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Blog Post  |  12.17.2020
Calfee NOW Episode 10 With Marty McGann, Executive Vice President, Advocacy & Strategic Initiatives With the Greater Cleveland Partnership 

On Episode 10 of Calfee NOW, Michael Bowen, Associate with Calfee's Government Relations and Legislation practice group spoke with Marty McGann, Executive Vice President, Advocacy & Strategic Initiatives with the Greater Cleveland Partnership

Topics discussed included:

  • Marty's involvement in Northeast Ohio politics prior to joining Greater Cleveland Partnership. 
  • What his role with advocacy and strategy initiatives with the Greater Cleveland Partnership entails. 
  • How Greater Cleveland Partnership navigates working at the federal, state and local levels to advance the Northeast Ohio region. 
  • How economic development is evolving in Cuyahoga County and what role does government play in that. 
  • What initiatives the Greater Cleveland Partnership anticipates focusing on in the future.

Calfee NOW Episode 16 

Watch the full episode. 



Video Transcript


Michael Bowen:

So welcome to another edition of Calfee NOW. Today, we have my good friend, Marty McGann, who we've been in the trenches a few times. So good to see you, Marty, how you doing today?

Marty McGann:

I'm doing all right, Michael. Good to be with you, as well.

Michael Bowen:

Great, great. So we'll get right into it. So, prior to your time at GCP, I know you held a number of roles in business and politics, and you really had a career that has molded the two very similar to, I guess, my career trajectory. Can you discuss your involvement in Northeast, Ohio, in the state of Ohio and politics in general, prior to coming to GCP?

Marty McGann:

Yeah, well, I started as an intern at the county back in the late nineties. And in the early two thousands, worked a lot with County officials and helping try to advance our region using the county as a vehicle to do that. Over time, I evolved through a couple of political roles and ultimately landed at the Cleveland Clinic and worked in their government relations department for a number of years, focused a lot on healthcare policy, focused on getting resources into the Cleveland Clinic, through federal and state funds, appropriations and state capitol bills, and the like, and then landed at GCP about 10 years ago. And I have enjoyed a lot of work with federal, state and local officials on behalf of our region.

Michael Bowen:

Wonderful. So can you describe to me a little bit about your role as the Executive Vice President of Advocacy and Strategy for GCP? What do you do on a day to day basis?

Marty McGann:

Yeah, so for folks that don't know, the Greater Cleveland Partnership is the largest regional chamber of commerce in the country. We've got about 70 professionals at our organization that are focused on business retention, workforce and talent issues, on equity issues in our community. How do we get our members to staff up from a diverse staffing standpoint and to use diverse suppliers. We also have an affiliate of ours that invests in projects in our community and uses new market tax credits. So we've got a robust offering within the Greater Cleveland Partnership to help grow and advance our region. The area that I particularly oversee is our advocacy groups, so we have a small team, a couple of staff members and a number of consultants that we work with on a daily basis to advocate at the federal, state and local levels of government on a host of different issues.

Marty McGann:

We come up with a public policy agenda every two years and really work our federal and state and local officials to advance that. These are the things that we think will really grow our region over time, so I oversee that group. I also am responsible for our ForwardCLE strategic plan. So, we have a number of professionals that are leading different aspects of that work. And I've been communicating regularly with our board and leadership on the various aspects of that work, but particularly leading in the tax government services space. How do we evolve our taxing over time to address the fact that we are one of the highest taxed of our peer set? But then also, there's aspects on our innovation agenda that I'm directly involved with on behalf of our organization.

Michael Bowen:

Wonderful. So you mentioned your three tiered advocacy strategy of both local, state and federal. So tell me how those changes you on a sliding scale, personally, I know that, just because I do something very similar. Sometimes the messaging and the way you have to advocate changes. So tell me a little bit about in your role, how those changes between both the local state, and federal level?

Marty McGann:

GCP is a nonpartisan organization. And our message is that of our members, we facilitate those discussions to make sure we arrive at their agenda and take their agenda to the federal state, and local levels. So, that's not a partisan agenda. That is very much what our members want and which will help advance our region. But the landscape that we plan is it can be really partisan. We have a very deep blue Northeast Ohio region at the local level. Most of the leadership post, if not all of the leadership posts are held by Democrats. At the state level, the general assembly is more Republican in a couple of months than it was prior to the elections and a few weeks ago. And at the federal level, it plays back and forth a little bit.

Marty McGann:

And our role is to really ensure that we can be successful on behalf of our region at all three levels. So we work very closely with folks within the county administration building and with folks at the mayor's office, the city of Cleveland, with suburban mayors as well. But we also work very well with the folks in the governor's administration and folks in the general assembly on a regular basis. And at the federal level, whether it's our Democrat members of Congress, Congresswoman Fudge, or Congresswoman Kaptur or Republican members, Congressman Gonzalez, or Congressman Joyce, it's really our role to take the message of our members to them and to advocate on behalf of those interests. So, we'll say the same thing to folks, whether they're Republican or Democrat, but it's really trying to ensure that we're non-partisan, we're focused on our members agenda and that we're pushing that at all three levels.

Michael Bowen:

That's great. No, I agree. Very similar to what we do at our shop. So, let's switch gears here. Let's talk about economic development and how will economic development evolve in Cuyahoga County? Walk me through, so 10 years ago, when you walked in the door at GCP to where we are now. And I guess to add on to that question, what role does government play in that economic development?

Marty McGann:

Yeah, well, there's an appropriate role for government when we have as challenged of a region as that we have. We continually turn up as one of the more impoverished cities, one of the more segregated cities and there's an appropriate role for government in helping heal some of those challenges. The way that I've seen our economic development landscape evolve over the last 10 years is we have a robust economic development infrastructure from us, from MAGNET, from JumpStart, Team NEO, a number of other organizations. What I see is that we're working more closely together now than we ever have, and we're partnering more than we ever have. And we continue to do so throughout a number of economic development organizations in our community. So I think what you're seeing is enhanced collaboration. I think you'll continue to see that, especially in the COVID era where you have a real press on resources.

Marty McGann:

The government has thankfully been putting more resources into small business, putting more resources into the infrastructure around a lot of the economic development framework, but we're going to need to continue seeing that. And I expect enhanced collaboration and enhanced partnering over the course of the next several years to ensure that we can grow our way out of the challenge that we're in right now. I think we have to take advantage of this opportunity where our community has been more challenged than we have been that I can ever remember and probably have been in decades. How do we grow out of this different than we were before? And how do we do it in a more equitable fashion with new partners at the table? So I think that's really what we're focused on. How do you collaborate and bring additional partners to the table?

Michael Bowen:

Wonderful. So you answered this question. We're looking at GCP five years from now, what are some of the initiatives that are starting now, or maybe pre COVID that you really think will "pop" in the next few years, and really are going to lead GCP into the next 21st century?

Marty McGann:

Yeah, we're rounding out our existing ForwardCLE Strategic Plan, which was a three-year strategic plan that really ends in 2021. And that was really focused on a number of areas that I mentioned at the onset of this discussion around talent, around equity, around helping our businesses grow. How do we have touch points with them? And thousands of visits over the course of those years, to ensure that we are hearing what their challenges are and finding ways to overcome those and referring those folks to partners within the economic development landscape. So I expect that work to continue, but ultimately we're going to have to go out and formulate a new strategic plan that builds on some of the successes and takes where we're at from the challenges and opportunities that are in front of us today. And how do we deepen those relationships with new partners and emerging partners to really advance that work.

Marty McGann:

But I think it's building off of where we're at. I think we have a more robust commitment to equity among our organization and our business community than we have in years past. I think it's building on that. It's taking the existing programming that we have around CommitCLE and a marketplace that we've built up for diverse suppliers and taking that to the next level and getting more buy-in from the business community generally. I think it's really incentivizing and enhancing our innovation ecosystem. There's been a lot of effort in our community around how do we grow our technology based economic development over the course of the next several years? A lot of effort with us, the Cleveland Foundation, Fund for Our Economic Future, JumpStart, we need to bring more partners to that table to accelerate that work. And then finally, I mentioned it earlier in the discussion.

Marty McGann:

Our community, we have a very generous community that have supported a lot of tax levies in our community and we've supported a lot of those tax levies, whether they be Tri-C in the past, whether it be for arts, whether it is for the Cleveland Public School System, we're fortunate to see Issue 68 pass earlier this month, at the Cleveland metropolitan school level. But overall, our members are really wrestling with this challenge that we're taxed at a greater rate than most of our peer set. And how do we over time address that while also having compassion, empathy, and achieving the equity agenda that we want? And I think it's going to be balancing these over time because we've really found ourselves in an uncompetitive standpoint from a tax structure. So we're going to have to figure out how to be more efficient. How do we encourage cities and counties to work together more deeply? And we see that as a real opportunity for growth over the course of the next couple of years.

Michael Bowen:

Wonderful. So with every one of these, we allow our guests to have a parting word or open forum here. So if you have anything you want to share, obviously our clients are listening, our perspective clients, and frankly just engaged citizens of Cuyahoga County are listening. So do you have any parting words? I'll give it to you.

Marty McGann:

Yeah. I guess my parting words would be stay home and wear a mask. We've had a lot of this crisis and the surge that we've seen over the last couple of weeks, really risks a lot of work in our community. We had the bump in June or July and folks started wearing masks and that started to dissipate. The growth and the trajectory that we're on right now is really concerning from a health standpoint.

Marty McGann:

But for my day job, how do we reopen downtown and how do we drive people back into these areas that our community has created. And how do we bring resources to folks that are challenged? Unfortunately, we've seen that this COVID pandemic has more negatively impacted persons of color and female participants in our community. We need folks to stay healthy, so we can start opening our economy again and bring people back into our central city and downtown. And so, I guess my parting words would be, be healthy and take the steps that you can that we all know to keep that way.

Michael Bowen:

Well, Marty, I want to thank you. And I want to thank the Greater Cleveland Partnership for everything you guys do. And I really want to thank you for participating in our latest Calfee NOW episode. So enjoy your day and be safe.

Marty McGann:

Thanks, Michael. It's always good working with you and the folks at Calfee, as well. Thanks.

Michael Bowen:

All right. Have a good one.

Marty McGann:

Bye, bye.

Calfee Connections blogs, vlogs and other educational content are intended to inform and educate readers about legal developments and are not intended as legal advice for any specific individual or specific situation. Please consult with your attorney regarding any legal questions you may have. With regard to all content including case studies or descriptions, past outcomes do not predict future results. The opinions expressed may not necessarily reflect the view points of all attorneys and professionals of Calfee, Halter & Griswold LLP or its subsidiary. Updates related to all COVID-19 government assistance programs are provided with the most current information made available to Calfee at the time of publication. Clarifications and further guidance are being disseminated from government authorities on an ongoing basis. All information should be reaffirmed prior to the submission of any application and/or program participation.

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