Thursday, March 18, 2004

Lost people, lost jobs spur business study

By Cindi Andrews
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Hamilton County commissioners hired a national association Wednesday to look at how the county can attract new businesses.

"We're losing the race, and we need to catch up," Commissioner Phil Heimlich said. "People are leaving this county and going to Warren County, Clermont County and Northern Kentucky, and jobs are leaving with them."

Commissioners voted 3-0 to pay the Washington-based International Economic Development Council $30,000 to study current efforts and suggest improvements by mid-year. The nonprofit group's past clients include Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; and Washington.

Hamilton County lost 9 percent of its population between the 1990 and 2000 U.S. Census counts, and now has fewer than 850,000 people. The county's share of the region's jobs has fallen from 68 percent to 58 percent since 1987, according to the Hamilton County Regional Planning Commission.

The county has set aside $2 million this year for economic development. Heimlich expects the International Economic Development Council to recommend how to spend it.

"We want to make sure whatever we invest in will give us our best possible return," Heimlich said.

The Hamilton County Development Co., a private nonprofit based in Norwood, gets about $590,000 a year to act as the county's economic development department. It puts together incentive packages to retain and attract companies as well as administering small-business loans and operating a new-business incubator.

President David Main said he looks forward to getting feedback from the study.


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