use on their sites. Re-purposing prevented the need to build a containment dike, thus saving the Port of Cleveland $150 million.

Another green technology project in development is the placing of six (6) 3.45-megawatt wind turbines eight miles off the shore of Lake Erie. The goal of putting wind turbines in Lake Erie is to funnel renewable energy into Cleveland’s Public Power infrastructure, enough to generate energy to power 7,000 homes.

Initiatives like these are exciting to see as they build on Cleveland’s strong science and technology competency and continues to diversify the area’s economy. A diversified economy attracts diverse talent from all over the world. The need for more talent can help to increase the area’s population and ultimately increases the need for housing, retail and infrastructure development. All of which are things needed for a thriving city. It’s nice to see ‘Growth on the Lake’.

I’m Ready! Are You Ready for Some Football?

It’s that time of year again. Tonight is the official kick-off of the NFL season with the Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos hosting the Carolina Panthers at the Mile High Stadium.

And after the excitement of the Cleveland Cavaliers winning the NBA Championship and the Cleveland Indians currently leading the American League, it’s only reasonable to hope that this will be the year of the Cleveland Browns. In the 2015 season, the Cleveland Browns finished tied for last place in the AFC, so being the Cleveland Brown’s year, here’s to hoping that they do better than last year.

NFL BlogSince 1999, the Cleveland Browns have played in the First Energy Stadium – a first-class, 67,000+ seat stadium paid for by both public and private dollars. In the United States, there are 226 stadiums with seating capacities ranging from 20,000 to 107,000. And of them, 31 are NFL stadiums – remember the New York Giants and Jets share the MetLife Stadium.

Funding, owning, maintaining and filling stadiums is a tough business and is a business that is reliant on having a marquee primary occupant. And when that occupant leaves, stadiums have little hope for survival. For example, the Detroit Silverdome was home to the Detroit Lions from 1975 until they moved to Ford Field in 2002. Four years after the Lions moved to downtown Detroit, the Silverdome closed and was demolished this past Spring. The majority of NFL stadiums are funded by taxpayers and when the primary tenant moves, the stadium eventually closes and the taxpayers are left holding the bag. Looks like this same scenario will happen in St. Louis. The Rams moved back to Los Angeles leaving the 70,000+ seat Edward Jones Dome empty. Taxpayers will be responsible for paying $12M per year until 2022 for on-going maintenance costs and to fulfill the original construction debt.

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The Oscars Diversity Problem – Who’s to Blame?

It’s Oscar week and that means Vanity Fair parties, Russell Simmons’ All Def Movie Awards and numerous corporate and agency sponsored luncheons and receptions – culminating with the 88th Academy Awards this Sunday.  movie realFor the last couple of weeks much of the talk surrounding the Oscars hasn’t been around which movie will win best movie, but instead about the lack of minority representation in the top four category nominations. The media has made sure we knew who was boycotting the telecast and giving us their thoughts on what Chris Rock, the host of this year’s Academy Awards, should say on the topic.

Throughout these discussions the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences has received a lot of flak. The Academy responded by changing their membership and voting policies. And many industry insiders have moved the discussion and blame from the Academy to the movie studios. Question. Are the movie studios to blame? If their goal is to make as much money as they can from each movie release by mitigating risk and taking what they consider safe bets – franchise films, sequels and remakes – are they to blame for a lack of diversity in Hollywood? Well, I am a commercial real estate appraiser so I can’t say with a fact that they are to blame. But, I do believe that real change in what the major studios produce likely won’t happen until the movie industry experiences a major downturn. As we saw with network television, low ratings led to the networks being more adventurous with their programming. And the result, was more diverse shows that better reflected the viewing audience.

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