Laura Brunner kicks off ArtsWave Creative Placemaking panel

Laura Brunner kicks off ArtsWave Creative Placemaking panel

Ms. Brunner’s remarks highlight benefits of collaborative revitalization

I would like frame Cincinnati’s remarkable transformation within the context of the arts. There are large projects under way that will change our city forever.  We have regional challenges that we must together face and solve that are not small. Both call for continued collaborative leadership.

Every city has buildings, places and people. Some cities have vision. But what we have here is rare — Cincinnati has an inclusive, innovative, and pioneering spirit. This is our foundation of creative place-making. Here is my economic development perspective on our creative opportunities:

  • Neighborhoods: Neighborhoods are the big story for 2016. We love our neighborhoods for their character, cool places and distinctiveness, and now regional developers love them too. The secret is out. There are dozens of revitalization projects happening in neighborhoods like Madisonville, Northside, College Hill, Avondale, Bond Hill and Evanston. Some of these neighborhoods haven’t seen investment in decades. We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make sure there are conversations with multiple and diverse neighborhood stakeholders to guide these redevelopment plans. These many voices are essential for inclusive and creative projects.
  • Anchor institutions: Think about Children’s Hospital, UC, Xavier, and Walnut Hills High School – these are examples of pillar institutions that made a choice to not just work within the confines of their own campuses, but to focus externally on their environments, making big impact investments and relationships. What if UC decides to put its law school at the Banks? That geographic expansion would spread UC’s energy and ideas into a new environment within the city.
  • Economic development partnership: The Port Authority works every day with REDI Cincinnati, the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, LISC and the neighborhood CDCs, as well as business leadership and government entities. Collaboration is what works– working in silos is unproductive, and wasteful.
  • CDFIs – As community development financial institutions, the Cincinnati Development Fund and Covington’s Catalytic Fund are important project funding partners and friends of the arts and art-anchored development projects. CDF has assisted the Incline Theater, Kennedy Heights Arts Center, Woodward Theater and Washington Park, and deployed community enhancement grants to support creative place-making. The Catalytic Fund is financing a historic renovation of the Boone Block Lofts that includes a “green art wall.”  CDFIs are essential to fostering an ecosystem that supports socially and culturally beneficial projects.
  • Land control – Blighted, vacant properties destroy hope. We have a powerful public agency – the Hamilton County Land Bank — that acquires dangerous properties. In 3.5 years, our Landbank has helped neighborhoods gain control of their own redevelopment destiny. We are getting title and transferring properties back into neighborhood control for reinvestment and re-creation.  We have demo-ed the worst properties and are now acquiring and rehabbing vacant homes.
  • Shared goals: We cannot be a great city if children live in poverty or people cannot easily find transportation to a job. There is a recognition and sense of urgency around greatly improving these conditions— again— through collaborative action.
  • Art-based development: I will remind you of last year’s stunning referendum to revitalize Union Terminal and victorious campaigns to improve Music Hall and Memorial Hall. We have arts institutions that are the centerpiece—not sidelines— of development projects. Price Hill’s Incline Theater and the Cincinnati Shakespeare Theater are catalytic projects on their own.
  • Manufacturing renaissance: Cincinnati was built on invention. We have lost legacy factories, but we have not lost that spirit of innovation or knowledge that created companies like Milacron or Procter & Gamble. Manufacturing in Cincinnati peaked in 1969 when 146,000 people were employed in manufacturing positions. Today, service jobs represent a larger percentage of our workforce. Our region has not lost the desire to make things. A manufacturing renaissance can employ tens of thousands in next-generation facilities. Our vacant industrial land is the building block for that future. The Port Authority is committed to redevelop this land to help spur a new manufacturing renaissance.  These properties, and the communities in which they sit, will need your creative energy to redevelop them into the best version of themselves.
  • Local economy: Our city’s makers, designers and innovators are often small businesses.  We have champions of neighborhood entrepreneurs who are rebuilding our neighborhoods by growing the knowledge, networks and capital of microentrepreneurs. The Port Authority is working on rebuilding neighborhood business districts, and I know that within just a few years, many of our tenants will be local entrepreneurs.  These entrepreneurs are drawn to communities largely because of the creative energy they possess that all of you bring to them.