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Hamilton County's top economic development official makes surprise exit

Peg Moertl lands big job in Columbus
Posted at 7:46 AM, Dec 13, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-13 07:46:37-05

CINCINNATI — Hamilton County's top economic development job is available again, nine months after Peg Moertl replaced 35-year veteran David Main as president and CEO of HCDC Inc.

Moertl will relocate to Columbus by April to become president of the Ohio Capital Corporation for Housing, a large nonprofit that helps low-income housing projects secure financing. Moertl said it's a dream job she couldn't pass up, even though she doesn't want to leave the Norwood nonprofit that has financed over $1 billion in business expansion projects since its 1983 inception.

"It's a great group of people and there's a lot of upside potential," Moertl said. "I've talked to the board about staying engaged either formally or informally. I'll be a lifelong advocate."

Moertl briefed HCDC board members before OCCH announced to its staff this week that Moertl would replace Hal Keller in April. Keller worked for OCCH since its inception and served as its president since 1993. He previously announced that he planned to retire sometime in 2019. Moertl said she was approached by OCCH a few months ago and negotiated a three-month transition period to make sure HCDC can find a new leader.

"There was a collective disappointment," said Paul Brehm, an HCDC board member. "We had great expectations for what Peg could bring to the position."

Brehm, the city of Forest Park's economic development director, said Moertl re-energized HCDC and was seen as a leader that could take the organization to new heights.

"The optimism is still there," he said. "This is not a situation where the wheel is broken. There's a great opportunity for the right person to step in."

Created in 1983, HCDC is Hamilton County's official economic development office, operating a business incubator that's 90 percent full and a small business lending program that set an all-time record this year with 41 loans approved for a combined $33.1 million. OCCH is a syndicator of low-income housing tax credits, which are sold to private investors to raise money for affordable housing projects. Established in 1993, it has arranged $4 billion in private capital for 800 projects that created 45,000 apartments in Ohio , Kentucky and Pennsylvania.

Moertl came to HCDC from PNC Bank, where she was a senior vice president in charge of community development banking for nearly 15 years. Prior to that she was director of development for the city of Cincinnati.