Engage Cuba Launches State Council in Ohio; Ohioans Tout Economic Benefits of U.S-Cuba Relations for Agriculture and Business Interests

Washington, D.C. — Engage Cuba, the leading coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba, today announced that prominent Ohio business and community leaders have joined together as part of its new Ohio State Council. Members of the council, who represent a wide array of local industries, are calling for an end to the longtime trade embargo with Cuba in order to benefit Ohio business and agriculture interests. 

Changing U.S. policy towards Cuba could help Ohio boost its agriculture exports, currently ranked 10th among U.S. states. In addition, lifting the embargo would help open up an exciting market for Ohio businesses with more than 11 million potential consumers. Among the prominent members of the Ohio State Council are Dr. Michael Drake, President of The Ohio State University; Jane Campbell, former Mayor of Cleveland; Brad Moffitt, Director of Market Development of the Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association; and Ronald Richard, President and CEO of The Cleveland Foundation. 

This announcement comes on the heels of an Atlantic Council poll that found that 78 percent of Ohioans from both political parties support the lifting of the trade embargo and travel restrictions, and endorse the restoration of diplomatic relations.

“We are excited to bring together business, academic, Cuban-American, and civic leaders in support of lifting the Cuba embargo and opening travel,” said James Williams, President of Engage Cuba. “This failed policy has cost Ohio far too many jobs and blocked local businesses from bringing their products to a new market. It is time for leaders in Washington to listen to the people of Ohio and engage with Cuba.”

“The agribusiness sector represents one of the fundamental pillars of our state’s economy,” said Brad Moffitt, Director of Market Development, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association. “Cuba represents an exciting new market with more than 11 million potential customers for our farmers. Now is the time for trade with the Cuban people are facing critical shortages in goods that Ohio farmers make.”

The Engage Cuba Ohio State Council is made up of leading Ohioans who each bring deep expertise of the state’s economic and cultural needs. The full list of the Ohio State Council members include:

·         Luis Alcalde, Attorney, Kegler Brown

·         James W. Campbell, MD, Director, Geriatric Center, The MetroHealth System

·         Jane L. Campbell, Former Mayor of Cleveland

·         The Rev. Joan Brown Campbell, Former President of World Council of Churches and                     Director of Religion at Chautauqua Institution

·         Luis Cartagena, Chairman, Northeast Ohio Hispanic Center for Economic Development

·         Chris Cua, Director of Franchise Sales, Choice Hotels International

·         Michael V. Drake, MD, President, The Ohio State University

·         José C. Feliciano, Jr., Board of Directors, The Hispanic Roundtable

·         Jim Hartung, Managing Director, Port-Development Solutions LLC; President of Toledo,               Sister Cities International Board; Former CEO of the Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority

·         David Hershberger, President, Prestige Travel Leaders Inc.; ASTA National Board Member

·         Richard Konick, Charter Member, Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Coalition

·         Brad Moffitt, Director of Market Development, Ohio Corn & Wheat Growers Association

·         August A. Napoli, Jr., Deputy Director and Chief Advancement Officer, Cleveland Museum             of Art

·         Procter & Gamble

·         Ohio AgriBusiness Association

·         Ohio Farm Bureau

·         Ronald B. Richard, President and Chief Executive Officer, The Cleveland Foundation

·         Ike Reynolds, CTC-President and Owner; ASTA Mid-America Board Member

·         Patrick Reynolds, Vice President, Reynolds Travel; ATSA Mid-America Treasurer

·         Dr. Milton Sanchez-Parodi, MD, Doctor and Cuban-American Community Leader

·         Steven D. Standley, Chief Administrative Officer, University Hospitals of Cleveland

·         Adam Ward, Executive Director, Ohio Soybean Association

·         Lee C. Weingart, Founder and President, LNE Group

The Ohio State Council follows the formation of the Tennessee State Council as part of efforts by Engage Cuba, in partnership with the US Agriculture Coalition for Cuba and the American Society of Travel Agents, to build a network of state coalitions to demonstrate the grassroots support of community leaders around the country who believe in the need for change in the United States’ relationship with Cuba.

About Engage Cuba
 Engage Cuba is the leading, bipartisan coalition of private companies and organizations working to end the travel and trade embargo on Cuba. Engage Cuba works to expand its coalition of support throughout the country, while also facilitating relationships between U.S. businesses and Cuba and lobbying Congress to lift the embargo. Engage Cuba is the only organization whose primary focus is U.S.-Cuba legislative advocacy.