Hamilton seeks $5M from the state for a project it calls a ‘critical component’ of the city’s development

The city of Hamilton is asking the state to allocate $5 million toward the $33 million Champion Mill Conference and Events Center.

Hamilton is pursuing the project in collaboration with the Butler County Port Authority and the Butler County Visitor's Bureau, and it would "transform" part of the old Hamilton Champion Paper Mill complex into a state of the art facility, said Ohio Rep. Wes Retherford.

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‘This project will result in two times more dining and banquet space than currently exists in Butler County, creating an environment that will allow for the attraction of events that cannot currently be accommodated within Butler County,” he said.

Millions of tax dollars will be invested in Ohio projects, and Butler County local governments and organizations have collectively requested nearly $41.1 million in the state’s capital budget, which is projected to be around $2 billion. Two years ago, the budget was $2.6 billion.

The $33 million project makes up only a fraction of the $150 million that will be invested into the Champion Mill Redevelopment Project in the heart of downtown Hamilton. A 750,000-square-foot sports, entertainment and event complex, known as Spooky Nook, will be on the west shore of the Great Miami River.

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“The project is a critical component in the city’s economic development initiatives and the centerpiece of the plan to restore a blighted brownfield property, and drive business and residential growth in a distressed census tract,” according to the capital budget request.

Hamilton City Manager Joshua Smith said city officials have been in conversations with Retherford and Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., and believe the sizable request is “appropriate due to the size of the actual project.”

“We believe that return will come in a very short timeframe,” he said.

Other sources of funding committed to the Champion Mill Conference and Events Center project include federal, state, county and local money totaling more than $28.1 million.

The project is expected to have a significant economic impact, including creating 150 construction jobs, 80 full-time and 300 part-time new and permanent jobs, and generate more than $3.5 million in new taxes, according to the proposal.

The City of Hamilton, Hamilton City School District, Butler County, the Hamilton Community Foundation, the Butler County Visitors Bureau, Butler County Port Authority and developer Spooky Nook Sports, Inc. have partnered on the overall project.

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