Cleveland on the Rebound, “America’s Comeback City” Hosts 7th ‘Health Means Business’ Forum April 6

April 18, 2016

Our community, which has struggled so much, needs all the talent it can get. In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.” –NBA Superstar LeBron James and member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, in “Open Letter to Cleveland,” Sports Illustrated (July 11, 2014)

On April 6, 2016, Cleveland became the seventh city in our ten-city, two year campaign to hold a “Health Means Business” forum to promote better health through economic opportunity.  Co-hosted by the U.S. Chamber Foundation, in collaboration with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Greater Cleveland Partnership, University Hospitals, the Health Action Council, and the Global Center for Health Innovation, the campaign focuses on how business can help create healthier citizens, communities and a healthier nation.

“America’s competitiveness relies on better health for its citizens. The American business community won’t be competitive if we continue the status quo of paying top dollar for poor health outcomes,” said Dr. Jeff Lundy, director of the Health and Wellness Program, Corporate Citizenship Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Lundy’s remarks underscore increasing recognition that American businesses are leaders—and partners – in promoting a culture of health in the United States.

The resounding success of the recent Cleveland forum signifies momentum for the “Health Means Business” campaign: sold-out, with over 255 RSVPs and a waiting list, two Mayors, a County Executive, high-level business and community partners and the Cleveland Cavaliers’ CEO as speakers, and media coverage.  We were also honored to receive a State of Ohio Resolution declaring April 6 “Health Means Business Day.”

The forum was held at the Global Center for Health Care Technology in Cleveland, the world’s only facility that displays the future of health and healthcare presented on four themed floors – and a remarkable testament to American ingenuity in the health care technology arena.

After being devastated by the recession, Cleveland was called the "epicenter of the foreclosure crisis," – but it is steadily recovering. The city is changing and growing, and health and wellness are important factors in improving the quality of life for residents. Cuyahoga County is ranked sixth out of 88 counties for clinical care in Ohio and the second county in Ohio for population-to-primary-care-physician ratio. Nineteen Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered in the Cleveland area. Recently Cleveland won a competitive bid to host the 2016 Republican National Convention in July, an event bringing 50,000 people, including 15,000 members of the media, to the city.  

This will be an opportunity to showcase the renovation and revitalization of Cleveland which has been attracting strong investment. There were 16.4 million visitors to the Cleveland in 2014, creating a $7.4 billion dollar impact.  Tourism is a growing business in Cleveland, which is home to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and national sports teams like the NFL’s Cleveland Browns and NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers.

LeBron James' return to Cleveland signals the Cavaliers’ thirst for a championship and new, increasing excitement for the team. The emphasis on athletics in Cleveland demonstrates recognition of health as vital to the city and its future success.

James is using his celebrity status to help Cleveland recover from its financial and social troubles through philanthropic work like his youth foundation, the LeBron James Family Foundation. LeBron James’ organization focuses on the physical and mental health of the youth of the greater Cleveland area by promoting good nutrition and exercise. The foundation also partners with local schools and other youth organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs.

“For athletes, their major asset is themselves… their wellness, their physical ability, the longevity of their career, their compensation, and all that is tied into their ability to perform.  We’re proud of our role in the community as role models and advocates for Clevelanders to be their best,” said Cavaliers’ CEO Len Komoroski at the forum.

The emphasis on health and wellness for Cleveland’s athletes has expanded to the greater community. Cuyahoga County’s health outcomes rank 64th in the state's 88 counties, according to the 2016 County Health Rankings from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.  And unfortunately Ohio consistently falls in the 40’s in several measures, including smoking, diabetes, and infant mortality.

Joe Roman, the President and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership commented on Cleveland’s approach to health and wellness through collaboration with Mayor Frank Jackson: “The mayor has launched initiatives in health, in sustainability, that are unique to our city and he remains committed to those goals.”

“Caring about health helps build neighborhoods and cities with green space and public transportation. It means reducing violence, and it means making sure your kids can get to school strong and ready to learn,” said David Krol, the Senior Program Officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “This is clearly the challenge.”

The Health Means Business campaign seeks to engage local and regional businesses to empower healthier individuals and communities through the areas of education, employment, and increased income. The Cleveland forum focused on how business and community leaders can promote better health in the greater Cleveland area and nationally. We’re proud that Cleveland is on the rebound.