‘5 Questions With’ Camille Billups, Senior Director for TeamNEO
1. Northeast Ohio is the 15th largest market in the United States. How does TeamNEO collaborate with JobsOhio to attract and retain businesses in the region?
Team NEO’s responsibility is to accelerate business growth and job creation throughout the 18 counties of Northeast Ohio; we are the designated JobsOhio network partner for the region. Team NEO and JobsOhio’s missions are closely aligned to provide a seamless experience to Ohio companies. We are working to generate more jobs faster for more people, retain existing jobs, create a more inclusive workforce, and attract new investment to build a more robust and equitable regional economy.
2. As businesses consider expanding, what opportunities are available through JobsOhio and other entities?
Team NEO connects companies to industry expertise and helps them navigate incentive programs, regulatory issues and workforce systems so they can build, grow and create jobs. We have had the privilege of negotiating financial incentives for companies on behalf of JobsOhio. The JobsOhio Inclusion grant is a program we deployed for small to middle market companies that offers grants up to $50,000 to growing companies that are in one of JobsOhio 10 industry sectors. (Learn About Inclusion Grants & Community Development Grants (jobsohio.com).
For example, Team Neo worked with an EV manufacturer that needed to quickly scale production to meet demand. The company planned to double from five to 10 employees over three years and invest $500K in equipment, and they are in a distressed zip code. JobsOhio provided a $25,000K grant.
3. How can TeamNEO assist counties, municipalities and townships to be more attractive to those businesses considering expansion?
Team NEO harnesses the combined power of local, regional, and statewide resources to help grow business. Beyond providing financial incentives, we partner with higher education, nonprofits, and others to use our data rich insights about the regional economy, the talent gap, technology adoption, and real estate to help inform businesses about opportunities to grow and to influence regional solutions to local business challenges.
Communities are the backbone of our economy. Each has a unique value proposition and vision. We help them clearly articulate this vision by helping identify competitive assets in their community. The Jobs Ohio’s Inclusive Project and Vibrant Communities Programs - Inclusive Project Planning Program Helps Underserved Areas (jobsohio.com) – helps with funding the development of catalytic community projects.
About 80% of our growth projects are from existing Northeast Ohio companies. The industry insights at Team NEO supplement strong local business development and retention strategies and create a richer dialogue to understand local business challenges and opportunities.
The Northeast Ohio Development Exchange (NODE) is a Team NEO-led collaboration, providing an opportunity for public and private sector economic developers and public officials to share best practices while learning about assets in the region that can benefit the communities we represent.
4. What are our greatest strengths and challenges in attracting and retaining businesses?
During the pandemic, Northeast Ohio weathered the market disruption due to our diverse economy. The mix of Fortune 500 companies coupled with skilled manufacturing workforce and extensive manufacturing supply chain allowed Northeast Ohio to shine as a center of manufacturing excellence.
The workforce challenge is not unique to the region. The nation is facing a massive disruption in labor. Team NEO sees an opportunity to shift the tide by defining the workforce gap with the Aligning Opportunity report series (Home - Aligning Opportunities (teamneo.org)), working with Partners like JobsOhio on Ohio To Work Initiative (Ohio To Work Initiative to Help Displaced Workers Reskill and Restart their Careers | JobsOhio) and promoting state grants like Tech Cred (TechCred | Ohio.gov).
5. What’s on the horizon for TeamNEO and northeast Ohio?
The level of collaboration and engagement with our public and private partners is at an all-time high. Team NEO has kicked off a new 3-year strategy with a focus on building a competitive region with local resources to help companies achieve their growth plans.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are at the center of all our strategies because we understand that as Ohioans we all rise and fall together. Our recently launched Vibrant Economy Index more accurately measures the success of our regional economy and economic development efforts. The Index provides the information business, civic and education leaders need to drive economic growth and close the equity gap.