By Steven Shapiro
Once considered the “mistake by the lake,” Cleveland is getting the last laugh. After a banner year in 2016 — playing host to the Republican National Convention and winning an NBA championship — the city is beaming with pride, and residents are eager to get the word out about everything the “CLE” has to offer.
“There are some travelers that’ll measure cities by do they have great food, do they have great music, do they have great sports. Cleveland has all of that, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” said Greg Harris, the Hall of Fame’s president and CEO.
While it may be rocking a major confidence boost, Cleveland is still a work in progress. Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric visited the once booming steel town for her series “Cities Rising: Rebuilding America.”
“We experienced a period of about 30 or 40 years that I call … the ‘do nothing’ era,” said Joe Roman, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership.
Cleveland’s fortunes faded in the face of recession and a declining U.S. auto industry. Between 1980 and 2005 the city lost more than 100,000 manufacturing jobs.
But with investments in infrastructure, technology and medicine, Cleveland has become a diversified city while holding onto its roots.
“The good news is we still make things here,” said Roman.
The city has also become a hot spot for entrepreneurship. The nonprofit group Jumpstart helps fund young business owners like Brandyn Armstrong, who developed the Studio Stick, the world’s first portable recording studio for smartphones, which, used in conjunction with a mobile application, can record any type of music or high-quality audio anywhere.
Cleveland’s crown jewel may well be the world-renowned Cleveland Clinic one of the top hospitals in the country. Couric had a chance to participate in a demonstration of the HoloLens — technology developed by Microsoft that allows medical students to train on a hologram instead of a cadaver.
Couric also caught up with Matthew McConaughey, who filmed his movie “White Boy Rick” in Cleveland and was taken by the city’s struggling neighborhoods, which are attempting to revitalize.
“The people are finding a purpose, which seems to be the key to any community making it is having a purpose,” he told Couric.
McConaughey is working with John Adams High School and its principal, Terrance Menefee, to incorporate curriculum from his Just Keep Livin Foundation to empower high school students.
“I think that, if there are more opportunities for our kids to do more curriculum that that they have interest in would definitely change,” said Menefee.
Cleveland’s schools are improving after years of decline. “Our graduation rate is up 17 percent over a five-year period. We have an 85 percent passage rate on Ohio’s third grade reading guarantee,” said Eric Gordon, CEO of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. “We have growing enrollment for the first time in decades. So there’s both academic and nonacademic indicators that the system is moving in the right direction after literally decades of just not moving at all.”
Couric will take a closer look at Cleveland’s food scene, arts district and sports teams in the next installment of “Cities Rising: Cleveland.”