Business News

The Location of Every Job in Cincinnati Mapped

Ohio Employment Dot Map

Two years ago, University of Virginia researcher Dustin Cable put together a detailed dot map based on the racial distribution of people in the United States. This work inspired another researcher to put together something similar, but for America’s job distribution.

Robert Manduca studies sociology and social policy at Harvard University. He says that while jobs and the economy are continuously discussed, we seem to know very little about where jobs are actually located. So what he did was examine the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics data and then plot that information out on an interactive map.

The LEHD data is based on state unemployment insurance records, and tabulates the count of jobs by census block,” Manduca explained on his website. “Here, jobs are colored by type, allowing us to see how different industries and sectors exhibit different spatial patterns–some clustering in downtowns, others spreading across city and suburbs alike.”

The way the visualization works is that red represents Manufacturing & Trade; blue for Professional Services; green for Healthcare, Education and Government; and yellow for Retail, Hospitality and Other Services.

Upon examination of the map, you can see that some cities and regions have a much stronger concentration of jobs than others. When looking at Ohio from a distance, it looks like this pattern holds true for the state’s three big cities. That picture changes as a more detailed look is taken at Manduca’s research.

In Cincinnati, for example, the two largest job centers, downtown and uptown, are joined by the Mill Creek Valley and Blue Ash as areas with heavy concentrations of jobs. As expected, there is a large cluster of education and health jobs uptown, while downtown boasts the region’s heaviest concentration of professional service jobs.

Blue Ash then comes in as, perhaps, the most impressive job center for professional service jobs in the region outside of the center city.

The Mill Creek Valley, which generally runs north along I-75 from the Ohio River, serves as the region’s primary manufacturing and trade corridor. This industrial corridor is well-rooted in Cincinnati’s history, and is even reflected in the City of Cincinnati’s robust tax collections from these zip codes.

The research reveals how much of a barrier the natural landscape serves as when considering job distribution. Throughout the Cincinnati region, for example, you can see how the hills cut across the landscape.

The data also shows that while Cincinnati is often defined by an east/west divide, the distribution of jobs is far more north/south oriented than it is east/west. Of course, the same is true for the region’s population.

Business News

Rapidly Growing Cincybite to Expand Delivery Area and Service Offerings

Just about a year ago, a new food delivery service entered the Cincinnati market. The idea behind it was one not uncommon in other larger urban centers around the country, but was new to the area.

While it can be simple to get sandwiches, pizza, or Chinese food delivered locally, that tends to be the limit of your options. But Robbie Sosna, who had lived Miami, New York City and Los Angeles after growing up in Blue Ash, knew the city could do better. So he launched Cincybite last December.

What Cincybite does is partner with area restaurants to deliver their regular menu items to hungry customers around the city. Sosna said they first started with just six restaurant partners and delivered only during dinner time in the center city. However, after a strong start, Cincybite quickly added lunch delivery options and added an additional seven restaurant partners within two weeks after their initial launch.

The early success of the business is yet another example of the retail services not keeping pace with the city’s population growth. While the age-old idea of ‘retail follows rooftops’ may still be true, technology is also now allowing some of that to be bypassed through innovative on-demand delivery services.

“In New York and LA there were restaurant delivery services, and I was surprised to find none existed in town,” Sosna explained. “The response has been phenomenal and I’m working hard to expand the service through the metro area.”

This is not his first foray into the food industry. In 2009, he purchased his first Freshii franchise in Los Angeles before ultimately moving those operations to Cincinnati and bringing the popular fresh food chain to the region in 2012.

Cincybite’s offices are located downtown and are currently staffed by six employees who are tracking all sorts of data and usage patterns. The data they are collecting, Sosna says, is what is helping them determine what other restaurants to approach, types of food to add, and which areas to expand to next.

One area that has not yet been officially added to Cincybite’s delivery area is the city’s west side neighborhoods, but they say it is only a matter of time, and drivers, before that happens. As for now, the focus remains on the region’s center city neighborhoods and many on the city’s east side and along the I-71 corridor.

“When looking at future areas of growth, my director of ops and I study our current sales data and customer feedback,” Sonsa explained. “We’re looking at strengthening our variety of restaurants in our current zones and planning our growth north.”

When asked where those next areas of operations might be, he said that they are looking at Kenwood, Madeira, Blue Ash, Montgomery and Indian Hill, but also clarified that Cincybite has unofficially also begun serving the west side.

Growing Cincybite’s delivery area and food options is just the beginning of the company’s overall growth plans. They have just launched a new service that offers delivery of basic grocery items and other incidentals like batteries, cleaning products, toiletries, over the counter medicine, baby food and supplies, and snacks. Likening the service to Amazon Fresh, Sosna says that he is working with a number of other businesses in order to add even more items.

“We’ve had conversations with local pet shops, butcher shops, dessert companies and a variety of other businesses looking to add additional revenue and awareness to their brand,” said Sosna. “There really is no limit for what Cincybite can offer Cincinnati, and we’re working hard to expand the delivery zones so everyone in the city can enjoy.”

Those who want to use the service merely need to register for an account and then shopping as would typically be done with any online retailer. The website also allows customers to select the date and time they would like to have their items delivered, and also allows for the user to pre-select an amount to tip the driver.

But one thing that was made clear was that none of this would be possible for Sosna without the resurgence taking place in Cincinnati. Had it not been for that, he said he may have stayed in Los Angeles instead of coming home.

“The commute back and forth for 2.5 years helped calm my nerves, but as I opened my Freshii location and began spending more time in the city, I realized a lot of progress had been made and the city was headed in the right direction,” Sosna told UrbanCincy.

“The approval of the streetcar, construction of The Banks, revival of OTR, food scene throughout the city, investment in tech with Brandery and Cintrifuse, and GE selecting Cincinnati for their future operations center were just a few of the reasons highlighting how great the city had improved and made the transition all the easier.”

Business News Politics

What Does Cincinnati’s Nativity Rating Mean for Its Long-Term Migration Prospects?

Cincinnati has a migration problem that is two-fold. First, it lags behind most major metropolitan regions in North America when it comes to attracting international migrants. Second, and perhaps more significantly, is that the region has a stagnant domestic population.

This is not because domestic migrants are any more or less important than international migrants. But rather, it is because stagnancy is a major problem for cities.

As many demographers and social scientists have pointed out, focusing public policy on retaining existing talent is a bad approach. In fact, large movements of people out of one region can be a very positive thing. That is, of course, if it is balanced out by a large influx of people into that same region. This is the case for North America’s largest cities, and is also evidenced at a larger scale in California.

But beyond that, older Midwestern cities with a large cluster of high-quality universities also seem to export more people than they import. That, in and of itself, is not the problem.

“This notion of the university as a “factory” gets very close to the truth,” Aaron Renn, owner of The Urbanophile, wrote in 2010. “A friend of mine noted that if we treated steel mills like universities, Indiana would be obsessing over “steel drain” and spending hundreds of millions of dollars on programs to try to keep steel from leaving the state.”

Renn went on to say that the notion of doing such a thing would be ludicrous, and that it is important to understand the details of what is really going on when it comes to a region’s migration patterns.

“Migration does matter. Any city that thinks it can be blasé about this is fooling themselves,” wrote Renn in a separate piece. “On the other hand, surface numbers only tell us so much. We need to understand the dynamics going on underneath the hood.”

By most comparative measure, Cincinnati actually does very well compared to many places at retaining its population. The problem is that it does very poorly at bringing in new people from outside the region.

Based on five-year estimates from the American Community Survey, this stagnation can be clearly seen.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the areas of the Cincinnati Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) which have the highest percentage of people living there that were born in another state are near state borders. Since the Cincinnati MSA stretches across three states, you can see that movement of Ohio residents to southeastern Indiana and northern Kentucky has boosted numbers in those locales.

On average, approximately 68% of the 2.2 million person Cincinnati region was born in the state where they currently reside. Meanwhile, Uptown and Cincinnati’s northeast suburbs appear to be the only parts of the region that are actually attracting newcomers to the region.

Another key finding here is the utter lack of movement of people into or out of Cincinnati’s western suburbs, which have a native born population between 80-100%. This number is roughly comparable to most rural areas in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

The Cincinnati region, however, is not alone when it comes to a stagnant population.

While Columbus was seen as a leader amongst big cities in terms of its domestic migration rate, it appears that Columbus is merely attracting new residents to its region from elsewhere in Ohio. Almost the entire Columbus MSA has a native born population between 60-80%.

The numbers are even worse for the Cleveland MSA, which, on average, has a percentage of native born population higher than the average for Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. This is in spite of the Cleveland MSA attracting more international migrants than any other in the three-state region.

Even though Cincinnati continues to post modest annual population growth, it continues to be on the outside looking in when it comes to North America’s most economically successful cities. If Cincinnati wants to just focus on attracting existing Americans to the region, then it should look to Houston, Dallas or Atlanta, which are all hubs for domestic migration.

This scenario, however, seems unlikely since each of those regions is positioned uniquely in terms of their economy or their geographic location. So, if Cincinnati is to really ramp up its population growth, it better look at what other metropolitan regions are doing to make themselves more attractive to international migrants.

Perhaps Mayor John Cranley’s new, yet-to-be-unveiled initiative can help with this. But does he or his administration actually know what is going on underneath the hood?

Development News Politics

Blue Ash poised to create legacy park at former airport site

On August 29, 2012 the Cincinnati-Blue Ash Airport (ISZ), better known as simply the Blue Ash Airport, was closed after 60 years of service.

After its official 8am closure, yellow X’s were painted across the runway and gates were installed to block any aircraft that might land from turning onto its taxiways. Throughout the day and into the early evening dozens of pilots and other friends of the airport drove their cars and motorcycles onto the taxiway and runway for one last look.

Over the past few weeks, the original hangar building became covered with farewell messages. While most were good-natured, several blamed The City of Cincinnati’s modern streetcar project for the airport’s demise. Additionally, people I spoke with at the airport Wednesday night, with anger in their voice, informed me that their airport was being closed because “Mayor Mallory wants to build a streetcar to nowhere.”

Smearing of the Blue Ash Airport sale
Pilots and other people associated with the Blue Ash Airport have been misled by Chris Finney, his anti-tax organization COAST, and sympathetic talk radio hosts into believing that Cincinnati’s sale of the airport to Blue Ash was motivated by Cincinnati’s streetcar project. Such claims do not recognize the fact that attempts to sell the airport date to the early 2000s, years before Mark Mallory became Cincinnati’s mayor or the streetcar plan first became an item on City Council’s agenda.

Specifically, sale of the Blue Ash Airport to the Blue Ash was not possible until the citizens of Blue Ash passed a .25% earnings tax increase in 2006. This funding source provided the City of Blue Ash sufficient funds to purchase and redevelop 130 acres of Cincinnati-owned airport land into a park. Blue Ash has already used funds from this tax to build a city recreation center and an event center at its municipally-owned golf course.

In early 2007 Cincinnati City Council authorized a streetcar study and proposed using $11 million of the airport’s $38.5 million sale price for construction of the streetcar’s first phase. Cincinnati never proposed using more than this $11 million sum – approximately 29% of the airport proceeds – for streetcar construction, yet Chris Finney has convinced streetcar opponents that the entirety of the proceeds have been programmed for the streetcar.

On August 7 of this year, after a week of talk radio hype, Finney brought his political circus to a Blue Ash City Council meeting and threatened the small city with a ballot referendum similar to those he had repeatedly placed before Cincinnati’s electorate over the past 20 years.

Finney has since backed away from his promise to cause trouble in Blue Ash — a move that was hardly covered by the local media — but much damage has been done. His smear tactics succeeded in villainizing Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory (D), the City of Cincinnati, and the streetcar project itself. And instead of work beginning on Blue Ash’s new airport park with a sense of optimism, it is instead clouded by suspicion.

The $13.5M Blue Ash Airport Park will transform the suburban city on Cincinnati’s north side. Rendering provided.

The New Airport Park
The planned Blue Ash Airport Park will be the first large new park in suburban Cincinnati since the Federal Government transferred the 435-acre Voice of America grounds to Butler County in the early 2000s. While the Voice of America Park has seen minimal physical improvements, and some of the land even sold off for a strip mall, Blue Ash boosters have announced that the new Airport Park will be “world class”.

Given the quality of the city’s new recreation center and event space, and the continuation of the .25% earnings tax voters approved in 2006, there is every reason to expect that it will be. Unlike Voice of America Park, which is nearly entirely devoid of trees, woods are present on some of the airport property including the triangular space between the taxiways and the runway. The $13.5 million park will include a multi-purpose pavilion, two new holes for the Blue Ash golf course, a driving range, and other features.

Remaining Cincinnati-owned Property
Cincinnati’s sale of the airport land it bought in the 1940s is not over, as the city still owns approximately 100 acres, including the airport’s newly abandoned 3,500-foot runway. In 2006, after selling the land occupied by the hangers and taxiways to Blue Ash for park purposes, Cincinnati planned to reconfigure the airport along the opposite side of the runway. This did not come to pass and presumably the City of Cincinnati will sell the property in the near future.

There has been no public mention of Cincinnati’s plans for this remaining land or if Blue Ash is able to afford its estimated $20 million sale price. But even if Blue Ash is unable to buy the property and expand its new park, the small city has demonstrated that it recognizes that the quality of its built environment improves and maintains residential and commercial property values.

Business Development News Politics

Blue Ash City Council spurns COAST during airport vote

The Blue Ash Municipal & Safety Center was the scene of high political drama Thursday night. After 90 minutes of public comment, with zero Blue Ash or Cincinnati residents speaking in favor of Blue Ash rescinding its 2006 agreement to purchase 130 acres of the Blue Ash Airport from the City of Cincinnati, by a 6-1 vote Blue Ash City Council did just that.

Ordinance 2012-41 authorizes Blue Ash’s city manager to rescind the 2006 transfer of title of the Blue Ash Airport from the City of Cincinnati. On August 29, that title will be briefly transferred back to the City of Cincinnati and Cincinnati will return approximately $6 million in payments it has received to date from Blue Ash. After appropriate paperwork is signed, Blue Ash will immediately return the $6 million to Cincinnati and title will be returned to the City of Blue Ash. After the airport operations cease on September 1, Blue Ash will gain full possession of the property and can commence construction of a long-planned park.

COAST leader Chris Finney takes notes as the City of Blue Ash voted against his personal wishes. Photograph by Jake Mecklenborg for UrbanCincy.

This unusual procedural step is necessary because after the cities of Blue Ash and Cincinnati signed their 2006 agreement, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) restricted Cincinnati’s use of the proceeds. Specifically, the FAA prohibited Cincinnati from using any of the $37.5 million for non-airport capital improvements. Since 2007, Cincinnati has planned to use $11 million of the Blue Ash Airport sale to fund construction of the Cincinnati Streetcar, with the remainder programmed for roadwork and other capital improvements.

At Thursday’s meeting, Blue Ash City Council scolded the local media for not having informed the public that it was the FAA who suggested that Blue Ash rescind the sale as a way for both parties to achieve their goals on schedule. The paperwork to be filed on August 29 allows for the avoidance of an estimated two years of litigation in federal court, meaning Blue Ash’s annual payments to the City of Cincinnati can continue uninterrupted. Cincinnati can use those capital funds however it sees fit, and Blue Ash can proceed with converting 130 acres of the Blue Ash Airport into a park.

The planned park was promised to Blue Ash voters who approved a .25% city earnings tax in 2006. Revenue from this tax has already paid for construction of a new city recreation center and the new Cooper Creek Event Center adjacent to the municipally owned Blue Ash Golf Course.
The facts of the situation as described above were entirely absent from the 90 minutes of emotional citizen comments that proceeded council’s action.  Speaker after speaker, led by Mary Kuhl of Westwood Concern and various members of COAST, incited the crowd into raucous clapping and heckling of Blue Ash City Council.

Chris Finney, COAST’s central figure, threatened Blue Ash with a ballot referendum that would rescind the rescinding of the 2006 sale of the airport to Cincinnati, creating a legal mess his law firm would no doubt attempt to be hired to untangle.

After public comments, five of the seven city council members explained their rationale for voting to approve Ordinance 2012-41. All voiced frustration with the local media’s inability to factually report the situation and called out Chris Finney and COAST for unethical behavior. Several Blue Ash council members reported that Finney had called them at home, and described his actions as an effort to extort Blue Ash. One council member went as far to sarcastically call Finney “The World’s Greatest Lawyer”, while another simply referred to him as a coward.

After city council presented the facts and context that Chris Finney had distorted or omitted in his week-long media blitz, there was no heckling to be heard as Ordinance 2012-41 was approved.

As council returned to its routine business after the nearly two-hour episode concocted by same man who has brought so much chaos to Cincinnati’s municipal affairs since the early 1990s, the crowd that had been calling for Blue Ash Council’s heads earlier in the evening quietly shuffled out of the building.

The misled public, however, had no opportunity to redirect their ire at Finney since he had left the building more than an hour earlier.