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Profile of the Week
Name: Anthony Gonzalez
Current Job: Congressman for Ohio’s 16th District
Favorite restaurant in town? Townhall
Favorite thing about Cleveland? The grit and determination Clevelanders have to band together and get things done.
Q: Congressman Gonzalez, obviously most people know you as a star football player who played at Ohio State and in the NFL. What many don't know, is you have a Stanford MBA and worked at a tech startup. Can you tell us about your time in the Bay Area? Well, the best thing that came out of my time in the Bay Area is that is where I met my wife, Elizabeth. On top of that, my main goal for my time out west was to diversify my business knowledge in the technology world so that I could apply that know-how back home. While I believe that Northeast Ohio can and should always place a very heavy emphasis on the manufacturing industry, I also believe that we need to find a way to participate in the digital economy. My time at Stanford and working in the tech sector was intentional so that I could bring that knowledge and skill-set back to Ohio.
Q: One of your roles is being a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology (NASA Glenn is in Congressman Gonzalez's district), what is some of the bills you are working on in that committee Right now I’m working on a bill to combat manipulated media content known as “deepfakes” that has the potential to deceive the public and endanger our national security. Deepfakes aren’t a new phenomenon – they made an appearance in Forrest Gump – but rapid advances in technology over the past few years has put this technology in the hands of the masses with the ability to make it look like anyone said anything anywhere. That’s dangerous when you look at the potential effects of misinformation. The bill passed out of the committee just one week after I introduced it, which might be a new record.
I’ve also introduced the Securing American Science and Technology Act of 2019, known as SASTA, to address academic espionage at colleges and universities like Case Western and Ohio State. Universities throughout our state are on the cutting edge of innovation and advancement. This makes our research programs a target for nations like China, who we know are actively stealing our intellectual property and world-renowned research and development. It is critical for our national security and economic future that we do a better job preventing this form of foreign hostility and promote the great work being done at universities across our nation.
Q: Congressman, you just visited San Francisco with some local Cleveland people (full disclosure, I was on the trip). What were some of the takeaways from the trip One of the big components of our nation’s economic future is going to be in the technology sector, and there’s no reason that Northeast Ohio can’t or shouldn’t be a big part of that. We have incredible resources that are valuable assets to the Silicon Valley tech community – we have the labor force, the manufacturing infrastructure, the great researchers and universities, and on top of that, we have far lower housing and living costs than California. With this trip, I wanted to put Cleveland on the radar of some of these tech companies and learn how we can better promote Cleveland so that when some of these larger tech companies look to grow and expand they do it here.
Q: You have been vocal about China being a threat to innovation in America. How is Congress, combatting that threat to ensure America is staying as a leader in the innovation economy? I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger China-hawk than me on either of the committees I sit on. Firstly, one of the bills I’m working on – SASTA, mentioned above – is aimed directly at protecting American research and innovation from academic espionage at the hands of China. You can learn more about that bill here.
Beyond that, I think it is critical that America successfully negotiate a new trade deal with China that will better defend against IP theft while also protecting American farmers and entrepreneurs looking to sell their goods abroad. In the past, China has forced our companies to transfer valuable intellectual property in order to do business in their country, which they then use to duplicate our products and undercut our prices. This is happening in every sector of the economy and works to undermine our workers as they are forced to compete with two hands tied behind their backs. This needs to end, and right now the most valuable thing Congress can do towards that end is to pass the USMCA trade deal negotiated with Canada and Mexico because it has many important provisions in the innovation economy that will serve as a basis for the negotiation with China.
Q: What’s one thing your most proud of from your first nine months in Congress? I am most proud of the work that we have done providing outstanding constituent services to the district. Ralph Regula, who held this seat for over 40 years, had a saying "Constituents first." One way that we try to honor his legacy is by committing the office to doing just that. One way we do this is by bringing federal grand dollars back into the district. In the third quarter alone, my office has secured nearly $6 million in federal grant funding for causes like combatting domestic violence, serving disabled veterans through adaptive sports programs and improving local transportation infrastructure at Wayne County Airport. These are all critically important assets to our community here in Northeast Ohio that wouldn’t be possible without federal dollars to help them get on their feet. It is a real difference being made in our community that my constituents will be able to see and feel. It is moments like that when I am most humbled to be able to do this job and serve my community.
Constituents can send Congressman Gonzalez an email through his website at anthonygonzalez.house.gov/contact.
Aztek Web: Paid Media Associate
This Week’s Events
JobsOhio Tech Talent (Tuesday, November 12th)
Exponential Edge (Friday, November 15th)
Blockland Cleveland (December 9th-11th)
Crain’s Cleveland: Gener8tor to launch startup accelerator programs in Cleveland in 2020, including one for bands and musicians
Crain’s Cleveland: Source Lunch with ... Mike Conley, chief information officer, Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland Plain-Dealer: Cleveland Rising: Big Bang or Flash in the Pan?
Let me know if your company is hiring
Let me know if you are hosting an event
If you are interested or know someone who would be interested in being highlighted for our profile of the week, let me know.
About The Author
My name is Ari Lewis and I do comms/pr for technology companies and am a partner at venture capital firm focused on blockchain companies. Follow me on twitter @amlewis4 or connect with me on LinkedIn. Always open to meeting new folks. Email me if you want to get coffee.