Dutch Newspaper Lauds Business Opportunities In Cleveland Plus

Dutch Newspaper Lauds Business Opportunities in Northeast

An October 27, 2014 article in a major Dutch newspaper praises the
positive assets of the Cleveland Plus region. The author credits
the shale revolution for helping to create an industrial
renaissance with dozens of Dutch companies expanding or relocating
in Cleveland Plus.

Former American “rustbelt” turns out
to be a magnet for Dutch companies

Het Financieel Dagblad
By Marcel de Boer
Monday October 27, 2014

Local policymakers like to suggest that the economic
turn-around was due to the decision to fix the sports stadiums,
making the inner cities in the state of Ohio livable and appealing
again. It is very clear that the State of Ohio, especially the
counties surrounding Cleveland, is seeing an economic recovery
again thanks to the shale revolution.

Dutch companies are riding the wave of this success, says
Bernardine van Kessel, Director with Team NEO, a non-profit
organization that attracts companies to Northeast Ohio. In recent
years, several dozen Dutch companies have descended upon the region
that lies half-way between Chicago and New York City, to benefit
from the industrial renaissance that has been occurring. Akzo Nobel
and Philips employ more than 1,000 people in their local

For more than three decades an enormous exodus had taken place,
states the Dutch woman who landed in the US via a field hockey
scholarship and who stuck around afterwards. Ohio, the state where
John Rockefeller started his oil-imperium, where Wilbur and Orville
Wright built their airplane factory and where aerospace icons John
Glenn and Neil Armstrong were born, transformed along with other
states south of the Great Lakes into the

But the tide has turned. In the United States there is a
phenomenon that has been called “the Great Homecoming”.
Many industrial companies are re-considering their offshored
facilities and are repatriating their production to the United
States. Areas that are part of the shale revolution, such as
eastern Ohio which is part of the western part of the Utica Shale
formation, are under consideration as part of this phenomenon,
explains Van Kessel. “This is not only one of the largest,
but also one of the richest shale regions. The minerals are easily
converted into raw materials for the plastics industry. To this
effect, Shell for example is building a cracker facility just over
the border in Pennsylvania.”

Slowly, the region is starting to experience how this
upstream development, meaning the oil and gas exploration, is being
turned into downstream applications. For example, the farmers that
earn money for the mineral and exploration rights from their
properties are now investing in new machinery and farm equipment. A
company such as John Deere profits from this, but also Goodyear.
The tire maker is in turn a client of VMI, a subsidiary of (Dutch
co) Twentsche Kabel, which has a facility in the region.

Diversified industry

“Many of the buildings that had been left empty over
the thirty plus year exodus are being restored and leased”,
says Van Kessel. She stresses that Ohio’s industrial base has
always been diverse, in contrast to that of the economy of Michigan
which traditionally has leaned on the auto and furniture
industries. And now you see the flourishing of all of those
different economic sectors: automotive, aerospace and defense
industry, polymers and coatings, the biomedical sector and also the
services industry and metalworking sectors. No wonder that
companies such as Akzo, Philips, Randstad, Stork, Wolters Kluwer,
CSM and Tata Steel now have Ohio facilities.

In order to unlock the hinterland and to tie into the
world of global commerce, the Cleveland Port Authority has started
a regularly scheduled container service with Amsterdam-based
shipping company Spliethoff. Since April, a ship sails between the
City of Antwerp and the city along Lake Erie, or, in the words of
Bart Peters, Director of the Atlantic Department of the shipping
company: “between Europe and the North-American
heartland”. The shipping service has become such a success
that Spliethoff announced last month that it will sail to and from
Ohio not once but twice per month.

Cleveland and its surrounding area appear to be a true
magnet for Dutch people, Van Kessel says. The cost of doing
business and the cost of living are much lower than in Chicago or
in New York City. The hourly wages and commercial lease rates are
far below those in the large urban areas in the US. In addition, as
an advantage for the Dutch people in the Cleveland area, a Dutch
school was recently founded. This provides an extra appealing
factor for the expats in the region.