Accelerating Middle Market Progress

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Thanks to everyone who joined us at the Forum yesterday. If you were unable to attend, here's a brief summary of the event.

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Reshaping the big-box retail shopping experience

When a company grows from using a suburban neighborhood garage as a warehouse, to being named by Forbes magazine as one of the next “billion-dollar startups," there has to be an intriguing back story.

That company is Boxed, and co-founder and CEO Chieh Huang shared some of that story with more than 150 attendees at the 2017 Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum held May 11 at Corporate College East.

His company, launched in 2013, is disrupting the wholesale shopping club experience by enabling customers to shop for bulk-sized items online or via mobile app and have them delivered directly to their door.

Huang acknowledged that there were a few days in the beginning when no orders came in. “Those days really tested us,” he said.

Big changes: $100M+ in annual revenues

Since then, everything has changed. Huang showed a map of the U.S. where Boxed—with annual revenues of more than $100 million—now delivers.

The company’s impact is nationwide. This includes deliveries to cities and states where customers could drive to a big-box store to purchase large quantities of consumer goods.

The convenience of what Boxed offers makes a difference, Huang said. The company delivers anywhere in the continental United States and offers free two-day shipping on most orders.

The college tuition offer

Huang also talked about his decision to personally pay the college tuition for children of Boxed employees. Half of his stock in the company provides the funds.

Growing up poor, he said that he is very mindful of the role that education played in his success, and he wants Boxed employees to be able to provide this opportunity for their children.

He also said it’s an acknowledgement of the employees’ hard work, which is propelling the company’s continued growth toward that billion-dollar level.

The Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum was presented by Accelerating Middle-Market Progress (AMMP), a program of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.

Mid-market companies are powering business growth across U.S. and in Cleveland

Tom Stewart2 05 12 17.jpgU.S. middle-market companies continue to be the source of the strongest growth in revenue and employment in the first quarter of 2017, according to research by the National Center for the Middle Market (NCMM).

Tom Stewart, the NCMM’s executive director, discussed these findings at the Greater Cleveland Middle Market Forum held Thursday at Corporate College East.

When looking at Cleveland, the impact of the middle market is quite substantial: Mid-sized companies comprise one percent of all businesses but produce 23 percent of all revenue.

Statewide, the NCMM survey found that 2017 is expected to be a profitable year for Ohio’s middle-market companies. They are anticipating their revenue to grow over the next 12 months at a higher level than their counterparts across the U.S. (9.5 percent compared to 8.8 percent).

They also are slightly more confident in their local economy than the nationwide average (89 percent compared to 88 percent) and much more confident in the national economy than the U.S. average (97 percent vs. 90 percent).

Read more about the national results in the 1Q 2017 Middle Market Indicator report.

Click for an overview of Ohio companies.

The National Center for the Middle Market, a partnership of The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business, SunTrust Banks, Inc., Grant Thornton LLP and Cisco Systems, is a strategic partner of Accelerating Middle-Market Progress.

Insightful discussions from our panelists

The Greater Cleveland Middle-Market Forum also included panel discussions on four top-of-mind topics for middle-market companies.

Many thanks to the participants for sharing their perspectives and experiences on these subjects:

The C-Suite: How to attract, manage and leverage a dynamic leadership team (shown in photo left to right):

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  • Jennifer Cohen, senior vice president, leadership development, Ratliff & Taylor, moderator
  • Todd Stein, president and CEO, Brunswick Companies
  • Michelle Hirsch, senior vice president, Brunswick Companies
  • Gordon Bowen, president, Lifebanc
  • Heather Mekesa, director, hospital services, Lifebanc
  • Jeff Crane, CEO, TPC Wire & Company
  • Michele Pamboukis, vice president, human resources, TPC Wire & Company

Marketing: How to leverage data to harness business intelligence and target new audiences (shown in photo left to right):

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  • Anne Madzelan, manager, advertising and promotions, Cleveland Indians
  • Lisa Dobransky, director of content, Cuyahoga Community College
  • Jorge Solorio, Americas industrial business manager, The Lubrizol Corporation
  • Tom Kramer, founder and president, Essex Digital Platform, moderator

Cyber security:  How to respond to cyber threats and take steps to avoid a future cyber breach (shown in photo left to right):

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  • Timothy M. Opsitnick, president, JURINNOV LLC, moderator
  • Christian Weekley, president and general manager, Weekley’s Mailing Service
  • Mark Vega, market leader, corporate construction, The Albert M. Higley Company
  • Brian Ray, co-founder and co-director, Center for Cybersecurity and Privacy Protection, Cleveland-Marshall College of Law

Human Resources: How companies are redefining work to support the success of a multi-generational workforce (shown photo left to right):

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  • Steve Millard, executive vice president, Greater Cleveland Partnership, moderator
  • Matt Barcomb, vice president, organizational design, LeanDog
  • Meghan Bilardo, director, learning & organizational development, Brandmuscle
  • Caitlin McLaughlin, executive vice president, director of talent acquisition and total rewards, The PNC Financial Services Group

Thanks to our middle-market sponsors:

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Empowering Local Leadership Conference

You’re invited to the fifth annual Empowering Local Leadership Conference to be held May 18-19 in Washington, D.C.

The event is presented by the Greater Cleveland Partnership with special guests (above photo left to right) Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11), Congressman Dave Joyce (OH-14) and Congressman Jim Renacci (OH-16).

The conference, which is being held in partnership with the Northeast Ohio Mayors and City Managers Association and the Cuyahoga County Mayors and City Managers Association, will include:

  • A legislative forum for business attendees
  • An opening night reception
  • Breakfast with members of the Ohio Congressional delegation
  • Presentations on how local governments can leverage federal resources in their communities.

Click for details.

Susan Goldberg to keynote GCP's Annual Meeting;
Register now to ensure preferred seating!

Susan Goldberg.jpgPlease plan to join us and more than 1,100 business and community leaders at the Greater Cleveland Partnership 2017 Annual Meeting on Wednesday, June 7 from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hilton Downtown Cleveland.

Our keynote speaker will be Susan Goldberg, editorial director of National Geographic Partners, and editor-in-chief of National Geographic magazine.

From 2007 to 2010, she was editor of The Plain Dealer. She then served as executive editor for federal, state and local government coverage for Bloomberg News in Washington, D.C.from 2010 to 2014.

The event also will include:

  • An update on our work to advance the Greater Cleveland business community's priorities

  • An overview of the projects and initiatives that we will embark upon as a part of our new strategic plan

  • Recognition of businesses and community leaders through the Richard A. Shatten Leadership Award, the Connor Cutler Business and Civic Leadership Award and the Commission on Economic Inclusion's Best-in-Class awards.

If you haven't already, you can register now and lock in preferred seating for your company by purchasing a corporate table of 10.

If you have questions about registration, please contact us at or 216.592.2390.

Presenting Sponsor

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Supporting Sponsors
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Reception Sponsor                               Video Sponsor
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Media Sponsor
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Meet our Accelerating Middle-Market Progress
(AMMP) sponsors

Click the links below to learn more about them.

In addition to our middle-market events, their support also brings you our Middle-Market Knowledge Center, an online repository of information that provides both regional and national data, research and trends.

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Corporate College at Cuyahoga Community College provides customized training solutions that meet your strategic business goals to become more efficient, grow employee skills and retain top talent.

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Crain's Cleveland Business has been connecting Northeast Ohio’s business decision makers to regional business intelligence for 33 years  through its print publication, digital offerings, and events.

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Medical Mutual is the oldest and largest health insurer in Ohio. For 80 years, the company has been serving its members and the Ohio communities where they live and work.

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Founded in 1968, Minute Men Staffing Services is the cornerstone of The Minute Men Human Resource System, a group of HR-related companies headquartered in Cleveland, Ohio. The Minute Men Human Resource System has grown to become one of the largest private employer service organizations in the United States.

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Plante Moran is among the nation’s largest certified accounting and business advisory firms, providing clients with tax, audit, risk management, financial, technology, business consulting and wealth management services.

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With roots in banking dating to before the Civil War, PNC has grown into one of the leading financial services organizations in the country. PNC provides consumer and small business banking primarily in 19 states and the District of Columbia.



More events

05.25.17 Digging Deeper: Measuring D&I Beyond Demographics

Charmaine Brown 04 05 172.jpgThe next meeting of the Commission on Economic Inclusion's Diversity Professionals Group will feature a presentation by Charmaine Brown, president & founder of Connexions Consulting, Inc.

05.26.17 Morning Conversation: State Senator Matt Dolan 

matt dolan 05 12 17.jpgState Senator Dolan was recently elected to the Ohio Senate, serving the 24th District that includes portions of Cuyahoga County.

He is currently a partner at the law firm of Thrasher, Dinsmore & Dolan, where he represents business clients in a variety of matters,

He formerly served three terms in the Ohio House of Representatives. During his second term, he was appointed chairman of the Finance and Appropriations Committee.

The GCP Morning Conversation series is sponsored by:


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06.08.17 Business-2-Business Matchmaker

GCP-member companies and organizations are invited to participate as buyers and connect with a diverse group of businesses who can help fulfill your procurement and diverse supplier needs.

The event is presented by the GCP and COSE.

06.20.17 GCP Internship Central Webinar

james mcweeney enews 04 10 17.jpg James McWeeney, an attorney with Walter Haverfield, will share his expertise regarding legal issues employers should know about internships.

His practice includes advising clients on labor and employment matters, contract drafting and disputes, public record requests, as well as policy drafting under Ohio law.

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07.24.17 GCP Member Golf Outing

This event is for middle-market C-suite executives and their direct reports. Please join us from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. for lunch, golf and dinner at Kirtland Country Club in Willoughby.

Presenting Sponsor

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10.12.17 BizConCLE

Please mark your calendar and plan to join us at BizConCLE, a unique education and networking experience presented by the GCP/COSE.

It is designed for middle-market CEOs, C-suite leaders and their teams, as well as small business owners.

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