HBS-NEO Harvard Business School Club of Northeastern Ohio HBS-NEO

Membership: Member Interviews

Dan T. Moore

(Interview continued from e-mail newsletter.)

Q. I'm on maternity leave – I've got all day.  But, OK - let's move on to a different topic.  What do you think are the key challenges Cleveland faces?
A. Cleveland's biggest problem is entrepreneurship. We have tons of money here. We have lots of deals. If you talk to the real deal folks in town, they all say there are plenty of deals. I think the big problem is that we're not quite as good at operational entrepreneurship. We have a lot of financial people around, and we don't have a lot of people looking at fresh needs. Fresh needs is the operative word(s). We need people with passion who can grow the businesses that will put the city back on track.
Q. You are very active in civic issues. Tell us about your greatest interests and passions in this area.

First, creating the park at Whiskey Island. This took five years and millions of dollars. The city wanted it to be housing and had zoned it this way. Then they wanted the Port Authority there. To create the park, we overcame all these problems. It's one of the few cases where we beat city hall.

Second, my passion is trying to revitalize the economics of Cleveland. The problem with the city is that we've grown these beautiful suburbs, but we're dependent on having a city core that functions. Now, the city has the third highest unemployment of the top sixty cities in the country, and among the African American community it's 60%. And you know half the kids in Cleveland are hungry and in poverty. That's not a functioning city.

So, what we have to do as regionalists, as people who love the region, is this: we have to fix the city! To fix the city is simple. It's not about creating restaurant jobs because that's a zero sum game. We need to create a product that we export out of the community, and we can do this through manufacturing. Manufacturing is the greatest place to hire people who are unskilled, yet we have done nothing to promote manufacturing. Cleveland is still a fabulous manufacturing town. 

The other thing is that our schools have got to be changed. The HBS Club has done some wonderful things with entrepreneurship in the schools. The HBS Club has some of most imaginative and creative people in the city. We have fabulous schools and smart people. We can fix this. We need to harness the volunteerism Cleveland is famous for. We need to create a civic mood for entrepreneurship.

Q. You're an ideas person.  Do you have any great ideas for the HBS Club of Northeast Ohio that you care to share with us?

I think the Club should take on some segments of revitalizing the city. For instance, when I got out of business school, some people here started a small business consulting firm for minority companies working on small business loans. If someone from the Club could take a piece of the school system, or a piece of manufacturing, and develop that into a real program that helps the city, I think that would be fun. Perhaps someone could focus purely on doing plant tours of small companies, because those are always so interesting and this is Cleveland's strength.

See other Member Interviews.