Ribbon Cut On CLE Convention Center

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CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Political and business leaders Friday cut the ceremonial ribbon on Cleveland's new convention center -- a center they hope will usher in a new era of economic growth in the downtown area.

"There is a new day in Cleveland, Ohio," said Chris Connor, the CEO of Sherwin Williams. "And this facility will serve as an economic engine for our community for decades and decades to come."

The $465 million project, which includes the connected Global Center for Health Innovation, has been completed three months early and millions of dollars under budget.

In fact, County Executive Ed FitzGerald said there is a $90 million surplus that includes money left over from the quarter-cent sales tax imposed by the now-defunct county commission. That's the tax that paid for the complex.

FitzGerald said the money would be used to pursue a long-sought dream.

"We're going to end up connecting not just the convention center, but also Public Square to the lakefront in a way that's only been talked about for many decades," he said.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson praised FitzGerald but also acknowledged the "political courage" it took for commissioners Tim Hagan and Jimmy Dimora to vote for the tax.

Jackson praised Hagan by name for "his vision," and spoke of those "who voted with him" without naming Dimora.

Dimora, of course, has since by convicted on corruption charges and is now in federal prison.

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