How We Will Win Again with Manufacturing in Hamilton County

Originally posted by Laura Brunner, President & CEO, on LinkedIn

See the original post here.

I am always happy to explain to people what we do. These days, it’s easier, because we changed our “doing business as” name recently. We are an Ohio Port Authority. We are leading the region in making real estate work to benefit everyone in Hamilton County. We redevelop property in order to REVITALIZE and RESTORE our real estate assets. We build on the strength of what is already here in Greater Cincinnati.

Several years ago, we chose to expand our legacy work in development finance and brownfield remediation. We adopted a holistic approach and have committed to revitalizing urban industrial sites to attract advanced manufacturing; investing in neighborhoods to reduce blight, rehabbing vacant homes and adding new residential as well as revitalizing business districts; and expanding our development finance practice to include innovative funding sources for developers and municipalities.

Our redevelopment platform for transforming for prosperity.

This work is focused on the redevelopment and stewardship of real estate, which we consider to be a key driver of both economic outcomes and quality of life for citizens. The Port focuses on properties where the market has failed. Either as developer, financier, or in a public-private partnership, we work to catalyze private investment and restore properties to productive and highest-and-best use.

These three business lines are detailed on our website, Here, I will focus on Industrial Revitalization, and the incredible opportunities we are witnessing in the United States as advanced manufacturing operations are choosing vibrant cities to locate new operations.

Every week, regional economic development leader REDI Cincinnati receives requests from growing companies for available sites – nearly 70 of those requests this year alone. The majority of the site requests are for industrial sites with more than 20 acres of land. Can you guess the cities that are most likely to attract advanced manufacturing jobs? The ones with large, development-ready sites!

Our region remains a competitive choice for next-generation manufacturers because of our location in the U.S., the ease of shipping products in and out of the region, and the number of skilled workers already here. We are working to increase our inventory of development-ready sites to give companies an opportunity to locate here and grow!

Here’s what we’re doing about it: Right now, Jet Machine, a machining fabrication company, is building a 105,000 Square Foot light manufacturing facility in Roselawn on an 8-acre site. We purchased and prepared the site, assembled it, and cleared it of a run down and unproductive strip shopping center. When Jet Machine was looking for a new site location, they considered relocation outside of Cincinnati, but decided to stay when we sold the property to them. Keeping their 100 jobs here and giving them room to expand and add 40 new jobs was an important win.

Our 56-acre site development-ready site located in Amberley Village is now listed for sale. We have invested more than $12 million to acquire and prepare the site for new investment from an advanced manufacturing company. The site was the former HQ of Gibson Greeting Cards, which employed several thousand workers in its heyday.

Winning manufacturing: Manufacturing has a far-reaching impact on the prosperity of our region. During Hamilton County’s manufacturing peak in 1969, about half of everyone employed worked in manufacturing. From 1969 until 2015, the number of people employed in manufacturing decreased 67 percent, from 145,987 to 48,748.

These numbers are daunting, but we can win again in manufacturing. We have the muscle memory from our manufacturing legacy. This region’s workforce is skilled in exactly the kinds of areas needed by modern manufacturing. Cincinnati has a strategic advantage in the presence of industrial engineers, machinist and tool & die makers. There are also a healthy abundance of lower skilled production workers available.

My Spring Grove Avenue Bicycle Tour: I am an avid urban bicyclist. It was my idea to ride along Spring Grove Avenue as a way to illustrate our wonderful manufacturing legacy – and inspire people to think about how these sites can be productive again. Please take a look – the video is posted at the beginning of this post.

The Port: Our name, The Port, is meaningful and we are embracing it moving forward as a conduit between the public sector, neighborhoods and the private sector. To avoid confusion, the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky is a federally designated, maritime port. It’s among the busiest inland port districts in the United States, as measured by freight tonnage.

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