Lots of good long-term economic news for Greater Cleveland

Rays of employment hope are shining strongly on Greater
Cleveland this summer. There are a number of new, long-
term job-growth developments emerging in metro area.
This article notes some of the bigger ones (Xiaofan Luo).

As jobs start to come back following the pandemic-related economic shutdown, there are also new jobs coming online for Greater Cleveland. These aren’t restored jobs; they are jobs resulting from economic growth in sectors that were either unaffected by the shutdown or they are structural changes from employers seeking lower-cost ways of doing business.

One of the sectors that wasn’t hurt by the shutdown was the warehousing/distribution sector. Businesses continue to look hard for warehousing/distribution space and the bigger the better.

Amazon has been in the news a lot lately, as it seeks to build new delivery stations like the one planned near Slavic Village or lease existing, large facilities like the one near the Cleveland/Lakewood line.

But those 112,000 to 168,750-square-foot facilities are relatively small compared to some of what’s in the works elsewhere in Greater Cleveland. Here is a recent sampling.

A better idea for local Ford plants?

While it’s good news that a new suitor will apparently acquire
both of the vacant, Cleveland-area Ford plants, the buyer will
reportedly re-use the huge factories for warehousing instead
of for manufacturing with fewer jobs (fordauthority.com).

According to a source connected with the repurposing of the vacant Ford auto plants in Brook Park and Walton Hills, both will be acquired by the same buyer. At last report in late May, Brook Park Mayor Mike Gammella suggested two bidders were involved in the purchasing of the two plants. He isn’t commenting publicly on who it is.

The source NEOtrans spoke with said both facilities would be repurposed for industrial-commercial warehousing activities. The source would not divulge any more information, including if the buyer was a developer or an end-user.

Both plants are massive. The former Brook Park Engine Plant No. 2 measures 1.7 million square feet of facilities, setting on 195 acres of land. The former Walton Hills Stamping Plant totals 2.1 million square feet of structures on 111 acres.

The repurposing of the two huge plants is good news. But it’s not the great news that some local community development leaders had hoped for. One of them said privately that, while warehousing jobs are better than having huge factories sitting idle, warehouses have fewer jobs per square foot than manufacturing facilities. Also, warehousing jobs don’t usually pay as much as those in manufacturing.

Consolidated operations are a gas

AmeriGas’ existing Business Services Office at 24650 Center
Ridge Rd. in Westlake will move next year when its lease
expires. Employees from this location will join several
hundred others consolidated from other cities into a
new site possibly in Brooklyn Heights (Google).

AmeriGas Partners L.P., the nation’s largest propane marketer, could see its Greater Cleveland presence grow dramatically as early as next year. Following its 2019 acquisition by UGI Corp., AmeriGas is looking to consolidate its call center and customer service operations.

A source who spoke off the record said that AmeriGas could be consolidating several hundred jobs to and within Greater Cleveland. That includes up to 125 employees at its Business Services Office at the King James Office Park in suburban Westlake. AmeriGas’ lease at 24650 Center Ridge Rd. will expire next year.
Where might the jobs be consolidated? The source said that a site in Brooklyn Heights is under consideration. Cleveland could also be an outside possibility. However, no specific locations are publicly known at this time. As a side note, the Cleveland suburb Brooklyn Heights should not be confused with the suburb Brooklyn.
The move has nothing to do with COVID-19. Instead, it is the result of corporate realignment following UGI’s acquisition. UGI pledged “to align its liquefied petroleum gas distribution operations across the U.S. and Europe to drive efficiencies and accelerate growth.” A second AmeriGas call center in South Carolina also is planned.

Cleveland, Pittsburgh in a healthy fight

Cleveland has some healthcare heavyweights on its team as
well as a number of small, healthy startups that helped
nurse the region to the nation’s second-best metro
area for healthcare jobs?(Kevin M. Nord).

If there was a championship for healthcare jobs, Pittsburgh would be edging out Cleveland for the lead. But in this competition, being No. 2 in the nation for healthcare jobs isn’t a losing spot to be in.

According to a June report by Phoenix-based Grand Canyon University, the two Rust Belt rivals in football and in their post-industrial economic recoveries are fighting it out on the field of one the nation’s biggest job-growth sectors.

Points that contributed to Cleveland’s high score were the number of available healthcare jobs, average pay, share of healthcare jobs among all local jobs, living wages and average apartment rents. The latter two categories helped push Cleveland and Pittsburgh to the top of the ranking and contributed to a medical powerhouse like Boston falling to 13th.

Interestingly, 14 of the cities that scored high for healthcare jobs were located in the Great Lakes-Northeast region. Only four top-ranked cities were located in the southern states east of the Mississippi River. Three were located west of the Mississippi but east of Rocky Mountains. And only one city west of the Rockies, Riverside, CA, was ranked highly for healthcare jobs.

Israeli tech startup IDs Greater Cleveland

UVeye Ltd. may put its North American operations group head-
quarters and a production facility in Greater Cleveland (UVeye).

A fast-growing tech-startup will locate its North American operations group in the Greater Cleveland area, if the hiring of the two men to lead it is any indication. UVeye Ltd. hired Glenn Hemminger of Mentor as its managing director of North American operations and Bob Rich of Chardon as director of North American sales.

Hemminger previously was director of international business development at Cleveland-based Dealer Tire and Rich worked in sales at DealerSocket, CDK Global, Cars.com and The Cleveland Plain Dealer, according to a UVeye press release.

A Cleveland-area headquarters or operations center location was buoyed by the fact that UVeye plans to establish offices in Ohio and New York. Furthermore, UVeye said it has multiple sites under consideration for future production and warehouse facilities, including in Ohio, Michigan and Texas, as well as several locations in the southeastern United States, the company said.

In the past year, UVeye raised $35 million in venture capital from Toyota Tsushu, Volvo and others. UVeye’s inspection technologies can identifty paint and sheet-metal defects, component damage, missing parts and other quality-related issues within seconds. Auto manufacturers as well as auto repair shops, such as service departments at car dealerships, are potential customers.

The scanning and inspection technology can also be used in security applications to identify explosives, weapons, toxins, drugs and other potential threats hidden within vehicles at border crossings and at entrances to secure facilities.

Silicon Valley firm to sew up costs in Cleveland

Stitch Fix Inc. opened its first eastern distribution center in
2016, a 484,000-square-foot facility near Bethlehem, PA
employing 500. A similar number of jobs may soon be
bound for Greater Cleveland thanks to the company
recognizing the region’s high quality workforce
and lower costs of living (lehighvalley.org).

There is always a benefit of similar businesses locating near each other so they can draw from an agglomeration of workers and suppliers skilled in that field. But when that market grows so hot that the costs of living affects the cost of doing business, then it’s time to move employees who can work from anywhere.

That has happened to San Francisco-based Stitch Fix Inc.,?a personal-shopping service and clothing retailer. It will lay off 1,400 people in California while hiring 2,000 people in lower-cost cities like Austin, Dallas, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Cleveland.

The 1,400 laid-off workers will be offered jobs at the new locations. The laid-off workers represent about 18 percent of Stitch Fix’s total workforce, according to a report. All of the 2,000 new jobs will be stylist positions.

No workplace locations are identified for the new jobs nor is a breakdown available as to how many jobs will be based in each city. But even if the 2,000 jobs aren’t divided evenly among the five cities, Cleveland is likely to get a significant number of jobs from this restructuring.

Prior to the pandemic, the Cleveland-Akron area was one of the nation’s hottest housing markets and was expected to be even hotter in 2020. The reason was — and based on the news in this blog posting, still is — because of the low housing costs and high quality of life here versus high housing costs on the coasts.


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