City manager: Hamilton will go into 2022 with great momentum

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Editor’s note: This is an Ideas & Voices column written by Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith.

Coming out of a crazy 2020, the City of Hamilton entered 2021 with a sense of uncertainty on pending developments. Now, as 2021 closes, we can highlight several positive announcements and accomplishments that further enhance our community’s upward trajectory.

Spooky Nook will open in 2022. This $150 million, mixed-use development (sports complex, convention center, hotel, restaurants, rock-climbing, personal fitness) could not have started construction during a worse time — global pandemic, supply chain issues, employee shortages and construction inflation. Through grit and determination, they stayed the course and will enter 2022 with great momentum.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The City has seen a resurgence of local manufacturing, highlighted by Saica and 80 Acres spending collectively more than $100 million on their new, state-of-the-art buildings at Hamilton Enterprise Park. Vinylmax and Bilstein announced expansions in the past few months that will add hundreds of jobs and over $50 million in additional capital investment.

Several prospective downtown hotels entering into Letter of Intents. New restaurants, either announced (Agave & Rye) or opened (Billy Yanks) have brought great excitement to the local dining scene. Large-scale residential projects (former Ohio Casualty with 86 units, former Beckett Paper with 236 units, and Rossville Flats with 80 units) will help companies like Kirsch CPA, iMFLUX, Bilstein, and ODW Logistics attract talent by providing unique, urban living options.

While much of the focus has been on exciting new private investment, the impact of the Hamilton Parks Conservancy (HPC) and 17 Strong cannot be overstated. Both entities were created in the past seven years and had increased importance during the pandemic. They have exponentially improved our community’s quality of life.

In addition to managing more than 1,000 acres of parks, the HPC recently took over maintenance of both 18-hole golf courses in Hamilton. Their impressive investment across the parks spectrum provided our residents and guests top recreation opportunities. HPC is losing its first Executive Director Steve Timmer in 2022, and his shoes will be difficult to fill.

17 Strong was originally created to have better conversations regarding the needs of our 17 unique neighborhoods. Since its inception, former City Councilmember Kathy Klink and a host of volunteers have boosted the stature of 17 Strong. Neighborhood cleanups, movies in the park, monthly meetings and micro-grants for desired improvements have made 17 Strong a central organization to help our neighborhoods continual improvement process.

That said, resolutions for 2022 include: 1) continue our strong focus on neighborhood improvement, 2) further our small business outreach, so we can better assist as they continue to grow, 3) concentrate more effort on street improvements and improving traffic flow, and 4) successfully assist the hundreds of millions of private investment in our development pipeline to a successful completion.

Joshua Smith has been City Manager for Hamilton, Ohio since 2010.

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