Michigan developers visit Hamilton to check out property around Spooky Nook site

On the same day Hamilton City Council heard another promising story about possible economic development along Hamilton’s Great Miami riverfront, they and city administrators said Hamilton must continue to focus strongly on uplifting its neighborhoods and providing a trained workforce for the possible new jobs.

Tom Vanderhorst, Hamilton’s executive director of external services, on Friday told council he and Economic Development Director Jody Gunderson “met with a developer that flew in from East Lansing, Mich., yesterday, and the only property that they were even interested in was one that was adjacent to the project,” he said, referring to the under-construction gigantic indoor sports complex and convention center called Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, along the river on North B Street.

Gunderson later said the developer, who approached the city, was looking “more on the river corridor itself ” that was “in and around the Spooky Nook area.”

Gunderson, who spent two hours with the developer, said such people, from within this region and outside alike regularly tell him, “the project’s going to be a game-changer for you guys.”

Meanwhile, during a morning-long strategic-planning retreat, council and administrators were asked, What are the actions the city should be taking to advance Hamilton?

There were a variety of responses:

  • Council Member Kathleen Klink said the city needs to "create and support meaningful, sustainable jobs through workforce development. And I realize every community in the world has the same question about under-employed, unemployed, not-specifically-trained residents, people who don't even want a job."
  • Council member Carla Fiehrer said the city needs to improve its neighborhoods and "engage the citizens better."
  • Council member Robert Brown said it's important to get people out and active within the community.
  • Council member Matt Von Stein said it's important to develop the workforce. He said the city had big employment opportunities with businesses StarTek and Barclaycard, but the area was not able to supply the two call centers with sufficient numbers of qualified workers, and the city is losing out on tax revenues it could be reaping. He also said the city needs to focus on developing its riverfront along the Great Miami River, because, "That is, I think, our greatest asset coming up."
  • Mayor Pat Moeller said Hamilton should continue improving neighborhoods, "because we're going to have people visit Hamilton a lot over the next few years, probably for the next few decades. But we want them also, I believe, to work here, with the good-paying jobs, but also to live here." Moeller said he believes there's a strong overlap between good jobs and quality neighborhoods.
  • Vice Mayor Michael Ryan said the city should work on partnerships with community organizations and other governments.
  • Council Member Tim Naab said the city should be to continue its financial and resource investments in the city's 17Strong efforts to build stronger neighborhoods, as well as in infrastructure, such as streets, aging sewer and water mains, and police- and fire equipment.

City administrators, when asked, also tended to lean heavily toward improving the vibrancy of neighborhoods, providing education that prepares people for available jobs, fostering riverfront development and making sure the quality of buildings in neighborhoods, especially rental properties, is good.

It’s also important, officials agreed, to be successful with the street-repair levy that will be on the city’s ballot in March.

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