Downtown Cincinnati Inc. to host All-Ohio BID Conference

Fresh off a successful experience with the MLB All Star Game, Cincinnati will host the All-Ohio Business Improvement District Conference for the first time Aug. 5-6.
In 2007, Lisa Defendiefer, deputy director of operations and advocacy for the SID Public Service Association in Columbus, and Mark Lammon from Cleveland’s Block by Block program got together to discuss common interests, best practices and other downtown-related issues in their cities. They also talked about hosting a meeting for representatives from other Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Special Improvement Districts (SIDs) throughout Ohio.
The pair put together an agenda and invited people from organizations across Ohio to share ideas and best practices.

“When this started,” Defendiefer says, “there was no other organized gathering that existed in the state that provided participants the opportunity to share ideas and brainstorm solutions for the kinds of issues that exist in downtowns across the state.”
What began as a one-day meeting has grown into a multi-day conference for representatives from BIDs and SIDs in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lancaster and Toldeo. The conference has been held twice in Cleveland and twice in Columbus, but now it’s Cincinnati’s turn to showcase its downtown efforts.

“It’s a great opportunity to meet your counterparts face to face,” says Mindy Rosen, senior vice president of communications and strategic initiatives for Downtown Cincinnati Inc. (DCI), the conference’s host organization. “I attended last year’s conference in Columbus and felt that Cincinnati should host it next because we have so much to show, now more than ever.”
In previous conferences, attendees have learned about what other cities do to engage the business community, how to grow a membership base and how to implement successful landscaping maintenance programs. The conference has also been helpful to share information on best practices related to security communications, homeless outreach and hospitality programs.
Cities across Ohio are interested in Cincinnati’s role in hosting the All Star Game, which was a huge success for the city.

Visitors and locals alike didn’t just stay and play around the All Star Game festivities. They visited local restaurants and shops and checked out the plethora of breweries in the area. They walked across the Purple People Bridge and participated in Covington’s bicentennial celebration. They spent thousands of dollars on hotels, flights and transportation.
Cleveland is particularly interested in how Cincinnati prepared for the All Star Game, as it’s playing host to the Republican National Convention next July. And many Ohio cities are interested in Findlay Market, the state’s longest continuously run public market. Both Cleveland and Columbus have similar versions, the West Side Public Market and North Market, respectively.
Findlay Market has become a catalyst for development, with a number of market stands eventually opening storefronts and restaurants on their own. The Crown Building has undergone a major renovation, and People’s Liberty set up shop in the nearby Globe Building. Model Group is currently working on a nearby major housing and commercial space project.  
Columbus just opened Scioto Mile, a riverfront park much like Smale Riverfront Park at The Banks. The swings, carousel and walking path along the river are replicable in cities across the state, whether the park lies on a body of water or not.
Like Cincinnati, all of Ohio’s cities have growing residential scenes, and the conference will include a tour of downtown’s Seven at Broadway project as well as the housing options available at The Banks.
“It’s always helpful to see what else is out there and what other options and avenues you can go about to accomplish the goals you have for your city,” Rosen says.
This year’s two-day gathering will include a tour of downtown Cincinnati’s Central Business District and Over-the-Rhine as well as a walk around Findlay Market. Attendees will also receive an introduction to Cincy Red Bike and the under-construction streetcar line and will take a walking tour of Smale Riverfront Park and The Banks. There are also plans to attend a Reds game.
Not only will the conference include tours of downtown and visitor highlights, but it will also feature a number of speakers: Jason Barron from Red Bike will discuss the bike share program; Carl Goertemoeller from Macy’s will represent the city’s larger corporations; and Jeff McClorey from Bromwell’s will talk about local entrepreneurs and restaurateurs.

Cincinnati has made a name for itself in the world of economic development as well as in the realms of dining and craft beer. But the city has so much more to offer, and that's just what DCI hopes to highlight during the conference.

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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