How is business in Butler County? 3 city managers take stock amid pandemic

Middletown official says the city needs to take advantage of the federal opportunity zone that stretches from Middletown Regional Airport, along the Great Miami River and downtown district for future economic development and redevelopment opportunities. FILE PHOTO



Dan Dickten has retired as manager of the Middletown Regional Airport. The city will seek a replacement for his position. FILE PHOTO
Middletown official says the city needs to take advantage of the federal opportunity zone that stretches from Middletown Regional Airport, along the Great Miami River and downtown district for future economic development and redevelopment opportunities. FILE PHOTO Dan Dickten has retired as manager of the Middletown Regional Airport. The city will seek a replacement for his position. FILE PHOTO

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Multiple area city managers recently gave a report on the priorities for their areas as they also handle fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

Here’s what they had to say:

TRENTON

Trenton City Manager Marco Nichols, who has been on the job for the past 18 months, said the city had to reduce 20% of its annual paving program as a result of lesser revenues coming in as a result of the pandemic.

He said that Ohio Logistics is investing $5 million to add 100,000 square-feet for its facility. The city is also working with Todd Homes for the Mapleview and Elk Creek subdivisions, and a new roundabout at Wayne-Madison and Trenton roads is planned in 2021. Nichols said new commercial and retail space is also being developed with the new subdivisions.

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Nichols said the Industrial Park is in the process of landing a new company that is planning to invest $25 million for a 200,000 square-foot building that could have 400 jobs.

He said the city is focusing on four pillars: Connecting the Community; Economic Vitality; Operational Excellence; and Strong and Secure Neighborhoods.

MONROE

Monroe City Manager Bill Brock, who has been with the city for 21 years, including the past 17 years as city manager, said the city’s COVID-19 response was “stable.”

“Income tax collection was stable and showed a little growth over last year,” he said. "We have a diverse business mix. Our logistics centers are busy and we’re working to find ways to help local businesses.

Brock said all of the new protocols for COVID-19 were put into place and the city reduced its budget by 5% as well as froze city employee wages.

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He praised businessesfor their efforts to keep communicating with their people and to keep them working. Brock some of the larger businesses were helping the smaller businesses by donating masks, information materials or sending lunches for employees and first responders.

Brock said the city is working to complete its updated comprehensive master plan, renewing its focus to develop much needed “move-up housing." He said Park North industrial park is completely full, the new Kroger robotic warehouse and distribution center on Ohio 63 is almost done and the new city police station opens later this year.

MIDDLETOWN

Middletown City Manager Jim Palenick started his new role as city manager in mid-July and has been working to meet residents, community stakeholders, business leaders and learn more about Middletown.

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Palenick wants to focus his time on several key issues such as the upcoming vote to increase the city’s 1.75% income tax by 0.25% to be used exclusively on paving streets. If voters approve, the city is proposing the 10-year income tax increase to raise about $31.1 million for a bond issue for a massive construction project in 2021 and 2022 using the additional revenues to pay off the bonds.

Palenick said he wants to address outstanding issues at the Middletown Regional Airport and work on new development there because it is in a federal opportunity zone. He said the city wants the skydiving business to succeed as long as other businesses are not inhibited.

The last areas of focus includes economic development and redevelopment using the federal opportunity zone and capital needs such as replacing all four fire stations and address the city jail issue.

“We need to make sure we avoid poorly thought out deals,” Palenick said. “We need to be strategic, market-driven, sustainable and place-based.”