Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Big Changes To Spark Economic Growth

Today, myself and Todd Portune were excited to join the City in a collective effort that will have positive repercussions for years to come. We are greatly empowering our Port Authority so that it can truly quarterback exciting economic development and job creation efforts throughout Hamilton County--which is the best long run strategy to "grow" out of our current economic and budget doldrums.

Other city/county port authorities throughout the state have been able to forge far more economic and job growth because they have broader authority, and today’s changes take Cincinnati/Hamilton County’s port to the same high level. Under the changes, the Port will now be poised to do $50-100 Million of new development each year. This could include everything from brownfield development to taking back abandoned properties that are blighting our communities.

From my perspective, this is long overdue change that will jump-start economic progress.

There was a good deal of rhetoric from one commissioner (some misleading) as we passed this agreement about eminent domain. Fortunately, the facts differ from the rhetoric: today, we also unanimously passed the most restrictive, transparent eminent domain policy the County has ever had.

Before today, the Port was not required to inform or obtain approval from the Board of County Commissioners for most actions of eminent domain (although it did not proceed in that way, thankfully). Now, the new County policy requires, for any location in the County, a formal request by the Port, public notice, a public hearing, and an affirmative vote by the County Commissioners to approve or disapprove of any such request by the Port Authority. Absent an affirmative vote, a request is deemed denied and the Port can not move forward.

The new policy therefore assures real accountability and transparency, and that the approval ultimately rests with elected officials, as it should.

Overall, this is a big step forward, and once again represents positive City-County collaboration. Thanks to Commissioner Portune and members of City Council for their hard work in this arena.

Here's a story summarizing what we did:

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