Zucca is new CH economic development chief
Greg Zucca, the new economic development director for the City of Cleveland Heights, doesn’t bring direct experience in leading suburban development efforts, but he does have extensive background in economic development focused on the technology sector.
Zucca, whose first day on the job was June 9, spent the past nine years at the Cuyahoga County Department of Economic Development—most recently as fund manager for the county’s Western Reserve Fund.
Before that, he was a strategic program officer with responsibility for design and implementation of programs to support entrepreneurship in the technology sector. He also served as a finance analyst, evaluating potential business development investments.
Before going to work for the county, Zucca was a researcher at Battelle Memorial Institute. There, he focused on technology-based economic development, and was involved with Ohio’s tech-oriented Third Frontier program. He earned undergraduate and master's degrees in urban planning and economic development at Cleveland State University.
Zucca is excited about the job in Cleveland Heights because it will allow more creativity and immersion in the business community.
“My priorities are to build on the core strengths of this community: Its vibrant mixed-use business districts and proximity to University Circle—which is the second-largest employment concentration in the region,” Zucca said. But, he added, “I have no preconceived notions of how we’re going to do that. I need to spend time getting to know residents and businesses here, and get a sense of their needs and hopes for the community.”
In his first few weeks, Zucca had met with directors of the city’s special improvement districts, a number of business owners, commercial real estate brokers and members of the First Suburbs Development Council—a coalition of inner-ring suburbs.
What's clear, he said, is the need for cooperation at many levels. As an example, he pointed to the Cedar Taylor Business District. “That’s a prime example of the need to coordinate,” Zucca said. “It straddles a municipal boundary; it has a number of businesses and a variety of needs and challenges.”
Zucca grew up in Highland Heights, but lived in Cleveland Heights as a toddler. He said that over the years he has spent plenty of time here and has always felt connected to the city. “It’s a strong and vibrant community,” he said. “The sense of community is so strong here, and that’s a real asset. The history is filled with grassroots initiatives that speak to the commitment of its residents.”
Zucca chooses not to predict whether his work is likely to focus more on business-to-business development, or growth in retail and other consumer-facing businesses. “I think it’s going to be both—and it should be,” he said.
Cleveland Heights resident Bob Rosenbaum is co-chairman of the Heights Observer Advisory Committee, and is responsible for its advertising sales and market development.