Live Chat with CEO Will Friedman

Live Chat with CEO Will Friedman

Jason Russell
on Oct 15, 2012

Join us Wednesday, October 17th 12:15 - 1:15pm to speak directly with Port Authority CEO Will Friedman. He will answer any of your questions about port operations, future plans and the upcoming levy.

Participants (6)

What do you think?

Anonymous
on 2014-09-24T02:25:22+00:00
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Recent Activity

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Dan,  Our priorities are clearly articulated in our Srategic Action Plan adopted by Port Board..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"Will promises me that he will be providing an answer to this soon. In the meantime, here's the..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"Thank you, Will. We really appreciate it, and I think the community does, too! For anyone who..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"If we're successful, 10 years from now, nobody will lament squandered opportunities on our..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Yes to both. When we did our planning for our Strategic Plan what guided us was a basic..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"We're just about out of time, so I'll give you a big vision question to end on. Where are we..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"thanks, Will, for that answer. It's one of those difficult problems people like you face when..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Dan, I can assure you that today the Port is very transparent. I think the Port can be a..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"Well, congratulations on the upgrade. and thanks for the clarity on the economic development..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"This is a bit of a touchy subject, but it's worth bringing up here, particularly in light of this..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Dan, We're going to start with the second question, which is something I'm asked all the time...."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"here's the release about the bond rating, for the benefit of others. "
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"The port just had its bond rating upgraded to "BBB-Strong," which sounds great, I guess (I don't..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Dan, There are several ways we can be involved. First by returning the land in front of the..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"two threads below is another related question about the role of the Port, the Browns and the City..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Nancy, Glad you asked that question. The area where Ingenuity took place is actually a former..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"Here's a question from Bob Aber, submitted via Twitter: "In what ways is the port able or willing..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Gina, Thank you for the question. The levy would focus on preserving jobs, keeping the ship..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"I think you're referring to the inimitable Putz Frau. It seems like a great thing that the Port..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Dan, I underestand there was a private boat that did some of this work a number of years ago,..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"Let's talk about the port's top priorities for the next few years. As you've indicated in that..."
Nancy Reeves
on Oct 17, 2012
"Anything in the works to open more of the Lake Erie waterfront to the public? A number of people..."
Gina Morris
on Oct 17, 2012
"Hi Will, Help us visualize the impact of the levy passing. How would Clevelanders "see" their..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Dan, This is one of those seemingly intractable problems that has been slowly developing for..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"Who was doing this before? And were they not doing a good job? "
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Hi Dan, Thanks for hosting us today. This morning we commissioned two custom-designed work..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"Will--that's sort of a "recent" history answer--what about in the past, before the last attempt..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"We're getting started here with our live chat with Port of Cleveland CEO Will Friedman. Will,..."
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012
"Erika, Thanks for the question. There has been at least one attempt to get federal funding,..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012
"We're going to start in a few minutes. For anyone participating or just watching, remember to..."
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012 - 1:12 pm

We're just about out of time, so I'll give you a big vision question to end on. Where are we headed? What will the port and the port's work look like in the future? And what impact will the levy's passage or failure have on that future? 

 

Responses(2)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

If we're successful, 10 years from now, nobody will lament squandered opportunities on our waterfront.

I think we'll have a much more vibrant, vital harbor and waterfront environment, which includes commercial shipping and is a magnet for local residents and visitors.

Envision this:

Walking from the West Side Market down Franklin hill to the riverfront, and then taking the Lake Link Trail up to Wendy Park

Walking from Public Square through the malls and over the pedestrian bridge to the Great Lakes Science Center or the Rock Hall

Seeing marshy habitat areas teaming with birds and fish, and build up from river sediment

Seeing bustling marine terminals connecting our manfacturers and their workers to overseas markets, leading to more job creation and more people who want to take a break from their daily activities to watch our port activity.

To sum it up its more maritime trade, its more mixed-use waterfronts that are are the centerpiece of downtown, and its an even healthier river and lake.

Thanks for the live chat. 

 
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

Thank you, Will. We really appreciate it, and I think the community does, too! For anyone who didn't get a chance to get a question in but would like to--just leave them here, and Will and his team have promised to get to them.

Thanks, All!

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:59 pm

This is a bit of a touchy subject, but it's worth bringing up here, particularly in light of this being the beginning of a community engagement project. The port has had some difficulty in the past with transparency. For whatever reasons, it has often been perceived as not being a transparent public agency. What steps have you and your team taken to make the port more transparent, and what are the plans to bring more sunlight in? 

 

Responses(2)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Dan,

I can assure you that today the Port is very transparent.

I think the Port can be a confusing public agency to understand because of the nature of what we do. But we are working hard to explain our work to the public. 

We've dramatically upgraded the quality and quantity of information we provide to the public. We encourage the Civic Commons community to check out our revised website, our new eNewsletter, and our social media. (again visit our website www.portofcleveland.com to see our priorities, sign up for the newsletter and connect to us on facebook and twitter)

We adopted a Strategic Action Plan last year that has 7 key policies -- including Communicating for Transparency, Public Engagement & Accountability. Our entire focus is on doing the work in our plan.

We're an open book. We're also extremely accessible and I regularly speak to groups large and small and look forward to more opportunities to meet with people. 

 
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

thanks, Will, for that answer. It's one of those difficult problems people like you face when tasked with bringing a public agency into the present. I appreciate your candor and efforts in this regard (and, of course, in the interest of full transparency and disclosure, we at the Civic Commons are pleased to be able to help you with that effort). 

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:49 pm

The port just had its bond rating upgraded to "BBB-Strong," which sounds great, I guess (I don't actually know anything about bond ratings), so, first question on that, is it great? Could it be better?

Second, bigger question that I think a lot of people wonder about but hesitate to ask: Why does the Port issue bonds? Or to put it another way, why is the public agency charged with supporting maritime logistics in the bond-issuing, economic development business? 

 

Responses(3)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Dan,

We're going to start with the second question, which is something I'm asked all the time. We issue bonds to provide low-cost and more flexible financing to entities -- from companies to nonprofits -- that want to expand.

It's very important to note that we don't lend Port or public money. We instead connect borrowers with private bond investors who are essentially lenders. This is an alternative to conventional mortgage financing.

We do it because our state statute grants us this authority and its a highly effective economic development tool. We'd be remiss not to use the tools we have to benefit the community.

In terms of the ratings upgrade. It was for our Common Bond Fund. The upgrade was a big deal for us. It shows confidence in not only our portfolio, but in our region. Ultimately it means better interest rates for borrowers.

 
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

Well, congratulations on the upgrade. and thanks for the clarity on the economic development role. It makes sense the way you put it, but it can still be such a head scratcher for a lot of people. The most important piece of that seems to be that no tax dollars are put into those bond deals.

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:38 pm

Here's a question from Bob Aber, submitted via Twitter: "In what ways is the port able or willing to support the City and Browns in lakefront development efforts?"

 

Responses(1)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Dan,

There are several ways we can be involved.

First by returning the land in front of the stadium to the city and sorting out responsibilities between the City and the Port, we've helped put the City in a position to seriously pursue mixed-use development.

I really believe the City is better positioned now than it ever has been to move forward with development on the lakefront. I know in the past there were false starts, but today the stars seem to be aligned.

In addition, Mayor Jackson asked me to be on a newly created advisory committee focused on putting out a request for proposals for lakefront development.

Finally, the Port is always available to provide bond financing for projects, as we have for many projects including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:25 pm

Let's talk about the port's top priorities for the next few years. As you've indicated in that question about Irishtown Bend, we know that's a priority (and one the Port can only move forward on if the levy passes, right?). What are the other top priorities for you and your team?  

 

 

Responses(2)

Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

Will promises me that he will be providing an answer to this soon. In the meantime, here's the Strategic Plan, which he will no doubt reference in his response.  

 
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Dan, 

Our priorities are clearly articulated in our Srategic Action Plan adopted by Port Board about a year ago. 

To my way of thinking, when you have a plan and you stay true to it, everyone knows what the goals are and how to measure progress and success.  By everyone, I mean my bosses (the Port Board), our employees (who I hold accountable), and most importantly the our stakeholders and public.  This is the essence of accountability and transperancey.

So what are these priorities?  In a nutshell they are:

Growing our maritime commerce to benefit firms in our City and region that compete globally (or aim to).

Serving more commmunities and projects with our financing tools (again it's about competitiveness and helping organizations grow).

Investing in the critical maritime infrastrucutre that underpins waterborne commerce and the development of our waterfronts (Franklin Hill, bulkheads, sediment management, sediment cleanup, and bridges/trailways that connect people with the water).

Managing the Port for financial sustaninability and communicating for transparancy, accountability and engagement.

Lastly, incoprating the sustainable practices into all we do.

As I said, all this is clearly laid out in our plan.  Check it out on www.portofcleveland.com

 

 
Expand This Thread
Nancy Reeves
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:25 pm

Anything in the works to open more of the Lake Erie waterfront to the public?A number of people observed during IngenuityFest how nice it was to be right on the waterfront - and that places like this year's site are the centerpiece of most cities with a waterfront.

 

Responses(2)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Nancy,

Glad you asked that question. The area where Ingenuity took place is actually a former Port working area that we returned to the City of Cleveland for mixed-use development.

We have consolidated the Port's footprint on a smaller area of the lakefront and we are involved in new efforts to bring new development to the lakefront.

As I see it, there already is ample space available for open space and development on the lakefront. To me its more about the quality of the place and the experience than a shortage of space.

 
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

two threads below is another related question about the role of the Port, the Browns and the City in lakefront redevelopment. 

 
Expand This Thread
Gina Morris
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:24 pm

Hi Will,

Help us visualize the impact of the levy passing. How would Clevelanders "see" their dollars working? 

 

Responses(1)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Gina,

Thank you for the question. The levy would focus on preserving jobs, keeping the ship channel open and creating more access and connections to the river and lakefronts. Specifically the proposal includes 2 pedestrian bridges to the lake -- one from the downtown malls/convention center and the other from the west side of The Flats.

We also plan to stabilize the Irishtown Bend hillside -- and in the process create public access to the river. For those who don't know Irishtown Bend (also known as the Franklin Hillside) is near the West Side Market, between W. 25th and the river. It is slowly sliding into the river. Our fix would enable the continuation of the trail system (called the Lake Link Trail) from the Towpath Trail to Wendy Park.

 For more detailed information about the levy proposal, please visit our website: www.portofcleveland.com

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:13 pm

We're getting started here with our live chat with Port of Cleveland CEO Will Friedman. Will, it's great to have you here, we're excited to have begun this new engagement project with the Port. I'd suggest we start with that first question from the community above.

After that, let's talk about what you've been up to today and why it's significant. You just christened two new vessels--debris harvesters. What are they, what do they do, and why are they important for port operations?

 

Responses(5)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Hi Dan,

Thanks for hosting us today. This morning we commissioned two custom-designed work boats to remove floating debris from the 6.5 mile river ship channel and a 5 mile stretch along the downtown Lake Erie shoreline.

As you may know the Cuyahoga River is on a US EPA watchlist, with floating debris considered an environmental stressor. Debris in the water is also an eyesore and can be hazardous for commercial and recreational boats as well as wildlife. We at the Port have expanded our mission to include environmental stewardship of our waterways and we consider the two boats -- Flotsam and Jetsam -- important to those efforts.

 
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

Who was doing this before? And were they not doing a good job? 

 
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Dan,

I underestand there was a private boat that did some of this work a number of years ago, but there has been no boat dedicated to removing floating debris in recent years.

I see part of the Port's mission as serving as a steward of the river and the lakefront and doing work that helps both the commercial maritime and recreational communities.

 
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

I think you're referring to the inimitable Putz Frau. It seems like a great thing that the Port has taken this on. Taking on new but highly relevant work seems to be a theme of your management style. Is this an intentional thing on your part or does it just seem like common sense to you? 

 
Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Yes to both.

When we did our planning for our Strategic Plan what guided us was a basic question: where can we make a difference to benefit the community?

We are proactive. We don't wait to be asked to do things. We offer to take on projects that match up with our expertise and authority under state law.

I honestly believe that shame on us if we don't use the capabilities we have to benefit the community.

 
Expand This Thread
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012 - 12:02 pm

We're going to start in a few minutes. For anyone participating or just watching, remember to refresh your browser frequently.

Everyone is welcome to jump in with questions at any point. Just click the "post to this conversation" button up at the top of the page. 

Also, to see entire responses, be sure to click on the triangle on the right.

 

Responses(1)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Dan,

This is one of those seemingly intractable problems that has been slowly developing for years. One of the complicating factors is that there are close to 20 property owners along the 30-acre hillside.

I can't answer the question for why the past played out the way it did, what I can do is focus on a solution going forward.

 
Expand This Thread
Erika McLaughlin
on Oct 17, 2012 - 11:40 am

Hi,

Can you tell me why the issues with Irishtown Bend have not been addressed in the past as things got worse?

 

Responses(2)

Will Friedman
on Oct 17, 2012

Erika,

Thanks for the question. There has been at least one attempt to get federal funding, which wasn't successful. Our plan is to have local funding sources in order to increase our odds of leveraging federal funds.

 
Dan Moulthrop
on Oct 17, 2012

Will--that's sort of a "recent" history answer--what about in the past, before the last attempt to get federal funding. This has been slowly happening for a long time, right?  

 
Expand This Thread
Jason Russell
on Oct 15, 2012 - 3:55 pm

Our conversation with Port of Cleveland CEO Will Friedman begins on Wednesday, October 17 at 12:15pm. Feel free to get the conversation started by leaving your questions, comments, and concerns. CEO Friedman will respond to all comments left in this conversation. So if you can't be here during the 1 hour live chat, be sure to leave your comments now and return after the live chat to hear his response.