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Experts: Northeast Ohio education funding key to attracting tech jobs like Amazon

Posted at 10:07 PM, Mar 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-11 22:07:15-04

CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio leaders continue to investigate why Cleveland wasn't a finalist for Amazon's second headquarters, which would have brought 40,000 jobs to the region.

Some believe a greater focus on tech education and training is needed at all grade levels, if Northeast Ohio is to compete in attracting major employers in the future.

Amy Hanauer, Executive Director with Ohio Policy Matters, told News 5 increasing education funding is critical in creating a better tech talent pool.

"In Ohio we spend less on higher education than we used to, we give less need based aid than we used to, and we spend less on K through 12 than we did at one point," Hanauer said.

"I think it starts by saying we're going to adequately fund K through 12 education, we're going to fund pre-K, and we're going to make it easy for kids to afford college."

Jim Rokakis, with the Western Reserve Land Conservancy, told News 5 other cities that made the group of 20 finalists for the Amazon Headquarters, have forged strong tech education relationships with major universities in their communities.

"You have to look at Pittsburgh as an example," Rokakis said.

"Pittsburgh for years has worked with their educational institutions, in particular Carnegie Mellon, they've been able to gain some major successes."

"They brought in Apple and Google."

Rokakis gives credit to our region's effort to bring Amazon to Northeast Ohio, offering nearly $4 billion in economic incentives and a 50 percent wage tax credit for Amazon employees.

But he said, he didn't believe Cleveland was ever a serious contender, because there is simply not enough tech talent yet available.

"I think a lot of it had to do with the talent pool, and they knew they had that talent pool in New York City, and they knew they had it in the Washington D.C., Virginia area," Rokakis said.

"We need to improve our tech talent, but it's not a short term prospect, this isn't going to happen over night."

RELATED: City leaders share lessons from the failed Amazon HQ2 proposal

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