Decades of growth on the Interstate 75 Growth Corridor will and should be followed by more of the same, officials said.
The three honorees for the eighth annual Everest Award, an annual West Chester-Liberty Chamber Alliance event held Thursday evening, discussed the future of the area that has seen significant strides for the area.
“It’s not just in one place, it’s up and down the corridor,” said Larry Connor, founder and managing partner for Miami Twp.-based real estate investment firm The Connor Group.
“So whether its Austin (Landing) or down in Liberty, if you really look at where the epicenter of where growth is going to be in this region, it’s all up and down the corridor.”
Connor said he expects to see “long-term, sustainable growth for not only the short-term but the really, really long-term.”
Dave Gully, a retired Warren County administrator and former West Chester Twp. administrator, said most of the room for growth is located in a stretch of Butler County leading into Warren County.
“If you drive up north of Liberty (Way) interchange, between there and (Ohio) 63, it’s just a vacant piece of ground,” Gully said. “If Liberty Twp. can put the new (Millikin Road) interchange in, it’ll open that whole area for development.”
Denise Quinn, MillerCoors Trenton Brewery’s retired vice president and plant manager, said there remains “quite a bit of opportunity” relative to the I-75 Growth Corridor.
Quinn said she had lived in the area for eight years and then moved away for a little more than four years.
“The growth that I saw while I was gone … was extraordinary,” Quinn said. “I do drive the I-75 corridor for a lot of reasons and there are still tremendous patches of land opportunity that would allow for growth, whether it’s commercial or residential.”
So what is needed for continued positive growth it the region?
Quinn said those looking to lead growth efforts are going to have to listen to people along the way.
“You want to make sure you have the right balance, which is why I say there is opportunity for commercial, residential, educational and health kind of growth,” she said. “I think really listening to the people and ensuring that they’re looking at not only wants but true needs, of those communities surround that area will be very important, certainly in order to get support, but also to make sure that we’re building communities that people want to live, work and play in.”
Gully said it’s important for those leading growth efforts to not let people tell them “no.”
“Don’t let people say it can’t be done,” he said.
Those looking to help the region grow must “do it the right way,” Connor said.
“Growth just for growth’s sake isn’t the right way. It’s got to be smart growth. You’ve got to work together with the private sector and the public sector to figure out what kind of growth, when it should be and where it should be.”
Business leaders who do that, while working to get “the right people and the right plans,” will ultimately be successful, Connor said.
Continued growth is important for the average resident along the I-75 Growth Corridor, according to Gully, who said that when it comes to growth, “you don’t want to just fill up the spaces, you want to have it make sense.”
The investment of continued growth helps keep taxes down and bring services and amenities closer to where people live, “so they don’t have to drive 50 miles to go to work one-way every day.”
Quinn said she views continued growth from the perspective of change and it always being important.
“I think it would keep this area on the cutting edge of a number of areas,” she said. “Without that, I think we run the risk of falling back as a whole, not as individual smaller communities, but kind of the national attention and recognition we’re garnering I think could actually go away for us as a whole, not just individual communities.
It is important to constantly look at ways to change and better an area, Quinn said.
“Not change for the sake of change, but change in order to continue to better yourself because you want to be able to offer more and more so people and businesses want to stay here, they don’t want to go somewhere that’s more attractive to them,” she said.
Connor said the question of sustained growth vs. putting the brakes on growth boils down to one question: “Do you want to be a dying city or a dying region or do you want to be a vital, vibrant growing area?”
“I think most people would say ‘Hey, I want to be part of a community that’s growing and prospering.’ Why? Because that translates into better schools, better parks, better infrastructure, you name it.”
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