Challenge

The City of Cleveland, Ohio, and Cuyahoga County sought to construct a new convention center and “medical mart” to attract conventions and medical device companies to Cleveland.  Then-current state law authorized only a convention and visitors bureau to manage the construction of a convention center. The county engaged LNE Group to change state law to enable county elected officials to raise funds for the new convention center and medical mart through a sales tax increase and to manage the construction of the new facilities.

Approach

Deploying its bi-partisan resources, LNE Group developed and implemented a strategy to win support for the county’s proposed legislative change from Democrats and Republicans in the state capital.  The challenges included: (1) the fact that Cuyahoga County was represented largely by Democrats and Columbus was firmly in control of Republicans; and (2) the change to state law needed to be made before the end of the year.

Working in the “lame duck” December session, LNE Group began this work after the budget had passed the House and had its first reading in the Senate. Working non-stop, LNE Group persuaded the Senate to include an amendment with the desired authority. The amendment was included in the final version of the Senate-passed budget; was retained in the conference committee between the House and Senate; and was not vetoed by the Governor.

Result

The legislation passed and Cuyahoga County received the authority to fund and manage the facility construction. The new Cleveland Convention Center and Global Center for Health Innovation opened in 2013. These facilities have already stimulated hundreds of millions of dollars in new development and attracted record numbers of conventions and increased business for Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.