Thursday, September 18, 2008

Downtown Living -- The Momentum Keeps Building

Today, Mayor Mallory and I helped open a new residential building downtown--The Lofts at Fountain Square. With 18 new loft and condo units in the heart of downtown (many are already sold, even in this tough market), it's just another sign that our long-term goal of creating a 24/7, living, breathing downtown is succeeding.

For those newer to Cincinnati, it may be hard to imagine how far we have come in just six years. When I got to Council in 2001, there was little activity downtown except typical, 9 to 5 business. The place cleared out as work ended.

Specifically, Fountain Square was the geographic center of downtown, but with little activity and little excitement surrounding it. It was better known as a source of political controversy than it was a destination. Maybe a place to bring a brown-bag lunch on a nice day, but that was about it. There was no long-term plan to revitalize either Fountain Square, or downtown.

How all that has changed! Fountain Square is packed night after night, with a variety of activity. (Tonight, for example, the Bacchanalian Society will bring more than 1,000 people down there for its regular wine-tasting event). New restaurants and bars occupy the surrounding blocks. Now we have new residential units opening up and selling right nearby. And if something really big is happening, people rush to Fountain Square to watch it on the big screen, as a community.

This was the theory behind the Fountain Square revitalization project those of us at City Hall initiated with 3CDC five or so years ago, and lo and behold, it's working. A cycle of new development, new entertainment, and new living space, each feeding off the other in an upward spiral.

Big picture, we're creating the kind of exciting downtown atmosphere that, for too long, has been pulling our best and brightest to other cities. Today, it's Fountain Square, but long-term, it's the whole basin, from the riverfront (and Banks) to Over the Rhine and Clifton.

(To look at the new lofts, go to

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Number 1 Tip of the Day: If In Doubt, Throw It Out

As power slowly comes back on for households across our region, the issue that could have the greatest impact is the unsafe condition of perishable food.

The best advice: "if in doubt, throw it out." Given that it's now Wednesday, and that even food in a full freezer should generally be discarded after 48 hours without power, all perishable food is at this point well past being safely edible. Discard it.

For more information, read our Health Department's release here:

And the Enquirer has a good story on this as well:

Keeping Jobs, and Creating New Jobs: Economic Growth, One Step At A Time

Often, the big news gets the headlines, including with economic growth. A big company comes, a big company goes, and it's all over the front page. And no doubt, those are important events.

But as a region and a county, as much as the large players, the direction of our economy is set by the collective decisions of hundreds of smaller businesses every day. Whether to expand or invest. Whether to add jobs. And where to make these investments and expansions (here, or elsewhere). As important as they are, most of these decisions are never reported.

Except here . . .

Today, we approved an agreement that will lead to a major expansion of an important food distribution company in Lockland. Due to a recent buyout, the Lockland facility of Reinhart FoodService could have easily gone elsewhere, taking 139 full-time permanent jobs with it.

Instead, the County's development arm, along with Lockland, worked diligently to keep them here. With today's agreement, Reinhart will now invest almost $6.5M to expand their current facility. Not only will they retain 139 jobs, they will create 30 new jobs over the next three years. Their total workforce will have an annual payroll of $8,273,652.

In sum, retaining this company, and being the location of their significant expansion and future job growth, is great news for Lockland, and great news for Hamilton County.

Thanks to all those who worked hard to make this happen.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Hamilton County Briefing

Here's the latest briefing from Hamilton County on response to the windstorm damage:

An Update from Duke Energy

For those still dealing with power problems (and are still able to access online information), here's a communication from Duke Energy late yesterday:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I hope you will be able to see this message, but fear that some will not. I will do my best to get updates to you as they become available, and so if any recipients are aware of one or more members of either Council or the Commission whom you believe will not have been in a position to view this note, please respond and I’ll try to make contact another way.

We are dealing with an unprecedented situation in the Midwest. Today – Monday, September 15, 2008 – is a day of assessment from the Company’s perspective, and continues to be as of this writing. We know that there is service at the hospitals and other critical health care facilities in the area – these are always our top priority. There has been much interaction with the Emergency Management personnel in all of our Southwest Ohio and Northern Kentucky service areas; there has also been communication with the two Governors’ offices to clear the way for vehicles coming to, or returning to, the service area to assist with restoration.

At the peak of damage last evening, we had approximately 700,000 customers out of service in Ohio and Kentucky combined. As of this morning, we were down to 590,000 known outages, about 90,000 of which were in Kentucky. We will continue working around the clock to restore service, and all available crews are being summoned to assist with restoration. Some of these will be coming from the Carolinas, and still others will be those who had been dispatched to go the gulf for help with the impacts of Hurricane Ike – the latter are now being recalled. By the time everyone gets here tomorrow, we should have a much more thorough understanding of the extent of the damage. Meanwhile, the people on the ground here at the time of the initial storm strike are already working to restore service and have made some headway today.

We urge customers to contact us if they believe they are experiencing an outage, at 513-651-4182 or at 1-800-543-5599. We further urge that you inform any constituents who may contact you that a downed power line is a potentially deadly hazard, and that they should not go near it. Food left in a closed refrigerator is good for up to 8 hours, and that in a freezer good for 24; still, the old saw is true: if in doubt, throw it out.

More information will follow as I get it.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Information Regarding High Wind Storm

There's a lot of work taking place right now to restore power and full service/access Countywide.

Here's some basic information as you negotiate through the next couple days:

Energy/power: Duke Energy is working hard to restore power, and has made a good deal of progress overnight and this morning. Work crews are coming here from multiple states to help. Still, more than 500,000 people were without power as of mid-morning.

To report electric problems: 651-4182

To report gas problems: 651-4466

Web Site (includes information on their work to bring power back throughout the County):

Food: be very careful regarding any food that has been kept in your refrigerator or freezer:

- Any frozen food in a full freezer should be discarded after 48 hours
- If the freezer is only half-full, discard food after 24 hours.
- Our Health Commissioner made clear today that you should NOT taste food to determine if it’s still safe to eat
- If your refrigerator has been above 40 degrees for more than two hours, the food within should be discarded.

For questions, call the Health District’s Food Safety Hotline: 513-946-7949

Closed Roads:

For a full list of closed roads, go to

If you have any emergency-related questions, you can call our Emergency Operations Center at 263-8200. Or you can call my office directly, at 946-4409.
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