Document Type


Publication Date


Research Center

Center for Community Planning and Development


  • The Cleveland metro has the densest health science labor market in the nation, with 14.5% of the region’s workforce employed in high-skilled healthcare delivery. Cleveland is ahead of Philadelphia (14.1%) and Boston (14.1%).
  • Since 2002, healthcare and social assistance jobs in Cuyahoga County increased from approximately 104,500 to 131,700, with the aggregate income from those jobs growing from an inflation-adjusted $4.8 billion to $6.9 billion in 2016.
  • A significant amount of Cuyahoga County’s healthcare jobs are clustered in Cleveland’s Health Tech Corridor. In 2003, 26.4% of all healthcare and social assistance jobs in Cuyahoga County were in the Health Tech Corridor, increasing to 36.2% by 2015.
  • Total employment in the Health Tech Corridor increased from approximately 41,200 in 2002 to 75,000 in 2015—a gain of 82%. Also, about 1 out of every 20 jobs in Cuyahoga County were in the Health Tech Corridor in 2002, increasing to 1 out of 10 by 2015.
  • Much of the year-over-year job growth in the region is happening in the Health Tech Corridor. From 2014 to 2015, 25% of all job growth in the Cleveland metro occurred in the Health Tech Corridor, whereas 39% of Cuyahoga County’s job growth happened in the corridor.
  • The job growth in the Health Tech Corridor is associated with increased real estate valuations. Inflation-adjusted assessed values for all property types in the corridor went from $3.85 billion in 2009 to $4.72 billion in 2015—a gain of 23%.
  • The clustering of healthcare services in Cleveland—termed a “knowledge cluster” in the current analysis—relates to the fact healthcare has become tradable, or exportable. Cleveland not only brings patients into the region, but delivers services nationally and internationally.
  • While Cleveland excels as a “knowledge cluster” in healthcare, the region performs less well as a “knowledge hub,” described as the region’s ability to produce life science research. Cleveland ranked 22nd nationally in R&D funding from the National Institute of Health (NIH) in 2016.
  • The current analysis suggests state- and local-level policies should supplement seeding “downstream” innovation that facilitates start-up formation and technology transfer with the funding of “upstream” innovation that attracts “star scientists,” particularly in frontier fields.
  • In delineating frontier fields, the analysis borrows from the Four Sector Theory of economic development, which illustrates how a given nation’s or region’s economy evolves from primary (agriculture), to secondary (industrial), to tertiary (services), to quaternary (information). Today, Cleveland is still economically restructuring from a secondary to tertiary economy. Yet many regions are in the midst of a second economic restructuring from secondary/tertiary to quaternary, in which economic value is the data capital derived from a good or service, rather than the good for service itself. This data capital is the “oil” for the next-wave of innovation, principally in the fields of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning.
  • The analysis speculates on a potential “long game” for Cleveland in terms of developing an R&D hub in a frontier field, looking specifically at healthcare analytics. Due to regional assets, Cleveland can be a global node in population health research,in effect developing a data capital and AI/machine learning ecosystem that creates leading knowledge in the social determinants of health and reduction of health disparities.
  • A systematic, Cleveland-based intervention to reduce health disparities can be exported globally, igniting a tradable healthcare model that goes beyond selling services outside the region. This is a new type of economic development model operating as a global-local feedback loop. Here, the global export is the health of the local community.