Issue: November 2007 Issue
Changing of the Guard
Two tech titans turn a new leaf.
One was a "czar;" the other a pioneer. Both were Northeast Ohio's biggest technology cheerleaders, and now they are moving on to new ventures.
Michael DeAloia, the City of Cleveland's first official tech czar, announced in September he was leaving his post to join SchoolOne — an IT services firm in Playhouse Square specializing in elementary and secondary education.
"This was a difficult decision," DeAloia wrote in an e-mail to colleagues. "I was truly living the dream."
During his tenure, DeAloia and the city helped attract more than 30 tech companies, built nearly 450,000 square feet of office space and added more than 800 new employees. DeAloia is equally as optimistic for the city's future.
"We could have our own mini-Silicon Valley along Euclid Avenue, West Ninth Street and Superior Avenue," DeAloia wrote. "The seeds are there, and the soil is tilled to make it so."
The city will not replace DeAloia, but instead will distribute his duties using Mayor Frank Jackson's "business development teams," according to Jackson press secretary Andrea Taylor.
While DeAloia and the city were working to attract new tech companies, Jim Cookinham sought to connect them.
Cookinham, who announced in September his retirement at the year's end, founded in 1998 the Northeast Ohio Software Association (NEOSA), which was formed as a membership organization designed to support the growth and success of its member companies and to strengthen the technology sector in the region. When NEOSA published its first technology industry directory in 2000 during the height of the dot-com boom, many in the region were surprised to discover more than 2,000 technology businesses in its pages.
"I'm not interested in going to Florida and playing golf every day," Cookinham says of his retirement. "I'd like to stay involved in the tech industry and do some consulting work."
NEOSA merged with the Council of Smaller Enterprises (COSE) in 2003, but its name will always be synonymous with the man who thrust Cleveland tech into the spotlight.
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