Economic Development

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.

9 thoughts on “Economic Development

  1. I concur with the City Manager’s message …… From the work I’ve done in the community over the last 25 years, the never ending criticism of almost anything positive going on in or about Middletown has come from my “Baby Boomer” generation (1946) who grew-up in here back in the “All American City” days. Granted, from what I know of the “good ol’ days” in Middletown it apparently was an pretty good place to raise a family. But that was then, not now. We can’t go “back to the future” and there’s no need for us too. Middletown is a still a great place to live, raise a family and start a business. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t. Someone recently said to me that Middletown seems to be a city that “loves to hate itself” and they were right. It’s come to the point where the ultimate challenge has become not only to sell the city to those who don’t live here but to close the sale with with those who do……..

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  2. Further advice to the City Manager ……….. Ignore the anonymous or not so anonymous bloggers. They are the same dozen or so folks who love to hear themselves talk and are literally living in the hall of the near dead……

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  3. Not sure I totally buy, “The apartments will bring 216 higher income families to Middletown.” And I understand that the children will not attend Middletown City Schools.

    Other than that, I think you are on target and it IS POSITIVE! The Journal News is fighting for it’s life and only has two or three real journalists covering Butler County. (IMHO)

    Make damn sure staff works promptly and as well as is prudently possible, with investors! Your results ultimately speak for themselves.

    In the mean time, you are paid well to endure the slings and arrows of the press and bashful citizens such as myself.

    Keep up the good work and drive those heroin creeps out of here!

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  4. I completely agree. It does take time for any thing to happen and for progress to be seen but in the end it was worth all the time. I know it’s easier to look at the negative, because every time we see it it basically hits us in the face but the more positive things take us longer to see for some reason. This is great I live in middle time and can’t wait to see all the things coming.

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  5. Mr. Adkins,

    Thanks for keeping us updated on this blog, it’s helpful for us commoners who are out of the loop.

    I know the TV Middletown Building has recently gone up for sale. Have you heard anyone give any interest in buying? If so who? What might it be used for?

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  6. City Manager Adkins,

    I applaud you! As a transplant to the city of Middletown, I believe I have a more objective view than many individuals who were born and raised here. There are so many great people and great things taking place in Middletown. It’s my experience that those who complain and say that nothing is changing or there’s nothing to do aren’t taking advantage of what is being offered! This past weekend there was a fabulous event in the Middletown Arts Festival. In a few weekends the Color Run and Monster Bash are being held. Over the past few years Downtown Middletown has hosted a Women’s Wine and Chocolate Walk. These are just a few events in addition to the country clubs, SAY Sports, live music at the Bash, etc. I’ve lived on the east coast, in Northern Kentucky, the west side of Cincy, Hyde Park and most recently Liberty Township for 8 years before moving to Middletown. Having lived in such a variety of places, I can tell you without a doubt, Middletown has much to offer. It is a great community, but, unfortunately has a very vocal “naysayer” population. What we need is for more positive people to speak up. We need those energetic, positive people to focus on the good, the development that you have pointed out, the investments being made in this great city and speak up! Housing is affordable, taxes are managable and the city is improving! For the naysayers who truly feel there is nothing good about our city, I would sincerely encourage them to seek out opportunities to get involved and educate themselves on what IS happening. If they absolutely don’t want to be a part of it and are as miserable as their posts, seek residency somewhere else. Life is far too short to be unhappy. However, I encourage them to proceed with caution as I can assure them, the grass is pretty green here in Middletown!

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  7. Well said Doug! Keep working hard. I’m not a native Middletownian, only having worked here since 2005 and lived here since 2008, but I see change and it’s positive change!

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