Team NEO Names 2024 Regional Economic Development Champions

Leaders recognized for their work to advance the Northeast Ohio Region

Last week, Team NEO honored three individuals and one industry cluster as 2024 Regional Economic Development Champions for their work in leveraging the full strength of the Northeast Ohio Region’s economic development network to advance our region. At the organization’s annual meeting, NEO Rising: Celebrating Today. Building Tomorrow, Team NEO recognized:

Inaugural Emerging Leader: Dr. Michele Scott Taylor, President of College Now Greater Cleveland

Michele is president of College Now Greater Cleveland, where she oversees the implementation of the organization’s new strategic plan. This new plan helps ensure that anyone in Northeast Ohio who wants a meaningful career can receive the education they need to achieve their goals – contributing to the economic vitality of the region. Michele has implemented successful community-based programs for College Now, including Xplore and impact!, which provide real-world career exploration opportunities and college entrance exam skills. She has been a strong advocate of the underrepresented and has presented opportunities to the region that increase our economic vibrancy and workforce.

Business Leader: Polymer Industry Cluster

Elevate Greater Akron sponsored research identifying a cluster of innovative polymer companies within the region and launched the Polymer Industry Cluster with partners including Team NEO and The University of Akron. Today the cluster includes a cross-sector collaboration in R&D, workforce development, startup support, infrastructure projects, and more, representing a growing coalition of higher education and economic development partners, plus over 40 companies. Because of the work done by the Polymer Industry Cluster, the Akron region has earned the distinguished designation as the Sustainable Polymers Tech Hub of the United States.

    Economic Development Leader: Brad Ehrhart, President: Portage Development Board

      During Brad’s tenure on the Portage Development Board, he has helped companies grow through his close relationships with businesses throughout Portage County. In fact, in the past five years alone, he has led the county to secure 45 business investments with almost 1,200 new jobs representing almost $62 million in annual payroll, and more than $425 million in capital investment. Notable projects include Davey Tree with the expansion of its headquarters and addition of a new R&D Center in Kent. A consistent collaborator, Brad embraces regionalism and believes in the importance of building an aligned local, regional, and state ecosystem to benefit all.

      Community Leader: Dr. Marcia Ballinger: President: Lorain County Community College

        A pillar of the Lorain community, Marcia has spent more than 30 years leading programs that drive economic growth and prosperity for communities and individuals. Under her strategic vision, Lorain County Community College established Ohio’s first semiconductor/microelectronics manufacturing programs. She also is leading the collaboration of ten Ohio TechNet higher education partners to prepare the workforce for Ohio’s Silicon Heartland. She embraces the true spirit of preparing students to be successful and contributing members of our community. “Our 2024 Champions are some of our most influential leaders strengthening our economy and driving economic impact across the region,” said Team NEO CEO Bill Koehler. “Each brings a different leadership style and set of skills that personify excellence, strategic focus, relationship-building, and impact. They each bring value to the work we do together and the communities they serve. We are grateful for their commitment to move Northeast Ohio’s economy forward.

        About Team NEO

        Team NEO is a private, nonprofit economic development organization that ignites economic vibrancy, fosters sustainable growth, and champions equitable prosperity. As a designated JobsOhio Network Partner, we collaborate across all 14 counties in the Northeast Ohio Region to create strategies to attract and retain companies, drive innovation, cultivate a skilled workforce, advance market-ready sites, and promote and engage the region. To learn how Team NEO helps make Northeast Ohio more competitive, visit