Cleveland, Maple Hts projects add hundreds of jobs

A new company to Cleveland, LabConnect will open on Carnegie Avenue at what has been the Athersys headquarters for nearly 20 years. LabConnect’s expansion to Cleveland could happen in early 2024 (Google). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

LabConnect, Cleveland Kitchen, VE Solutions all growing

Tennessee-based laboratory services company LabConnect and local fermented foods producer Cleveland Kitchen Co. were approved this week for a combined $1.1 million in state job creation tax credits for up to 250 new jobs at facilities in Cleveland. Meanwhile, a growing Vendors Exchange International, LLC plans to move its offices and manufacturing facilities from a western suburb to Maple Heights where it will expand to more than 70 jobs, thanks to financial support from Maple Heights.

Both state investments will be a big boost to Cleveland’s Carnegie Avenue corridor. LabConnect is opening its first Cleveland facility after it was approved for an eight-year credit estimated at $850,000 and expects to create 167 full-time positions, generating $8 million in new annual payroll. Jean Marie Thompson, senior vice president of marketing at LabConnect, said their firm will open in 2024 at a roughly 40,000-square-foot space at 3201 Carnegie Ave. owned by Comsis LLC which, in turn, is owned by James Comella of Cadillac Music.

For 18 years, 3201 Carnegie has been the home of clinical-stage biotechnology firm Athersys that had to lay off 70 percent of its staff last year. The company, which has never made a profit, most recently has listed an office at 11000 Cedar Ave. with the Facility Registry Service. Ellen Gurley, Athersys’ manager of corporate communications and investor relations did not respond to an e-mail from NEOtrans prior to publication of this article.

LabConnect wanted to open its Cleveland facility near the Cleveland Clinic Main Campus as part of the Cleveland Innovation District, a joint effort by JobsOhio, the Cleveland Clinic and other local universities and health care systems. In July, Cleveland Clinic Laboratories and LabConnect announced a strategic alliance to accelerate clinical trials and connect patients to new medicines for improved patient care. JobsOhio, ODOD, Team NEO, and the City of Cleveland also came together to support the competitive project.

“LabConnect’s decision to choose Cleveland for its new operations demonstrates how the region’s thriving healthcare sector serves as a magnet to attract cutting-edge, global companies in this space,” said JobsOhio President and CEO J.P. Nauseef in a written statement. “This investment from LabConnect further strengthens Ohio’s global leadership in advancing efficiencies for world-class pharmaceutical companies, research institutions and more while bringing 167 new jobs to Northeast Ohio.”

Farther east on Carnegie Avenue, at East 75th Street, Cleveland Kitchen plans to expand its facilities and hire another 80 people thanks to state tax credits that were awarded this week (Google).

The company, which provides laboratory and functional outsourcing for biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and contract research organizations, is the latest to join the region’s rich healthcare and biomedical sector that includes 700 biomedical businesses and 270,000 biomedical and healthcare workers.

“This is a win for our workforce, for the advancement of discoveries that save lives, and for the continued growth of Cleveland’s thriving biomedical sector,” said Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb. “I have every confidence that LabConnect will find support, success and growth here in Cleveland.”

Cleveland Kitchen Co., a family-owned fermented foods company that started in 2014 under the moniker Cleveland Kraut, has grown into a national brand over the last few years and is ready to expand again. Cleveland Kitchen was approved for a seven-year tax credit with an estimated value of $300,000, adding 80 new positions to their current staff of 58 at an estimated $3.6 million in annual payroll. It will expand its existing 137,000-square-foot building at 7501 Carnegie Ave.

There are many food-related businesses that are growing, some quickly, on Cleveland’s near-East Side. Among them are Snap Gourmet Foods, 2275 E. 55th St.; Cleveland Cold Storage, 2797 E. 75th St.; the Central Kitchen Incubator, 2800 Euclid Ave.; Green City Growers, 5800 Diamond Ave.; Haus Malts, 6107 Carnegie; CloudKitchens ghost kitchen complex, 3915 Carnegie; Rid-All Green Partnership, 8129 Otter Ave.; Orlando Baking Co., 7777 Grand Ave.; Miceli Dairy Products Co., 2721 East 90th St.; and Pierre’s Ice Cream, 6200 Euclid Ave. All are growing and adding new jobs.

JobsOhio, ODOD, Team NEO, Project Management Consultants, the City of Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County collaborated with Cleveland Kitchen Co. to help bring the project to fruition. The City of Cleveland is also providing Cleveland Kitchen Co. with a 50 percent job creation tax credit on income tax withholding for new employees for a period of five years. Legislation for the local tax credit is currently being drafted.

A portion of the former Cook United Building on the north side of Rockside Road, just west of the railroad tracks, in Maple Heights will gain new life thanks to the relocation and expansion of VE Solutions (Google).

“Cleveland Kitchen is an incredible story of homegrown success and a true taste of Cleveland,” said Cleveland Chief of Integrated Development Jeff Epstein. “We are thrilled to play a small part in helping this brand grow.”

In Maple Heights, the city recently authorized a Job Creation Grant Award for Vendors Exchange International, LLC, also known as VE Solutions. The grant will provide a rebate through the form of payroll tax reimbursements and is contingent on the company’s relocation of its corporate offices, related executive staff, construction of a product showroom and new manufacturing facilities to a vacant, 82,000-square-foot space at 16501 Rockside Road.

The advanced vending and retail supply manufacturer plans to add 70 new jobs in Maple Heights within the first year, totaling approximately $5,500,000 in estimated new annual payroll expenditures. Plans are for future growth as they have outgrown their existing, 45,000-square-foot facility at 8700 Brookpark Rd. in Brooklyn. Their current level of employment was not available.

“The arrival of new businesses like VE Solutions to our City promises increased opportunities for residents, youth engagement, economic resilience and continues the City’s progress toward consistently strong fiscal health. We are so pleased to welcome VE Solutions to our community here in Maple Heights and know they will be asset to the broader public,” said Mayor Annette Blackwell.

VE Solutions is also pursuing funds through Team NEO and Jobs Ohio to build out the empty space on Rockside which used to be the Cook United Building. The requested funds will also be used to repair an on-site freight elevator. The grant arrangement with Maple Heights is scheduled to last for five years, according to city officials.


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