It’s safe to say Joe Marinucci has been one of Cleveland’s biggest champions. As the founding president and CEO of the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, he will retire at the end of April after years dedicated to breathing new life into the city. In charge of the Alliance since its 2006 inception — and the Downtown Cleveland Partnership before that — Marinucci built his career on the twin pillars of teamwork and collaboration. And, by any measure, it’s all been a success: the DCA has proven instrumental in bringing more than 20,000 residents downtown, hosting the Republican National Convention in 2016 and helping the city navigate the devastating COVID-19 pandemic. Marinucci shares lessons he learned from a life spent reshaping downtown Cleveland.
Although I was born in Italy and migrated to Cleveland as a young child, I’ve always considered Cleveland home.
I grew up here, so my passion for this city is personal. I wanted to be a part of Cleveland’s success.
Change is inevitable. For a large part of our history, downtown Cleveland was a 9-5 market with lots of Fortune 500 office space, but the world changed and we had to change with it.
We really focused on housing. Adding housing attracts new residents — and they bring with them a new vibrancy.
Yes, we’re still the largest jobs hub in Ohio, but we reached our goal of 20,000 residents and now hope to push that to 25,000.
I believe in laying the foundation first and trusting that it will ultimately yield long-term success.
For example, we created a National Historic District along Euclid Avenue, which meant we were ready to take full advantage of new state tax credits to transform the area from empty buildings into a mixed-use smart street.
I will always remember 2016. From the RNC to the Cavaliers championship parade and Indians World Series games, the national recognition our community received was priceless. By any definition, that was a banner year.
Collaboration is key. We try to bring everyone — property owners, stakeholders, businesses — to the table because nothing gets done without strong partners.
As the world comes out of the pandemic, people need to rediscover downtown Cleveland. It’s our job to bring them back.
Millennials and Generation Z want experiences that only downtown can offer — like Cleveland’s culinary, entertainment and retail growth. If we continue to connect people with these experiences, the future of downtown Cleveland is bright.