Hamilton garners top honors from international group

The city’s partnership with a redevelopment fund, the local small business incubator’s website and a local nonprofit leader who opened a new headquarters office downtown all recently received top honors from the International Economic Development Council.

Hamilton city government was a gold winner for its Initiative Update in the category of General Purpose Print Brochure for communities with a population between 25,000 to 200,000. The publication highlights major projects and provides information on cost and timeline, according to the city.

Another Gold Excellence winner was The Hamilton Mill for the business incubator’s new website in the Special Purpose Website category.

The website update was part of a string of changes made starting in 2013 to refocus and re-energize the former BizTech Center. Changes included a new mission to accelerate the growth of young companies with ideas for creating “highly commercializable products,” and in particular, companies in the advanced manufacturing, clean technology and software sectors. Additionally, the Hamilton center was renamed The Hamilton Mill.

The city also received silver and bronze awards, one of which was for its partnership with the Consortium for Ongoing Reinvestment Efforts (CORE) Fund, a private nonprofit that has raised millions to acquire blighted properties and make non-traditional loans to developers for projects in the area of High and Main streets. The city is one of the fund’s investors.

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Jeff Thurman, president and chief executive officer of nonprofit Community First Solutions, received the Citizen Leadership Award from the international economic development organization. The award is bestowed to a community or business leader who is not an economic development practitioner, but has played a key leadership role in influencing development, according to information provided by Hamilton.

The award recognizes Thurman’s and Community First’s investments in the city, such as construction of an approximately $12 million, 42,000-square-foot post-surgery rehabilitation center along Main Street; and the approximately $5.9 million renovation of the former Ringel’s Furniture building on Ludlow Street for the organization’s new headquarters.

The headquarters is now open downtown, and construction continues on the new medical center.

“We’re not going to stop,” Thurman told Journal-News.

Community First Solutions, which has grown to employ nearly 700 workers, is the parent holding company of these nonprofit organizations: Colonial, which provides senior retirement living, assisted living, home care, wellness centers, short-term stay rehabilitation and outpatient therapy services; Partners in Prime, which delivers Meals on Wheels and operates senior centers in Hamilton, Fairfield and West Chester Twp.; Community Behavioral Health Inc., which provides mental health, chemical dependency and case management services; and Community First Pharmacy.

“It is the only award that this council gives that’s not to their own peers,” Thurman said. “I don’t see what we do as hiring people, as purely giving services. I think what all of us do, it’s really about the quality of life we want to have an impact on.”

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