Federal Reserve Has Rosy Outlook for Cincinnati’s Over-Performing Economy

A spring 2015 update on the economic health of the Cincinnati region from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland gives reason for optimism when it comes to the area’s recovery.

The Cincinnati metropolitan area is recovering at a rate equal to that of the nation, and production, income, and GDP are all up in the area. LaVaughn Henry, vice president and senior regional officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland’s Cincinnati Branch, cited the area’s diversified economy as one reason for robust growth.

More specifically, the Fed pointed to Cincinnati’s large employment percentages in the consumer marketing field as a reason for its success. As the nation continues to recover and consumer confidence and consumption rise, Cincinnati is poised to benefit at a greater rate than other metropolitan areas.

Further bolstering the region’s growth are the construction and manufacturing sectors, having grown 7% and 4% over the last year, respectively. Healthcare and education are also growing, while the area’s business and professional sectors are lagging behind national averages.

Overall Cincinnati’s performance seems to be mirroring that of the nation, with high growth in manufacturing and construction, stagnant growth in government, and large drops in the information sector.

The region’s employment rate now stands at 4.5%, nearly a point lower than the national average and the lowest level in 10 years. The average Cincinnatian is seeing the fruits of this economic growth, with wages growing faster than the rest of Ohio and other nearby metros. Henry says that wages are poised to reach an average of $840 a week – a level not seen since 2007.

The region, however, has not yet managed to reach pre-Recession employment levels. This is in line with the national trend, although behind local metropolitan areas.

The Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland also cited recent announcements from companies planning major job expansions as reason for continued optimism that the area’s employment growth will continue. While the local housing market has seen sluggish growth, the Henry says that shrinking housing supply and increased construction will strengthen the sector.

It’s Time to Start Allowing Our Children to Walk to School Again

It’s Opening Day. That means many of you may be “staying home sick” from work or school today in order to “rest up.” We get that. In fact, two of our writers took the day off their normal routines in order to be able to participate in Opening Day festivities.

In any case, this break from our normal schedules gives us a good opportunity to look at something we should get back in the habit of doing once we collectively recover later this evening. That something is walking. And for those of you with children, that means having your children walk to school.

Just a few short decades ago, it was estimated that almost half of all children walked to school each day. That’s a great thing. It means more independence, more physical activity, more bonding with other neighborhood children, and a stronger relationship with one’s city. It also means less congestion on our roadways and fewer emissions. All in all it’s one of those rare win-win-win-win-win-wins.

Unfortunately, it is now estimated that only 10% of children walk to school today. Ten percent.

American policymakers have tried to combat this in recent years with the Safe Routes to School Program. Instead of it encouraging parents to have their children walk to school. SRTS merely attempts to fix decades of investment that have focused almost entirely on accommodating people driving cars. This has left most all communities built over the past 30 years inhospitable to anyone who wants to walk to get to their destination.

“Kids need to learn about a healthy lifestyle in school; and they need to learn how to integrate activity into their day,” said Dr. Elizabeth Joy, University of Utah, in the two-minute KCET City Walk film. “When it’s possible, kids need to walk to school, so that they learn about active transportation, and that when you have to go two, three, four blocks it doesn’t mean you get in the car. You can actually walk.”

Yes, you can actually walk.

VIDEO: Workers Looking To Make Up Lost Time On $86M Nippert Stadium Project

The exterior structure is now largely complete for the $86 million Nippert Stadium renovation and expansion project.

According to project manager Bob Marton, the construction team will now largely be focused on interior work, but that the exterior façade will really take shape over the next few weeks.

Similar to other construction projects around the city, the brutally cold and snowy weather lately has slowed down progress. Marton says, however, that they were able to shift some workers to interior projects, and that they will work some extra shifts to make up the lost time.

“We were able to put a lot of workers indoors, but the weather really slowed us down on the outside,” Marton explained in the latest project update. “We need to keep that work rolling as much as we can, because we want to get enclosed by the end of the month.”

He went on to say that the weather caused three to four days of delay. While work will continue to blaze ahead over the coming months in preparation of the University of Cincinnati’s home season football opener on Saturday, September 5 against Alabama A&M.

VIDEO: Smale Riverfront Park’s Carousel Taking Shape in Mansfield

Carol Ann’s Carousel is taking shape about three hours north of Cincinnati in Mansfield. It is there where master wood carvers are hand-crafting the $1 million showpiece for Smale Riverfront Park.

Carol Ann’s Carousel is being built by an Ohio company that claims to be world’s largest manufacturer of wooden carousels. Founded in 1986, Carousel Works has built dozens of the rides that are now in operation throughout North America. According to their employees, Cincinnati’s is one of the more unique and interesting projects they have worked on to-date.

“I’ve got to work on some really fun ones so far, but I have to say that the Cincinnati’s carousel is going to be really fantastic,” explained carver Tim Gorka. “I  really think it’s going to be a favorite of most of the people working here.”

The $4.5 million structure that will house the amusement ride is now largely in place, with the glass walls and roofing all in place just west of the Roebling Suspension Bridge along the central riverfront.

Project officials say that the progress is advancing according to plan, and that the 44-character carousel will open to the public on Saturday, May 16.

VIDEO: Experience What’s Driving Hamilton’s Ongoing Turnaround

A few months ago we decided to add Hamilton as one of our focus areas. The city is an historic urban center in the overall Cincinnati region, and has its own identity and news. Like many old cities around the United States, Hamilton has experienced some tough times, but is experiencing its own unique turnaround story.

In Hamilton, that turnaround has been focused along the Great Miami River. With the city’s central business district on one side, and charming historic districts surrounding it on both sides of the river, it makes complete sense that attention is focused there.

The positive momentum in Hamilton has been years in the making. The city posted a 2.6% population gain between 2000 and 2010, and never quite experienced the massive population loss many other old industrial cities did.

In addition to establishing one of the best urban school districts in Ohio, the city has long focused on establishing itself as a center for independent artists, and has looked at the Great Miami River as an exceptional opportunity to breathe new recreational opportunities into the city center. Quite simply, the progress is exciting.

A recent video put together by the City of Hamilton, Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, Community First Solutions and Foster & Flux illustrates exactly what is trying to be accomplished in the City of Sculpture.

The video is a refreshing change to the many promotional city videos that pop up nowadays. There is an honesty in this one that embraces Hamilton’s industrial past along with its people. The nearly three minute video, entitled We Are Hamilton, also includes a script that was produced by a local writer and carefully narrated in coordination with the imagery.