What about the CFA?

Today’s Plain Dealer reported the end of the Conventional Facilties Authority (CFA).  The group was tasked with the convention center project hasn’t met for some, but their work will be useful to the Medical Mart and convention center decisions that need to made in the coming months.  All of the work (documents, studies, etc.) produced by the CFA have been in our possession for some time.  In particular, the information is helping us with the site recommendation.  Of course, some additional study is also required because the CFA never considered the possiblity of the complementary facility like the Medical Mart co-existing with the convention center.

Cuyahoga County seeks attorney Fred Nance to lure Medical Mart

By Joe Guillen and Sarah Hollander

Plain Dealer ReportersHigh-powered attorney Fred Nance, who had been tapped by a business group to help bring a new convention center and Medical Mart to Cleveland, could also be working for taxpayers.

Cuyahoga County is in negotiations to hire Nance and his firm, Squire Sanders & Dempsey, in its effort to open the facilities with a significant private investment, officials said.

Nance’s fee — higher than the $200 hourly rate the county typically gives outside legal counsel — would be paid using money that was set aside for the Cleveland-Cuyahoga County Convention Facilities Authority, a defunct group the county commissioners officially dissolved at their meeting Thursday.

The authority, created in 2004 to establish a new convention center, was mothballed last year as Medical Mart plans solidified.

Its reduced operations created a piggybank of about $175,000 in taxes paid by hotel guests — money that’s in play for the county’s negotiations to hire Nance, regional managing partner of Squire Sanders & Dempsey.

The county previously hired former Commissioner and Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro to help land a Medical Mart and new convention center. He was to be paid $200 an hour, up to $125,000. He collected about $35,000 before stepping down, County Administrator Dennis Madden said.

Nance would represent the county in talks with developers and Merchandise Mart Properties Inc., the Chicago-based company that would run the mart here, Madden said.

“The advantages of Fred Nance are obvious for anybody that’s been around the town,” Commissioner Tim Hagan said.

Nance is credited with helping to bring the Browns back to town and keeping the federal Defense Finance and Accounting Service and its 1,100 jobs in Cleveland.

He’s been pushing the Medical Mart plan since July, before the county commissioners raised the sales tax one-quarter of a penny to build a convention center to go with the Medical Mart.

In August, he began leading a site selection committee on a volunteer basis for the Greater Cleveland Partnership, the region’s largest chamber of commerce. Nance is chairman of the Partnership.

The committee plans to recommend a site to the commissioners by year’s end.

County officials’ decision to kill the CFA hasn’t drawn criticism from former members.

“I’m not offended,” former member Patrick Sweeney said. “I’m glad.”

County commissioners have left open the possibility of re-establishing the group to operate a new convention center.

Amanda Marko
Greater Cleveland Partnership

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