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Work NextStep Small Business Program

NextStep Small Business Program

September 2017 - April 2018

Program Staff & Speakers

Program Staff

N. Michael Obi

N. Michael Obi

Chairmain, Spectrum Global Solutions, LLC

Michael Obi is the Chairman and CEO of Spectrum Global. He helps economic development organizations develop robust and inclusive entrepreneur initiatives to accelerate the growth of businesses and job creation in communities. In 2008, he successfully led his company in the purchase of development rights for Little Caesars Pizza in the Cleveland area. Spectrum currently operates four Little Caesars stores in Northeast Ohio and employs over 40 associates. In Michael's own words "our stores are great instruments in the community to prepare young adults to be great business people and to possess strong work ethics." In following... more

Michael Obi is the Chairman and CEO of Spectrum Global. He helps economic development organizations develop robust and inclusive entrepreneur initiatives to accelerate the growth of businesses and job creation in communities.

In 2008, he successfully led his company in the purchase of development rights for Little Caesars Pizza in the Cleveland area. Spectrum currently operates four Little Caesars stores in Northeast Ohio and employs over 40 associates. In Michael's own words "our stores are great instruments in the community to prepare young adults to be great business people and to possess strong work ethics."

In following with his passion that minorities should be more involved in entrepreneurship and job creation, he led the effort that established the Entrepreneurship Center at the Urban League of Greater Cleveland in 2004. This model has now been replicated across 12 US cities. Spectrum continues to oversee the operations and strategies for the Entrepreneurship Center that helps over 700 clients per year to launch, grow and sustain thriving businesses in Northeast Ohio.

Michael earned his bachelor's degree in accounting and M.B.A. in Finance from the University of North Florida's Coggin School of Business in Jacksonville, Florida. He has held executive leadership positions with various banks such as, Bank of America, Wells Fargo and SunTrust. Prior to launching Spectrum, he served as Senior Vice President for KeyBank's Retail and Business Banking Segments where he led the Sales and Service Effectiveness Group. KeyBank awarded him the Chairman's Award of Excellence, the highest honor given to its staff for high performance. Michael spent a total of 17 years in banking and financial services industry with in depth expertise in corporate banking, small business and retail banking, an unusual combination.

Michael is active in the community where he serves on the following boards: Cleveland Citywide Development Corporation (CCDC), Council of Small Enterprises (COSE), Presidents Council Business Chamber (Chairman), United Cerebral Palsy (UCP), and Opera Cleveland (2003 to 2010). He is a Partner with Social Venture Partners (SVP). He is a member of the Leadership Cleveland Class of 2016. Michael and his wife, Anulika, are blessed with three children. They are active members of New Song Church in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where they help support global missions.

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Laura Kleinman

Laura Kleinman

Vice President, University Circle Inc.

Laura Kleinman serves as Vice President of Services for University Circle Inc. In this role, she oversees the delivery of district-wide place management services that keep the area clean, safe, and attractive. Additionally, she oversees UCI's community services including education, small business support, and outreach. In 2014, she launched UCI's NextStep program and has since supported the development and growth of 26 local business owners. Prior to this role, Ms. Kleinman served as the Director of the Cleveland Cultural Collaborative, which identified and implemented cost cutting and earned revenue opportunities for three University Circle cultural... more

Laura Kleinman serves as Vice President of Services for University Circle Inc. In this role, she oversees the delivery of district-wide place management services that keep the area clean, safe, and attractive. Additionally, she oversees UCI's community services including education, small business support, and outreach. In 2014, she launched UCI's NextStep program and has since supported the development and growth of 26 local business owners. Prior to this role, Ms. Kleinman served as the Director of the Cleveland Cultural Collaborative, which identified and implemented cost cutting and earned revenue opportunities for three University Circle cultural institutions.

Prior to joining UCI, from 1999-2006, Ms. Kleinman served as Business Development Manager and Enterprise Center Manager for ShoreBank Enterprise Cleveland. Ms. Kleinman was responsible for generating deals for the organization's non-bank finance fund, targeted to small businesses unable to obtain conventional capital. Ms. Kleinman managed a portfolio of $1.5 million consisting of 12 companies, primarily in the construction industry, where she structured deals with letters of credit and working capital lines of credit.

Ms. Kleinman received her Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Studies from Cornell University and a Masters in Business Administration from The Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. In 2010, Ms. Kleinman received her Certificate in Business District Management through the National Center for Public Performance at Rutgers University's School of Public Affairs and Administration. She currently serves on the executive committees of the boards of the Cleveland Hearing and Speech Center and The Hebrew Free Loan Association. Ms. Kleinman lives in the Shaker Square neighborhood of Cleveland with her husband and two sons.

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