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Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village Adviser Michael Klein Promises to Finish Project

Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village Adviser Michael Klein Promises to Finish Project

04/20/2018
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Story originally posted on 4/19/18 by Alison Matas/The Canton Repository

 

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The commissioner of the NFL called Michael Klein to persuade him to come to Canton.

“Somehow David (Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame president) had Roger Goodell call me at home on the weekend, at the beach,” Klein, the managing partner of advisory firm M. Klein and Company told a crowd of hundreds Thursday.

Goodell on the phone call told Klein that Baker was for real and that the Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village project was important to the NFL.

“And when you get asked like that,” Klein said, “you do it.”

Klein was the keynote speaker Thursday at the 104th-annual Canton Regional Chamber of Commerce dinner at the Canton Memorial Civic Center. He is managing partner of M. Klein and Company, a boutique advisory firm based in New York City that has signed on to provide financial and strategic advice for the development of the Village.

David Baker, president of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, introduced Klein on Thursday by saying he’s spent his career hearing about “that guy” who with one phone call can connect you to whomever you need.

“I never found that guy,” Baker said. ”’Til now. This guy can turn it on.”

Klein worked for Citigroup for more than 20 years. He was special adviser to the prime minister of the United Kingdom during the financial crisis, and his firm was the lead adviser for Dow Chemical during a $130 billion merger with DuPont. M. Klein and Company also owns a registered broker dealer called the Klein Group.

With the Village project, M. Klein and Company will be providing advice and helping with financing. Klein already has pitched the Village concept to potential investors in the United States and in Saudi Arabia.

Several members of the Klein company sit on the new operating board that is overseeing development of the Village, and Klein is the board’s chairman. He’s started searching for a home in Stark County.

Because the Klein company is a small team, its members are selective about the projects they take on. Criteria include making sure involvement will add value and making sure it’s something the company believes in.

The Village development was attractive, Klein said, because the idea was compelling, because Johnson Controls is “a fantasically fine company,” and because the NFL commissioner stressed the project matters to the league.

Several people affiliated with the company on Thursday talked about their love for football and their excitement about being able to work on a project that has the potential to change a community.

“This is really, really interesting, and you don’t get challenges and opportunities like this in your career,” said Michael Eck, a representative of the Klein company who also sits on the Village’s operating board.

During his speech Thursday, Klein gave his word that everything that has been envisioned for the project eventually will be completed.

“I know Canton has been waiting for Johnson Controls Hall of Fame Village, and to you, just like to me, I would say good things come to those who wait,” Klein said.

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