Cincinnati’s booming center city should be obvious choice for CDK Global’s new operations center

It was announced earlier today that CDK Global, an integrated information technology and digital marketing provider for the retail and automotive retail industries, is looking at Southwest Ohio for a new facility that would house around 1,000 employees.

CDK Global LLC expects to create $45,000,000 in new annual payroll as the result of a 75 percent, 15-year job creation tax credit estimated to be worth $15,652,715 that was approved by the Ohio Tax Credit Authority on Monday. The tax credit will require CDK to maintain operations at its new site for the next 18 years and would retain $3,421,465 in existing payroll along with 80 jobs. CDK is expected to make $9,750,000 in capital investment as a result of the tax credit.

The move makes sense given the region’s strong marketing and retail presence, and its rapidly growing tech scene. According to the report from our content partners at the Business Courier, a specific site has not yet been selected. We would like to take this opportunity to point CDK Global to the center city where many of the region’s fastest-growing, most innovative and successful companies are locating. Plus, there are several great sites located directly on the first phase of the Cincinnati Streetcar that would only add to the experience and quality of life for CDK’s employees.

Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation Refocusing Efforts on Inclusive, Equitable Change

Recently, David Brooks wrote an article for the New York Times about Vice President Joe Biden. The article referenced Biden’s ‘Formation Story.’ Regardless of the politics of the article, we were drawn to this term. In order to be effective in civic work we must have a deep understanding of who we are and what drives us to get out of bed every day and fight.

Most people don’t realize that the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation has been around for almost 40 years. We were created by the community council in 1977 to develop quality affordable housing in a time when places like Walnut Hills were being abandoned and, in many cases, forgotten.

After decades of assorted success, the organization was at a crossroads five years ago. We could close our doors … or innovate into an organization that reimagines our role as much more. Having chosen the latter, we maintained that we didn’t just want to be a developer. We wanted to be a catalyst for sustainable and positive change. Partnerships with the Walnut Hills Area Council and Walnut Hills Business Group ignited that course, yet, we have still struggled to establish an identity.

Throughout this time we’ve asked big picture questions like ‘What is our purpose?’ ‘What do we value?’ and ‘What will we fight for?’ Recognizing the importance of community input, we posed these tough questions in the form of neighborhood listening sessions, survey collection, and through non-traditional engagement streams. As a result, our new brand was born.

Our new brand identity is a mash up of what we’ve heard in the community over the last four years. It reflects our relentless desire for equitable change and growth. It reflects community development that values the community organizing and boots on the ground strategy of the past and matches it with the modern day approaches to big, bold and innovative ideas that are driving urban expansion across the country. It is an inclusive brand that respects and celebrates the history and identity of Walnut Hills, while inviting new stakeholders to the table to contribute to our community’s growth.

Will inclusive and equitable change be easy? Will we always be as successful as we want to be? No. It will be hard. Damn hard. But we believe that we must do what’s hard. We believe that we must lead by example. And guess what? We can’t do it alone. This type of change is going to require your participation, through both successes and challenges. It’s going to require all of us to listen to each other, to inspire each other, to be agile, smart and strategic together.

We believe that the future of community development belongs to change agents and risk takers. Those who believe the impossible is possible. Are you one of those people? Are you ready?

Let’s go.

EDITORIAL NOTE: This letter was jointly authored by Kevin Wright, Executive Director of the WHRF, and Christina D. Brown, who serves as the organization’s president. Wright was a reporter for UrbanCincy in 2010, prior to taking on his leadership role in Walnut Hills.

Street Food Festival Returns to Streets of Walnut Hills This Saturday

Cincinnati Street Food Festival (2015)Walnut Hills will host the fourth annual Cincinnati Street Food Festival this Saturday, September 26. Event organizers say there will be music, art, drinks and, of course, food trucks.

There will be 15 food trucks, five live music acts, artists and drinks provided by Rhinegeist and Hopwater at this year’s festival. While none of the food trucks specifically focus on vegan or vegetarian dishes, several of the operators do offer those options.

The event has been organized each year by the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, which started the festival with the help of many sponsors and volunteers in back in 2012. The idea has been to celebrate the city’s diverse street food scene, while also bringing people to what was once Cincinnati’s second largest business district.

While the neighborhood has been struggling with a shrinking population and limited job opportunities, recent investments in the neighborhood have been encouraging. Over the past few years, several new businesses have opened up shop, and dozens of new residences have been developed.

In addition to that, Metro has announced that it will be making bus service upgrades for the area, and the WHRF continues to forge ahead with several new public space projects.

As a result, festival organizers see one of the main purposes of the event as showcasing these improvements and opportunities.

Organizers also say that they are proud to use proceeds from the Flying Pies booth to support UpSpring, a non-profit agency serving the education needs of homeless children and youth, and the Cincinnati Preschool Promise.

The Cincinnati Street Food Festival will take place along McMillan Street, between Hemlock and Chatham Streets, from 11am to 5pm. It is free and open to anyone interested in attending. Several Metro bus routes serve the area, and plenty of free bicycle parking is available in the immediate vicinity.

EDITORIAL NOTE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that proceeds from the festival would go to support UpSpring and the Cincinnati Preschool Promise. Proceeds from the festival will actually go to support the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation, while money collected from the Flying Pies booth will go to support UpSpring and the Cincinnati Preschool Promise.

Cincinnati Well-Positioned to Become America’s Air Pollution Leader

As if the Ohio River valley was already enough of a factor in the stagnation of air pollution in this region, now Cincinnati leaders have charted course on an effort that would advance the city’s ranking on the list of most polluted cities in America.

The list, released last month, shows that out of the top 100 metropolitan areas Cincinnati’s air quality is the eighth worst, with Cleveland coming in right behind us at number 10.

“We’re in a good position to close the gap to being in the top five over the next few years,” a layperson told UrbanCincy. “As long as our region keeps on driving everywhere those numbers are bound to increase.”

In fact, as construction continues on the new MLK Interchange along I-71, and the widening of I-75, the induced traffic demand from those two projects alone will allow for even more cars to become stuck on the region’s already gridlocked highways during rush hour.

“Widening highways to relieve traffic congestion is like an overweight person loosening their belt to lose weight,” someone smart once told us.

The $2.6 billion Brent Spence Bridge project, if it ever gets off the ground, would also do much to help push the region up the charts toward the most polluted city in America. In particular, many motorists look forward to the more pronounced smog and foggy orange haze expected to hang over the city and region for years to come.

Air quality is very important to Suburban Person, a financial analyst that works downtown. He tells UrbanCincy that he moved thirty miles out of the city just to escape the smog. Since he still works downtown he informed us he is sitting stuck in traffic on I-75 as of the writing of this article.

Time will tell if those evil progressive urbanists will get in the way of the grand plan by succeeding in actually passing some sort of regional mass transit plan, or even a streetcar extension, but until then the best way to the top is to keep on driving. Happy motoring everyone!

EDITORIAL NOTE: If it was not abundantly clear already, this is a satire post. No one should be proud of the fact that Cincinnati has the 8th worst air pollution in America.

Construction to Start on $29M South Hamilton Crossing Project This March

Hamilton city officials recently celebrated the announcement that Barclaycard would bring up to 1,500 jobs to Vora Technology Park for a new call center. Now, in almost perfect timing, public officials say they are ready to move forward with a $29 million project that will greatly improve access to the site.

Last week the OKI Regional Council of Governments awarded $3.75 million to the South Hamilton Crossing project. This is in addition to a previous allocation of $2.45 million from OKI, and $10 million from the State of Ohio. The remaining funds are coming from the City of Hamilton and Butler County.

“OKI’s support of the South Hamilton Crossing project is crucial to its success and illustrates how important the overpass is to our regional transit network,” City Manager Joshua Smith stated in a prepared release.

Hamilton has long been defined by its numerous freight railways. While they have been productive for the city, they have also served as barriers between neighborhoods since they typically operate at-grade.

The Jack Kirsch Underpass on High Street is the only grade-separated rail crossing in Hamilton that offers east-west flow. As a result, the South Hamilton Crossing has long been envisioned; with some plans showing it that date all the way back to 1911.

As of now, Grand Boulevard terminates at the CSX and Norfolk Southern tracks in Lindenwald. People walking, biking or driving must then head north along Central Avenue and then cut across the four railroad tracks diagonally.

This new project will extend Grand Boulevard to the west to University Boulevard, serving Vora Technology Park and Miami University Hamilton. Instead of crossing the four railroad tracks, the extended road will bridge them, thus offering fewer conflicts for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, along with fewer restrictions for freight operators.

“SHX is very important for both safety and economic reasons,” said Smith. “With the recent announcement that Barclaycard is opening a 1,500 person facility at Vora Technology Park, the need for better access to the area is more important now than ever.”

Transportation officials say that 56 trains travel through this crossing on a daily basis, which results in its blockage a total of 15.3% of the time. As a result, the new overpass is expected to greatly improve connectivity, reduce travel times, and increase safety.

Project leaders say that construction should begin in March 2016 and be completed in mid-2018.