Double Down on Cleveland
“Double down on Cleveland!” That was the advice from Caesar’s Cleveland Horseshoe Casino GM, Marcus Glover to the two hundred or so community leaders gathered at the Higbee building in downtown Cleveland for Thursday’s groundbreaking ceremonies for ‘phase-one’ of Cleveland’s new casino.
Of course, the 35 year old Caesar’s exec wasn’t just celebrating all the goodies that will come with the initial $350 million investment– a speculated 5 million visitors per year, hundreds of local construction jobs and roughly 1500 casino employees, he was referring to all investments underway in downtown Cleveland right now, totaling over $2 billion investment dollars. Indeed, these are exciting times for Cleveland. If you are a business person with money to invest, Glover’s recommendation to double down on Cleveland makes a lot of sense.
Following the ground breaking festivities a friend said to me, “I guess your property value just shot-up,” referring to my downtown condo located perfectly for a “high-rollers suite.” The problem with his thinking is that I make money on my condo only when I sell it. I like where I live. I don’t want to sell it. It is a perfect location for work, nightlife, and all the other great amenities that come with living in one of the most affordable big cities in the nation. Besides, doubling-down shouldn’t simply mean making a quick buck on this round of investments, flipping a condo or cashing-in on a quick rise in property values.
Parlay Your Success
Doubling down, faithfully, means parlaying this current round of successes into bigger and better things, more vital to the long term success and health of our city. Much of the tax generated revenue from the new casino, for example, is dedicated to education. I wonder if we have the audacity to dream and build a world class educational facility in the heart of our city, quality education being one of the surest means to urban wellness and success.
Will we double down on our efforts to make our city streets more welcoming and safe, reducing poverty and panhandling, to encourage more people to join the 12,000 residents who already call downtown home? Or create incentives to court small and medium-sized retail back to the city to accommodate a seven day a week, post 5pm neighborhood.
Will our city double down on long-term planning commitments? We’ve talked for years about an accessible waterfront park, retail and residential community in downtown, or making Public Square a truly inviting public space for all. Why don’t we solidify the plans now, start building capital, so that when the Med-Mart and casino are completed, we are ready to act on ‘phase two’ of our plans?
Besides Doubling down on big ticket items has never been one of Cleveland’s strong suits. We’ve tended to bet on big ticket items like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame or a new stadium to rescue us from the post-manufacturing-era blues. It’s time to step off the boom and bust roller coaster and start thinking as a people with common goals, holding the heart of our city in our hearts once again. Doubling down means symbiotic development – small businesses alongside big, neighborhood alongside nightclub, cultural activities alongside our world class restaurants.
A City on a Hill Cannot be Hid!
Jesus once said “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hid . . . Let your light shine.” Doubling down isn’t just looking for a quick fix or a onetime big win, it means letting the light of God within us shine brightly enough that our city on a hill can be friendly, healthy and vital today and tomorrow.