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Cleveland Gets its Own Blockchain Initiative

The city of Cleveland in Ohio is looking to revamp itself as a national tech hub, launching its own blockchain initiative to promote the local industry.

Blockchain evangelist Bernie Moreno recently featured on NPR Morning Edition where he tried to sell the idea to the rest of America: “If you’re going to have a blockchain startup, this is the place you do it… If you’re going to invest in blockchain startups, this is the place I would invest in. If you’re a developer [or] you’re a student who wants to do blockchain development, Cleveland is the place you do it.”

Cleveland is home to several significant blockchain projects, also including Votem, a startup testing the decentralized technology for voting during elections using a mobile phone application.

A ”Blockland Cleveland” is in the works for next month, which Moreno organized with the support of civic leaders

In the nearby Canadian city of Toronto, managing director of the Blockchain Research Institute Hilary Carter backed up Moreno on his plans for Cleveland, saying it is the only city outside of Canada looking to utilize their thought leadership.

She estimated that in order for Cleveland to succeed in its initiative, around 1,000 software developers would be required to start around a dozen local startups. Moreno says he is prepared for this influx, with plans to open a 100,000 square foot campus with a K 12 school to incubate the companies.

Do Clevelanders know blockchain?

But for a potential blockchain hub, the general residents do not have a particularly coherent understanding of the technology.

Waverly Willis, a barber who proudly introduced himself as the first in his profession in the city to accept Bitcoin payments, told NPR “It’s regular blue-collar guys that’s saying, ‘why do I need to know about this stuff?’ And so you need a guy like me to explain it.”

Both Willis and Moreno recognized that a blockchain movement would need to expand beyond academic and business leaders into the general public.


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Ohio Joins US State Level Blockchain Goldrush

The US state of Ohio is following other states in showing interest in blockchain technology and how it can be applied to the economy in that state.

At a press conference on August 23, Speaker of the Ohio House Ryan Smith assembled members of the House leadership and Ohio’s general assembly along with representations from the law, business, and academic sectors to discuss possible implementation.

The state is not new to the concept, having passed an amendment to the Uniform Electronic Transactions Act earlier this year adding, “a record or contract that is secured through blockchain technology is considered to be in an electronic form and to be an electronic record,” thus providing a safe harbour for the emerging technology.

Ohio is certainly not the first US state to take this route as Nebraska, Florida, Arizona, Nevada, and Vermont, along with Maine, Hawaii, Illinois, and North Dakota are some of the many US states notably either in the process of presenting bills, enacting legislation or actively utilizing blockchain in state legislation.

Speaker Smith suggested that DLT would have numerous applications in the state and cited common storage requirements such as securing birth certificates and marriage licenses as a simple case in point. His aim is to work with universities so that students are encouraged to become involved in the new technology early on, thus helping them secure work for the future and bring their expertise to the State.

Smith is not the first though, to suggest his or her state as a possible blockchain hub. New York earlier this year set its sights on the same target when the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced several initiatives that pursue ambitions of becoming a blockchain technology hub. The state has rather set out its stall for the title given that the NYCED holds the annual New York Blockchain Week there with crypto events all over the city attracting big names in the industry as guest speakers.

However, Smith is optimistic, suggesting, “Because this is so new and this is just beginning to take shape, we can position Ohio out front.”

Time will tell, but the state rush to become a leader in blockchain adoption is very much on.

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