'5 Questions With' Team NEO CEO Bill Koehler

1. As the CEO of Team NEO, what has Team NEO’s response been to the pandemic and its impact on the 18 counties of Northeast Ohio which you serve?
The pandemic has demonstrated how critical a strong and coordinated network is during a crisis. Our ability to access resources quickly at JobsOhio, which proved very nimble as an organization this past year, was very valuable to the community.In addition, we have held weekly calls with our partners in economic development to share information and align responses to meet needs. At Team NEO alone, we connected with nearly 300 Northeast Ohio companies during the earliest, most intense part of the pandemic to help determine supply chain, manufacturing and financial solutions needed to regain momentum and keep the economy moving. We continue to hold these conversations throughout the remainder of the year to help companies navigate through uncharted waters.

2. How do you continue to partner with JobsOhio and county and local governments to attract and retain business and jobs to Northeast Ohio?
As the designated JobsOhio network partner, we help companies leverage the complex economic development system in Northeast Ohio as well as financial and non-financial resources available at JobsOhio. We assist with industry expertise, incentive programs, regulatory issues and workforce systems. We coordinate state, regional and local economic development strategies on behalf of our community to highlight the business case for new business investment in Northeast Ohio that spurs job creation and new capital investment.

3. Team NEO recently launched NEO RightSites as a tool to attract and retain businesses in Northeast Ohio. Can you tell us more about this tool and other programs offered by Team NEO?
To be successful in attracting new investment to the region, we need a dynamic inventory of readily available sites and buildings, allowing companies to achieve their ROI expectations from new business investment as quickly as possible. NEO RightSites is an online resource showcasing our region’s most competitive properties, including those in job hubs and opportunity zones, that have been vetted to mitigate risk and increase speed to productive use. We are working with the public sector, private sector and leaders in philanthropy to align site-related investment strategies that make Northeast Ohio more effective in winning the most competitive business investment opportunities.

Team NEO is advancing technology adoption through our Smart Manufacturing Cluster of Northeast Ohio and Additive Manufacturing Cluster of Ohio programs, facilitating hundreds of connections that drive collaboration between companies, academic universities and research institutions. Northeast Ohio’s 7,700 manufacturing companies can maintain their global competitiveness by adopting new manufacturing technology to drive efficiency, operational effectiveness, and new value propositions.

4. What continues to be your greatest challenges in attracting and retaining businesses in Northeast Ohio?
Talent is our region’s greatest opportunity – and one of our biggest challenges. Our research of the talent supply and demand gap, through the annual Aligning Opportunities report, provides a clear assessment of in-demand jobs and what skills and training our workforce needs to fill them. We are finding that leaders in higher education, workforce development, and the business community use these insights to assess priorities, train workers and help bridge the gap.

5. What are your top goals for the next 24 months?
There is a broader way to measure our success as a region. We aspire to build a vibrant economy in Northeast Ohio with strategies and solutions informed by robust data analysis. Team NEO cannot do it alone, and we rely on capable, engaged partners. We always aspire to be a strong, reliable partner that leverages the strengths of others as we build effective solutions. Together, as a region, we have the resources, assets, and people necessary to build and sustain a truly vibrant economy that is: Talented, Equitable, Innovative, Resilient, Competitive, and Prosperous.

+