Security cluster cultivated in Cleveland Heights

FST21 will anchor for security hub
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Monday, September 26, 2011

CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio—Officials here are at the beginning stages of a plan to establish a “security cluster,” in this city. They want to make Cleveland Heights a regional center for security technology development and installation expertise, and they’ve already got one security company onboard:  intelligent access control company FST21.

Howard Thompson, economic development director for Cleveland Heights, has a vision of Cleveland Heights as a hub for security manufacturers and integrators. The effort will be branded as the “Smart Safe Security City Initiative,” he told Security Systems News.

The hub will initially be located in a former school—called the Coventry School in Cleveland Heights. FST21 is establishing a Midwestern office and demonstration center in the Coventry School. Thompson is working with FST21, SGI Global Business Advisors and other entities to get other security companies to locate in Cleveland Heights.

“The goal is to provide a high-quality and value added operating platform from which high-technology companies can develop and drive the region’s economic competitiveness,” he said.

The former Coventry School building has 54,000 square feet, but there are other buildings in Cleveland Heights (including other former schools) that will be available and Thompson wants the new tenants to be security manufacturers and installers.

This “cluster approach” is a tested model in the Cleveland region, he said, citing the “Cleveland Clinic’s biomedical cluster driven by BioEnterprise; aerospace cluster driven by NASA and the Ohio Aerospace Institute; energy cluster driven by Nortech and other economic entities.” Those clusters were develeloped by SGB Global, said founder David Silk. Silk told SSN that he’s not aware of any other U.S. city that has developed this kind of security cluster, “with complementary, not competing businesses.”

Cleveland Height’s security cluster will be anchored by FST21. Thompson said plans are in the works for city officials and SGB Global executives to travel to Israel in January with FST21 CEOs Avi Lupo and Ahron Farkash to talk to other Israel-based security companies about establishing an office in the U.S., based in Cleveland Heights. Thompson and other partners will also be working to entice domestic security companies (including integrators) to locate in Cleveland Heights.

Lupo said FST21 met the people in Cleveland Heights through the Israeli consulate. While this project will be the first of its kind in the U.S., Lupo foresees this project as part of a “much bigger picture of smart cities in the future.”

The initiative, if successful, would bring jobs and investment to this region, but what can Cleveland Heights offer security businesses that locate here?

Thompson said the city will provide a livable, affordable location for businesses. It will also provide business leads for companies. This is something the city has already done for FST21, he said.

The City of Cleveland Heights, working with the federal Small Business Administration, the Ohio Department of Economic Development and the Monte Ahuja College of Business Administration at Cleveland State University will help companies find financial resources, as well as other business development resources such as marketing and sales help.

“Those are the value-added resources,” he said. “I have federal block grants that I can use for business expansion and attraction and I’m looking for more,” Thompson said. “We’re very serious [and have the capability] to bring more resources to the table.”