Episode #32: Spring Update

Uber appOn the 32nd episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Randy, John, and Travis cover a few local issues recently in the news.

We cover the launch of Lyft and Uber in Cincinnati and what it could mean for local cab companies. We also talk about the proposed renovation of Burnet Woods and several other Uptown developments. Finally, we talk about the opposition to tolls on the Brent Spence Bridge and whether the bridge can be built without that funding source.

Celebrating a Great 2013 While Looking Ahead to Our Eighth Year

Another year has come and gone, and I wanted to take this opportunity to recap some of the highlights from 2013 while also looking to the future.

Our readership remained constant in 2013, with accelerated growth in Q4. We expect readership levels to hold at those increased Q4 rates throughout 2014, while recording some additional modest growth. Perhaps not surprisingly, our biggest month was December when the streetcar battle culminated.

More people listened to The UrbanCincy Podcast – now entering its second year – than ever before. The most popular episode last year was our yearly recap at the start of 2013 followed by our interviews with David Ginsburg from DCI and Kevin Wright from the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation. Overall we had more than 109,000 downloads of The UrbanCincy Podcast in 2013 and averaged nearly 7,000 downloads per episode.

UrbanCincy Readership Trends

Staff Changes
Our staff also grew and changed a bit last year. As many of you know, I am temporarily on assignment in Seoul and John Yung has become our local area manager. Travis Estell continues to serve as our technologist and podcast manager, while Jake Mecklenborg continues to perform in-depth reporting on transportation issues and produce much of our photography.

We added two new staff writers in 2013 as well – Caitlin Behle and Paige Mallot. They will be covering a variety of topics, but will help expand UrbanCincy’s coverage of arts and entertainment. A third new staff writer – Jacob Fessler – has contributed some already, but will begin his work covering the region’s urban economics and industry in 2014. We also began working with the talented Nate Wessel and Andrew Stahlke to produce custom maps and videos that complement our stories.

We have an incredible team and none of this would be possible without their dedication and hard work. If you see them out and about, you should treat them to a cup coffee or a glass of beer.

Partnerships
In February we entered into an agreement with the Niehoff Urban Studio to produce events that highlight the interdisciplinary work and research performed by students at the University of Cincinnati. That led to our Metropolis & Mobility event in April and our Urbanist Candidates Forum just prior to November’s election.

We have continued to bolster our exclusive partnership with the Business Courier as well. In addition to our readers getting discounted access to a digital premium subscription, we are also sharing more of our content with them so that our reporting on the city reaches an even larger audience in both print and on the web.

In 2014 we hope to enter into additional partnerships that will help get our content to even more people throughout the region and engage more people with the city.

Events
After starting URBANexchange in 2012, we have continued to host the monthly social event at the Moerlein Lager House. Now typically on the first Thursdays of each month, the events consistently draw a diverse collection of 20 to 40 people interested in urbanism. Many of these people are either new to Cincinnati or are looking to get more involved, and I am happy to say that these events are helping grow Cincinnati’s urbanist community.

In 2014 we will continue hosting the events and continue to engage you with area policy makers and influencers, and work to gather your thoughts and ideas about important policy issues. Plus, we hope to keep giving away unique prizes. Hopefully you can join us at our first URBANexchange of the New Year on Thursday, January 9 from 5:30pm to 8:30pm in the Moerlein Lager House’s biergarten.

Urbanist Candidates Forum

Content
One of the things UrbanCincy has always tried to do is connect area residents and visitors with the things happening in the city. This is still true today, but we are now fortunate to have a national audience. So while our focus is still on providing local coverage of public policy, urban design, transportation, arts and culture, we are now also connecting people from around the country with what is taking place here.

In 2013 we published 145 original stories, published 10 perspectives from readers in guest editorials, shared 103 of our insights about what we thought was interesting news from elsewhere in our Up To Speed posts, and produced 16 podcasts. Our ten most read stories in 2013 were:

  1. December 2, 2013: The Day Chaos Ruled City Hall: http://urbn.cc/p3ri
  2. Proposed 210-Unit Apartment Development Would Demolish Historic Christy’s & Lenhardt’s: http://urbn.cc/p2xy
  3. Final Designs Revealed for $125M Dunnhumby Centre Tower: http://urbn.cc/p3i3
  4. Pogue’s Garage to Make Way for 30-Story Residential Tower, Grocery Store: http://urbn.cc/p2yx
  5. EDITORIAL: Localizing Operating Costs for Streetcar Sets Dangerous Precedent: http://urbn.cc/p3sl
  6. GUEST EDITORIAL: Get Over It, Then Get Ready: http://urbn.cc/p3pk
  7. GUEST EDITORIAL: Horseshoe Casino Fails to Deliver on Urban Design: http://urbn.cc/p2zb
  8. IMAGE: Cincinnati to Grow Taller in the Coming Years: http://urbn.cc/p37p
  9. PHOTOS: Historic Glencoe-Auburn Place Row Houses Are Being Demolished: http://urbn.cc/p31l
  10. The Plot Continues to Thicken for Cincinnati’s $133M Streetcar Project: http://urbn.cc/p3s7

We also had two other stories that garnered a significant amount of interest by the way of comments, but didn’t crack the top ten for readership. The story readers commented on the most in 2013 was Paige’s opinion piece about Diner En Blanc held at Washington Park (104), and the second most comments (89) were left on our editorial calling for the consolidation of local governments in Hamilton County.

Our team also traveled to help bring additional perspective from other cities throughout the country and abroad. In 2013 John brought you stories from Europe and Portland; Jake traveled to Nashville; and I filed reports from Kansas City, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seoul and Chicago. We will continue to use our travel to bring even more perspective into the issues we cover in Cincinnati. In 2014 we have already planned reports from Denver, Houston, Dallas, Minneapolis, Bangkok, Seattle, Hong Kong, Seoul, Nashville and Atlanta.

In 2014 you will also see us advocate more for specific projects and policy recommendations, based on our research and collaborations. In the past we have advocated for changing the city’s parking requirements, overhauling the city’s zoning code, and how to use the Riverfront Transit Center. In the coming weeks you will hear even more specific solutions from our team about how to address various problems and opportunities in our city today.

It has been nearly seven years since UrbanCincy started, and we are thrilled it is has become one of the largest independent sources for news in the region, and one of the most well-read websites focused on urbanism in the country.

We have some big plans for the year ahead and we hope that you will stick along for the ride. And while you’re at it, why don’t you bring a few friends. Thanks for all of your support.

Episode #8: Bicycle Infrastructure

 On the eighth episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Mel McVay from Cincinnati’s Department of Transportation and Engineering joins the UrbanCincy team to discuss bicycling in the city. We learn how the city decides when and where to install sharrows, bike lanes, and cycle tracks, and how the city deals with narrow streets, challenging geography, and on-street parking when planning bike facilities. We speculate on future plans for the I-75 corridor and Western Hills Viaduct, and get a preview of several improvements coming soon to that corridor.

We also discuss how far Cincinnati’s bicycling culture has come in the past several years, such as the booming popularity of the Thursday Night Slow and Steady ride, the Urban Basin Bicycle Club, and several other themed bicycle events.

Photo: The Urban Basin Bicycle Club gathers on Fountain Square before departing for a ride through the center city. Photograph by 5chw4r7z.

Show Links:

Episode #2: Transportation Poverty

On the second episode of The UrbanCincy Podcast, Randy, Jake, and Travis discuss the transportation poverty faced by senior citizens in Cincinnati and other U.S. cities. We also discuss the problem of suburban developers externalizing their costs onto taxpayers, and we address listener feedback from our discussion on bus rapid transit (BRT) systems.

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Cincinnati designated consumer marketing Hub of Innovation & Opportunity

Ohio governor Ted Strickland traveled to Cincinnati on Friday, July 9th to officially announce Cincinnati’s newly appointed status as a Hub of Innovation and Opportunity in the area of Consumer Marketing for the state of Ohio.  With companies like P&G, Landor, Kroger and LPK located here, Cincinnati has long established itself as a global leader in the fields of marketing, branding and forward thinking.

“Cincinnati’s Hub designation will assist this region’s already strong business and educational community in attracting young creative talent, new companies and job opportunities in consumer marketing to Ohio,” Governor Strickland said to a packed house of dignitaries on Friday at LPK’s headquarters in downtown Cincinnati.  “Targeted investments in Ohio’s urban regions and businesses are a critical piece of our economic development strategy to create jobs and strengthen Ohio’s economy.”

The Hub designation is much more than a point of civic pride. According to the Ohio Department of Development, the Ohio Hubs are envisioned as regional economic development initiatives that build upon leading assets in our urban centers to accomplish three major goals:

  1. Propel innovation through cutting-edge, market-driven applied technology and knowledge spillover;
  2. Foster the opportunity for job creation and retention; and
  3. Catalyze the formation of new companies in the region, while at the same time helping to ensure that Ohio’s existing industries retain their competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Now more than ever, the state of Ohio seems committed to investing in Cincinnati’s comparative advantages. The $415 million the state has invested in the city has already translated into $2.3 billion in development. The Consumer Marketing Hub of Innovation and Opportunity will focus on promoting entrepreneurship, economic development and commercialization in the consumer marketing industry, providing the intelligence, insight, innovation, and infrastructure to sell Ohio’s products and services. The designation comes with $250,000 in seed money for the city intended to spur growth, encourage entrepreneurs and attract and retain creative talent in the area.

“The Ohio Hubs are vital to the continued economic success of our state’s communities,” said Mark Barbash, Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Development. “Today’s investment in the Cincinnati region will further enhance Southwest Ohio as a globally recognized hot-spot for consumer marketing and branding.”

Further illustrating Cincinnati’s dominance in the consumer marketing industry, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, Procter & Gamble, Kroger Company, the University of Cincinnati and Macy’s have partnered in order to strengthen and create job opportunities in Ohio’s consumer marketing industry.  Other local companies, including branding firms Landor, Bridge Worldwide, and LPK, and consumer marketing service companies such as Dunnhumby USA and AC Nielsen/Buzzmetrics have also committed to support this effort.

Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls spoke at the event, connecting the Hub designation to the recent announcement of money received from the federal government for the Cincinnati Streetcar.  “These announcements are transformative for the greater Cincinnati region.” Qualls said.

“The hub designation strengthens partnerships and creates new opportunities for the citizens of Cincinnati, and the streetcar will now physically connect the Central Business District to the Uptown/University area – the city’s two larges employment areas. These projects are an investment in attracting and keeping the creative class, and they will help make this a great place to live for young folks who are the anchor of this region”

The Cincinnati Regional Action Plan states the goal of creating 200,000 new jobs by 2020. Local business leaders believe the hub designation will help Cincinnati hire even more creatives who are looking to stay in the region.