CEO Tom Waltermire to Retire from Team NEO at Year’s End
Team NEO’s CEO Tom Waltermire, who turned 65 this year, will retire from the organization on December 31. He announced his plans at Team NEO’s November 5 board meeting. Also at that meeting, the Team NEO Board voted to evolve into a new organization that will operate as a collaboration of Northeast Ohio businesses, foundations and JobsOhio to accelerate Northeast Ohio job growth. The new organization, which will retain the Team NEO name, will launch at the beginning of 2015.
“Over the past eight years, Team NEO has played a strong role in the region’s economic vitality. I’m honored to have been a part of both the region’s and Team NEO’s progress,” said Waltermire. “After 30+ years with large Northeast Ohio companies, I had planned to be in this role for just one year. But the attractiveness of the challenge, the chance to bring new job opportunities to so many people and the support of the region has made these eight great years. Having been active as a corporate leader in Northeast Ohio and state economic development, leading Team NEO was a chance to achieve a vision of regional progress that the late Pete Burg, former chairman of First Energy and founding chairman of Team NEO, and I had discussed so many times. It was a vision based on the firm belief that only by working together, could Northeast Ohio excel. Today, the region and Team NEO are one step closer to achieving that vision and are well positioned to transition into this next, very significant chapter. I’ve always believed that a regional strategy was a missing element in Northeast Ohio’s progress. With that in place, it is the right time for new leaders to build upon the progress we’ve made.”
Waltermire transformed Team NEO from a fledgling regional economic development effort into a strong catalyst and contributor to the economy of Northeast Ohio. In 2006, his first year, he sharpened Team NEO’s focus – making regional marketing and business attraction the organization’s primary activities. That focus has paid off. Team NEO, in active collaboration with its many regional and local partners, will soon achieve a major milestone – marking the attraction of 100 new company operations to Northeast Ohio since 2007, representing nearly 9,000 jobs.
“Tom’s connections in the business community at the local, national and international levels and his unyielding belief in and enthusiasm for Northeast Ohio has opened doors, changed perceptions and created countless opportunities for the region,” said Paul Clark, regional president PNC Bank, Cleveland and Team NEO board chair 2013-2014. “It has been both a pleasure and privilege to have worked so closely with him. We are extremely fortunate to have had the benefit of his leadership and vision for so long. During this time, Team NEO has become nationally recognized as a highly professional and effective business attraction and development organization.”
The challenge from the beginning was to raise national and global awareness of what Northeast Ohio has to offer and to help the region to believe in itself once again. Today, more companies than ever are choosing Northeast Ohio as a good place to invest and grow, and attitudes across the region are on the rise.
Waltermire worked to help the region understand its shared economy and effectively tell its story so that both business attraction prospects and local leaders could make informed decisions. Team NEO’s Cleveland Plus Economic Review each quarter provides a holistic picture of Northeast Ohio’s economy. It is the only regular source of collective economic data for the 18-county region. It is frequently covered by media and distributed nationally to promote the economic vitality of Northeast Ohio.
With the financial support of The Cleveland Foundation, Team NEO began promoting the region to businesses in Europe and Asia in 2009. That initiative has matured into an aggressive pipeline that now is yielding three to five new companies each year. Northeast Ohio is recognized in key foreign markets as an attractive area for new investment. Linkages with Northeast Ohio businesses that are foreign owned also have been expanded.
Waltermire also played a pivotal role in launching the Cleveland Plus Marketing Alliance (now the Northeast Ohio Regional Marketing Alliance), an initiative to promote the region with national business media, assist companies with talent recruiting and educate regional leaders on regional developments. He was part of the oversight group of the Alliance until 2012, when a regional task force determined that it should be housed within Team NEO. Since then he has vigorously engaged in fundraising activities, using his connections and conviction to broaden support for the campaign across the region. In 2012 the Akron/Canton Affiliate of Sales & Marketing Executives International (SMEI) recognized him as Executive of the Year, its highest Distinguished Sales and Marketing Award.
To recognize the outstanding economic development work that occurs each year in Northeast Ohio, Team NEO launched the annual Economic Development Plus Awards. Now in its ninth year, the awards ceremony attracts 500 business and community leaders to honor communities and organizations for taking creative approaches to create or retain jobs and attract investment. Best practices are shared to spur further innovation. The ceremony also includes the H. Peter Burg Regional Vision Award, Team NEO’s highest honor, annually recognizing an individual who has made significant contributions to regional teamwork.
In 2011 Governor John Kasich created JobsOhio and selected Team NEO as the Regional Network Partner for Northeast Ohio. Waltermire helped the region and JobsOhio shape this groundbreaking approach to economic development. One of the initial steps was to begin creating an economic competitiveness strategy for the region. Team NEO and The Fund for our Economic Future launched the initiative to bring together business and philanthropy. Ultimately it grew to a collaborative volunteer group of nearly 150 business, economic development and foundation leaders. The strategy identified 10 priority areas that would make Northeast Ohio more competitive in the global economy. A Regional Competitiveness Council (RCC) of senior business and philanthropic leaders was formed in 2013 to set goals and identify specific actions – among them the evolution of Team NEO into a new organization that would promote and coordinate implementation of the strategy and better align elements of the region’s economic competitiveness system. Find more information at www.RCCstrategy.org.
“Before and during his tenure as CEO of Team NEO, Tom Waltermire has been passionately committed to smart regionalism, believing that communication, cooperation, teamwork and professionalism are the keys to advancing the region’s economy and addressing the needs of companies that want to grow or locate in Northeast Ohio,” said Ward J. “Tim” Timken, chief executive officer and president of TimkenSteel, past chairman of the Team NEO board, and RCC co-chair. “His passion, coupled with his broad regional perspective, has effectively encouraged a much needed debate, raised our expectations of the region’s potential and left a lasting positive impression on the landscape of Northeast Ohio.”
Waltermire plans to remain in Northeast Ohio, devoting his attention to the growth and progress of the region and continuing to serve on the boards of a broad range of businesses and community organizations. He is on the board of several Northeast Ohio small and mid-size companies with high growth potential, including Vadxx Energy, Albrecht, Inc., Flow Polymer and Collaborent. His active community service includes the boards of Baldwin Wallace University, The Cleveland Orchestra, Deaconess Foundation, Business Volunteers Unlimited, ideastream, Global Cleveland and the Presidents’ Council Foundation.
In addition to Team NEO, Waltermire’s engagement in economic development for Northeast Ohio and the State of Ohio includes having served as board chair of NorTech and on the executive committees and boards of Cleveland Tomorrow, the Greater Cleveland Partnership, JumpStart, Inc. and the Ohio Business Roundtable. He is the founding chair of the Ohio Polymer Strategy Council and has been appointed by three Ohio Governors to Ohio’s Third Frontier Advisory Board, a major state initiative in technology-based economic development. He also has served as board chair of the worldwide Ohio State University Alumni Association.
Waltermire and his wife, Shirley, live in Green in Summit County and hope to spend additional time with family. One of their three grown children resides in New York City. The other two live in the Pacific Northwest, along with their two grandsons.
Waltermire grew up in the Akron area, and joined BFGoodrich in 1974, following degrees from The Ohio State University and the Harvard Business School. He held a range of financial, operating and general management positions, until becoming Geon’s CFO when it spun off from BFGoodrich in 1993. In 2000, as Geon chairman and CEO, he led the formation of the $3 billion PolyOne Corporation when Geon acquired Cleveland-based M.A. Hanna Company. PolyOne’s global polymer operations spanned 25 countries. He served as PolyOne chairman and CEO from its formation until late 2005, a record earnings year for the company.
- Tom Waltermire
- Staff Announcement