I’m going to go on a little rant this morning, and hopefully you’ll allow me to vent a little….
I gave a speech on Economic Development at Rotary yesterday and the contents of that speech ended up in today’s Journal News. I started by listing the current projects underway in the City:
Middletown Energy Center, $500 million; Middletown City Schools, $95 million; AK Steel Research and Innovation Center, $36 million; Cohen Electronics Recycling Center, $7 million; Nicholas Place Apartment complex, $20 million; Towne Mall Galleria, $6 million; Covenant Village, $14 million.
Almost $700 million in new investment in Middletown. The apartments will bring 216 higher income families to Middletown. AK is adding 15 new engineers over the next few years. Middletown Energy will bring 35 full time new high paying jobs when complete. Cohen is adding employees. Covenant Village will need medical staff sufficient to treat 93 beds of rehab patients 24/7. Towne Mall has or is in the process of developing over 75,000 sq ft of retail space and working on seven outlots, all with new jobs.
Downtown was empty a few years ago. You now have Cincinnati State, Pendleton Arts Center, Pendleton Café, Society Gift Shop, Blue Goose Deuce Restaurant, Combs BBQ, Uptown Country Boutique, Crabapple Books, Canal House, Triple Moon Coffee Company, Emage Signs, and the newly opened Mockingbird’s Café. The Butler Metroparks River Center is scheduled to begin construction in the spring of 2016. All of these new downtown businesses have employees on the payroll.
Despite the good things happening in town, most of the comments in the blogs and on the Journal web page talked about how we haven’t really made any progress, that the projects probably aren’t real, that we aren’t bringing jobs to the City and that we are way behind cities like Hamilton.
Really? $700 million and all of those new and expanding businesses is no progress?
I applaud Joshua Smith and respect the work he has done bringing Hamilton back to prosperity. He just celebrated his fifth year on the job, so he has a four year head start on me. With 5% unemployment, it is going to be a challenge for Hamilton to draw 2,000+ lower paying call center employees to Hamilton to fill those new jobs. Hopefully Middletown residents still looking for work can help fill those positions.
Folks, I have said this over and over and over. You can’t fix Middletown on Thursday. It takes incremental change and doing the right thing every single day to build us back up to sustainable levels. We are working hard to do the right thing every single day. We won’t always get it right, but never think we aren’t working hard to make your lives better.
At some point this community simply MUST stop talking about should have, could have, would have, used to be, and start looking forward from where we are now. There is nothing any of us can do to change the past. If we could have or should have, in some cases, we just didn’t. You can’t fix it or change that, so let’s move on. My energy has to be spent looking forward, not back.
Take a moment to appreciate the good things that are happening in your city. We have years of hard work ahead to rebuild the city. Celebrate the little daily victories. Over time they add up to become a sustainable, high quality city. Your city.