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Business Development News Opinion Politics

City Council almost ran the table…almost

Now lately I would have considered city council to be on somewhat of a roll, and by that I mean vote the way I approve. But in all seriousness, they have done quite a bit of good work lately. Here is a list of a few of their accomplishments:

  • Approved a potential property tax rollback (albeit minor).
  • Voted to create a ‘vending district’ along Short Vine.
  • Looked at ways to cut costs around city hall that could potentially save the city another $18 million.
  • Rezoned a piece of land in Sedamsville that could end up paying off in the long run for city coffers.
  • Reinstated the city’s Clean, Safe Fund.

 

However there was a misstep along the way when they voted 5-4 to not approve a 25 cent bus fare hike for Metro. This is a crucial piece to the Metro puzzle; most of their buses will be needing replacement very soon, and this type of delay can critically set them back for years to come. While I agree with council that there are probably better ways for Metro to cope with financial hardships (i.e. make all the other communities pay into the system who use it), but that will take some time and this money is needed right now!

This is similar to the types of problems that Amtrak has faced over the years. They are constantly unsure of what their financial status will be on a year to year basis and can therefore not financially plan for anything farther out than their current fiscal year. I yearn for the day when Cincinnati has a real regional transportation authority that overlooks these systems, and sets up appropriate funding mechanisms for them.

Why is it that there is Metro, TANK, Bearcat Transportation Shuttle, and all of these other fragmented transportation services. Clean it up, remove the unnecessary overhead and move towards a real regional authority that we all really want and need.

External Links:
www.go-metro.com
www.tankbus.com

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News

Is Cincinnati ready to take that next step?

If you have a pulse you can notice the major changes occurring in/around Downtown Cincinnati. There are new restaurants, clubs, retailers, residents and overall just more activity at all times of the day. Now I’m not sure if city government should receive all of the credit for this, but it certainly deserves some. While all of this has been well and good; Downtown Cincinnati is still not where it could be…or where it used to be. Who is going to step up and take downtown and its surrounding areas to the next level?

I challenge city government to take this one by the horns and put downtown over the top. Downtown needs more everyday retailers, affordable shops, more affordable housing, and improved cleanliness/image. These are the items, the City of Cincinnati, should be focusing on in order to make downtown a truly great place to live, work, and play. Here are my suggestions:

1. Sell downtown to potential retailers that have been hesitant, in the past, to invest in downtown while making sure these retailers represent the people that you are trying to serve (urban dwellers…NOT SUBURBANITES).

2. Encourage middle-class housing development, by incentivising those developments that serve that segment of society. Push for better transit options (like the streetcar proposal) to help reduce overhead costs for new housing developments.

3. Finally, don’t be afraid to be positive…tell everyone/anyone about the great things happening downtown, and that they too can be a part of the change! Let everyone know that it’s not just a select group of people making a lot of noise, but rather a collective mass taking hold.

I hope our leadership can help the inner-city thrive once again; leaders like Jim Tarbell are a rare breed, and we must demand accountability from our other city leaders to make the city GREAT once again…we’re certainly on our way.

Categories
Development News Politics

Put your money where your mouth is!

So the question is whether $800,000 is better spent on the Freedom Center or on speed humps for residential streets throughout the city. Speed humps serve a small amount of citizens who just like to complain. These are the same people who ask for public stairs to be closed, bus routes to be removed, bike trails to be prohibited and the likes. They have specific issues with many things that are geared towards the greater public, and it seems like Chris Monzel would rather appeal to those citizens than to put money towards a Smithsonian Museum right in our downtown.

Now maybe I am confused or misinformed, but to me an investment in a Smithsonian caliber museum would seem to be a better investment than speed humps. It would also seem to be an investment that would benefit the community as a whole; not just the complaint oriented citizens. Even if you don’t go to the Freedom Center (which I highly recommend a visit to), the community benefits by schoolchildren being able to go to the museum and learn a very important history of our nation.

If education and the youth are truly our future, then lets put our money where our mouths are and fund things that benefit our future. A child will not remember or learn anything from a speed hump that may or may not be on their neighborhood street…but they will remember the lifelong lessons that are taught at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

Categories
Business News Politics

A billboard battle looms…

A number of City Council members seem poised to take on the billboard industry in Cincinnati. Councilman Chris Bortz thinks billboards, along with those advertising benches at bus stops and racks that hold newspapers, cut into Cincinnati’s overall curb appeal. I would strongly agree with that notion. The problem doesn’t lie with the stance, but rather the billboard powers at be. Taking on this industry has proven to be a very difficult task to say the least.

For some communities its the superfluous newspaper stands and bus benches that restrict pedestrian flow/activity in their business districts. For others its the brightly illuminated billboards that prove to be undesirable for residents living nearby. Not to mention these billboards are almost always an eyesore for everyone who has to see them on a regular basis.

Maybe what the city should do is look into creating a streetscaping plan that requires all streetscaping items to have a specific look/appeal to them (much like what is done for lighting and signage). This has been done recently in places like NYC and Toronto, where they are striving to improve the curb appeal of their cities by creating coordinated street-furniture plans.

An important piece to this effort, in my opinion, is that the city include the neighborhood business districts that make the city special and not just put it into action downtown. Downtown is great, but these neighborhood centers are the foundation of our great city. I’m sure they will lend much support to this effort!

Categories
Business News Politics

Cincinnati’s Summer Jobs Plan

Mayor Mark Mallory put the finishing touches on the City’s Summer Jobs Plan. This is a summer jobs program for inner-city youths in Cincinnati. The nuts and bolts of the program are as such…The total cost of the program is $1.5 million, with major contributions coming from organizations like ‘Blueprint for Success’. The program will aim to employ around 220 inner-city youths.

These types of programs are priceless and do GREAT things for inner-city youths and the city as a whole. It gives kids things to do, and teaches them all kinds of lessons. From painting murals, to maintaining parks and working in business environments. These are lifelong lessons that these youths will be able to take with them as they mature; lessons that these individuals might not have otherwise been exposed to. I couldn’t think of a better use of $1.5 million. I applaud the City of Cincinnati for its continued support of its inner-city youths. Now if only the leaders of Cedar Fair (owners of Kings Island) had this kind of leadership and vision.