December 06, 2011
Partnership sets new course for growth
In the early 1980s, the Cincinnati region was experiencing a serious downturn. It lost 34,000 jobs from 1979 to 1983. And an organization then known as the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce decided a proactive business attraction and expansion program was needed.
With 500 investors pledging $4.9 million, the Blue Chip Campaign for Economic Development was born. Still today, it is considered to be one of nation’s pioneer regional economic development groups.
What is now known as the Cincinnati USA Partnership continues to be a leader in regional economic development. In fact, every $1 invested in the Cincinnati USA Partnership traditionally results in $70 of new capital investment in the region.
But the factors driving economic growth have changed. And strategies that were effective in past decades are no longer reaping the same rewards. So the Partnership has set a new path to continued economic growth.
“This strategic plan builds on our legacy while better leveraging our strengths and assets to accelerate the regional rate of job creation and business investment,” said Dave Dougherty, interim executive director of the Cincinnati USA Partnership.
At the core of the Partnership’s new strategy is a sharper focus on business growth efforts in the region’s industry clusters – areas of industry strength. The Cincinnati region has several strong industry clusters, including consumer marketing, biotechnology and advanced manufacturing. Key economic development efforts will be tied to strengthening and growing these critical industries in the region.
Also included in the plan is a “grow our own” strategy intended to help local companies expand and drive job growth. A region’s most significant job growth will always come from existing firms – both through expansions and the creation of new firms in the clusters.
In 2010, of the $2.4 billion in total investment in the region, 74 percent came from existing businesses. And 77 percent of jobs created came from the growth or expansion of existing businesses. The Partnership will significantly enhance its efforts, building on the existing GrowthForce platform, to cultivate and accelerate the growth of regional businesses.
To accomplish these strategies, the Partnership is increasing its scale. The Partnership hired Denyse Ferguson, former CEO of the Lansing Area Economic Partnership, to manage the industry-cluster activity and specifically lead the Consumer Marketing Center, and plans to hire two additional economic-development professionals.
Additionally, the Cincinnati USA Partnership has been designated to be the region’s JobsOhio Network Partner. In this role, the Partnership will be the access point to state financial incentives in Brown, Butler, Clermont, Hamilton and Warren counties. The designation comes with a $2.6 million grant.
“The JobsOhio grant helps ensure that we will be a strong strategic partner for the JobsOhio effort and a strong advocate for our region. It also expedites the implementation of the Cincinnati USA Partnership’s new strategic plan to accelerate the growth of jobs and business investment,” said Dougherty.
The Partnership’s new strategy is designed to achieve the region’s goal of 200,000 net new jobs by 2020 and to secure a top-quartile ranking in the Agenda 360-Vision 2015 Regional Indicators Report by 2015. The Regional Indicators Report is an economic scorecard comparing the region to 11 other markets. In it, the region ranked 10th on the list of 12 regions– only ahead of Cleveland and Louisville.
And efforts are ramping up to increase the number of jobs in the region. Because our economic success depends, in fact, upon the availability of a qualified workforce. To help employers train and source employees, four area workforce leaders – Southwest Ohio Region Workforce Board, Workforce One Investment Board of Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky Workforce Investment Board and the Indiana Region 9 Workforce Board – have joined forces to launch the Employers First Regional Workforce Network. This is a streamlined approach delivering workforce solutions directly in response to employer needs. For more information, visit employersfirst.org.
This plan delivers a solid infrastructure to support the high growth potential of the Cincinnati USA region. We believe it is the right plan at the right time to capture our region’s rightful place as one of America’s favorite business centers,” said Julie Janson, chair of the Cincinnati USA Partnership and president of Duke Energy Ohio and Kentucky.
For more about the Partnership, visit CincinnatiUSA.org.