Economic Development, Part 3

Here is more on Economic Development efforts from my speech earlier this week. Our philosophy centers on being prepared to do the best business for the City every single day.  The City has multiple areas of interest that have not always gotten the attention that they needed.  We have the East End, the Mall, the Airport, downtown and many other industrial, retail and commercial areas. To be fully prepared, we needed to be properly staffed. In 2015, we added another Assistant Economic Development Director.  We then distributed duties in multiple areas amongst the three Economic Development Professionals.   I’ve tried to match the duties to each person’s strengths and areas of interest.

As part of the strategy, we are also including 100 retention visits per year with existing Middletown businesses to understand their successes, opportunities and challenges.  The Chamber of Commerce has been a key partner in helping us listen to and hopefully help existing Middletown businesses thrive.

Denise Hamet is our Economic Development Director.

Denise will focus on the broader, bigger picture.  She will:

  • Focus on the East End; Site development, Renaissance Project sites, Cin-Day Road development; Brownfield management; and Infrastructure improvements related to ED
  • Business retention visits with large employers
  • Attend regional groups including the Dayton Development Coalition, I-70/I-75 Association, Ohio Economic Development Assoc., Ohio Brownfield Assoc., Middletown Moving Forward, Duke Energy, Butler Metroparks, Jobs Ohio, ODOT, Miami Conservancy District, OKI

Site Development duties include:

  • Working with land owners east of I-75 to achieve site Certification up to 600 acres; certification includes infrastructure availability, topographical surveys, wetlands delineation & environmental site assessments
  • Assisting with the addition of fiber optic infrastructure to MADE industrial park
  • Assisting with infrastructure improvements to Yankee Road and Oxford State Road to improve accessibility for business
  • Attending trade conferences starting in 2016 as appropriate for new business recruitment
  • Recruiting developers for shovel ready sites

Matt Eisenbraun is an Assistant Economic Development Director.

His duties include:

  • Focus on Downtown, Redevelopment of existing business sites, Riverfront activities, Airport operations, Small Business development, and Aerospace Opportunities
  • Association memberships include the Ohio Historic Preservation Board, Heritage Ohio, Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Middletown Inc., Middletown-Butler-Warren Co. Convention and Visitors Bureau
  • Retention visits to existing small businesses
  • Downtown duties include:
    • Staff support to Downtown Middletown, Inc.(DMI) to create a Main Street program for downtown. The Main Street approach works to build sustainable and complete community revitalization efforts downtown
    • Work with Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) to promote Middletown events
    • Promote completion of the bike path to Franklin & creation of a bike path to downtown
    • Support SBA/SBDC (Small Business Development Center) work with smaller start up companies-federal programs/resources
    • Seek reutilization of empty downtown spaces
    • Support efforts to add market rate housing downtown
    • Work with staff to create a Designated Outdoor Refreshment Area (DORA) downtown
    • Airport duties include:
      • Completing Standard Operating Procedure documents for the airport
      • Managing capital and infrastructure improvements to open up additional aerospace and industrial development at the airport
      • Completing long term maintenance plan for the airport
      • Streamlining airport operations to maximize revenues and increase usage at airport
  • Alexis Fitzsimmons is our second Assistant Economic Development Director.

Her duties will focus on:

  • Workforce Development, city beautification, internal database management and Incentive Management.
  • Association memberships with Middletown Workforce Alliance, Community Building Institute, Keep Middletown Beautiful, Ohio Means Jobs, Southwest Ohio Workforce Investment Board, Warren and Butler County Port Authorities, MCSD, Butler Tech, Cincinnati State, Miami-Middletown, Warren County Career Center
  • Retention visits to existing mid-size businesses

Workforce Development duties:

The next critical need for new business recruitment is access to an available work force.

  • Engage existing business leaders to identify work force needs
  • Collaborate with local, County and State agencies to promote existing workforce development programs
  • Engage with higher education assets in the region to support local workforce development needs
  • Work with the Chamber of Commerce on workforce readiness programs at the K-12 level
  • Pursue ACT Work Ready Community Certification – certifies to incoming business that the community has met certain attractive work force goals
  • Encourage local companies to improve work force development through internships and co-op opportunities

Incentive Management duties include:

  • Maximize the benefit of existing incentives – TIRC(Tax Incentive Review Committee)
  • One page Incentive Breakeven Sheet
  • Work with City Council on levels of income tax and fee rebates that can be offered to potential new businesses
  • Work with Middletown and Franklin school districts to form agreements on property tax abatement availability

Communication Goals for the City and Specifically Economic Development:

  • Use of Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram- and other Social Media with ongoing updates
  • Prepare Water Bill Inserts – Quarterly
  • Ongoing Positive ED Press Releases to Media/ Postings to City Web Page
  • Expand Community Calendar to List Internal/External Events
  • City Manager Blog
  • Community PR Video
  • Improve Way-Finding signage throughout the City
  • Work with Convention & Visitors Bureau on Gateway Signage

We will seek to embrace new tools:

  • Engagement of the Butler and Warren County Port Authorities to offer new financing options
  • Utilization of the Butler County Land Bank to clear title and taxes to unproductive property
  • Completion of the MMF Reinvestment Fund
  • Utilize improved traffic flow to speed access to all parts of the City
  • Improved appearance at Interchange, Gateways and Medians to improve overall city appearance
  • Utilization of Public Transit as a job transportation tool and as a draw to millennials to improve access to city businesses, recreation opportunities and quality of life events

Zoning Code Rewrite.

Much of our Zoning code was passed over 50 years ago. Updating the Zoning Code is the last piece to the entire construction portion of our code.   This year we will modernize the Zoning Ordinances to reflect current Ohio law and the latest in zoning philosophy.

End Goal…

When someone asks why they should invest in Middletown, we should be prepared immediately to answer with:

  • A list of shovel-ready, certified sites that would meet their needs
  • A list showing a developed, trained, identified available work force for their proposed business
  • A list of competitive incentives available for bringing new jobs and investment to Middletown
  • A list of competitive, supported financing alternatives to complete construction of the new business
  • An active, vibrant demonstration of why this community is a great place to live, work and play for the new company’s employees.

We are not there yet, but we are developing the tools needed to address these questions.  New business will be looking at Middletown.  The only question is whether we will be ready to take advantage of opportunities to strengthen the community by adding quality businesses, jobs and employees to the City.  We are not there just yet… but we will be soon.


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