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6 things to watch for Cincinnati's future

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Posted at 6:00 AM, Nov 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-11-21 06:00:58-05

CINCINNATI — The region's leaders have a traffic nightmare on the Brent Spence Bridge to fix, want to encourage airlines to add more flights at the airport and are working on a multi-million dollar renovation of one of the nation's most popular museums.

If the area's biggest power players can pull it all off, it could translate into life-changing differences for the people living here.

Hamilton County Commissioner Chris Monzel, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber President Jill Meyer and Cincinnati Museum Center CEO Elizabeth Pierce gave a sneak peek of the work they're doing to make Greater Cincinnati a better place to live, work and play. The three regional leaders talked about some of their plans in coming months and years during the "Future of the 513 Panel" put on by the Hamilton County Republican Party this week.

Here are six things they said they're working on to make Cincinnati's future a better one. And, yes, one of those things includes cheaper flights at the airport.

1. The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

Jill Meyer, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

"The best way to help CVG grow is to fly out of CVG anytime you fly. The airlines aren’t stupid. They’re in this for the business too. They count how many bodies are taking certain flights. So, if you’re driving to Dayton or Indianapolis or Louisville because you’re saving $50 on a flight — stop. Fly out of CVG. The more we fly and support CVG, the more flights we’ll have for ourselves.”

Chris Monzel, Hamilton County Commissioner

“We had a (county) hearing yesterday, and one of our citizens came in and said we should build a new airport. We are not building a new airport. That’s the last thing we need to get into. Honestly, it’s an issue that’s not going to be easy to crack … I think (the airport board) is trying to make the moves, looking for some discount airlines.”

2. What stops businesses from coming here?

Jill Meyer, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

“Businesses want to come here. Our challenge right now is twofold: REDI (Regional Economic Development Initiative) can sell this region and bring in more business, if they have places to locate. They need a workforce of all kinds and all levels. I would say the challenge right now is growing our population of able-bodied workers.

3. How can the region promote female leadership?

Elizabeth Pierce, Cincinnati Museum Center

“Well, I think we’re starting to take over,” Pierce joked at the female-dominated panel. “There’s a lot of opportunity to continue to cultivate leadership at younger levels in different organizations. Any number of things where women can have access to leadership opportunities helps develop that skill set so, when the time is right and time comes, you’re available and you’re ready.”

Jill Meyer, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

“Ask the women to take it on and women say, ‘yes.’ People have gotten hung up in this life-work balance conversation that makes it sound like you don’t have a life if you actually have a career ... Women have to solve the problem ourselves. And, men, give the opportunity for women to say ‘yes.’”

4. The $3.2 billion overhaul of the county’s sewer system, which is driving water and sewer bill rate increases for everyone living in Hamilton County.

Chris Monzel, Hamilton County Commissioner

"Look at all of the things that are facing the county and the (Metropolitan Sewer District) is this unknown, 500-pound gorilla that’s in the room that nobody knows how it’s going to bear out in our community."

(The county owns the sewer system but the city operates it under a 50-year agreement that ends in 2018. Some commissioners have expressed willingness to terminate the city’s involvement in the sewer district).

“We’re trying to work with the city to figure out what’s the path forward. It’s such a massive problem that we’ve got to make sure we have the right operations in place to make sure we’re effectively controlling costs, so we cannot burn the rate payers or the businesses in our community so they want to stay here and bring jobs here.”

5. The future of the Brent Spence Bridge

Jill Meyer, Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber

“There’s a wide recognition that the Brent Spence Bridge is a disaster right now. What should be a 10-minute commute is sometimes an hour for people, which is ridiculous. Think about the time and resources being sucked up in that. Right here in our region, companies need that access. They need the free flow.”

6. Changes ahead for Cincinnati Museum Center

Voters approved a five-year sales tax levy last year that will help the Cincinnati Museum Center to complete a historic $212 million renovation of its Union Terminal location. The museum has called Union Terminal home for 25 years, and the remodel is expected to wrap up by 2019.

Elizabeth Pierce, Cincinnati Museum Center

"We’re really well loved, but it's now time to refresh a lot of those things that have been in that building for the last 25 years. We’re going to be able to fix the building, and that’s going to be a moment of pivot, where we can then prepare for the next range of content that we want to bring into the organization.”