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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