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Cincinnati In The News

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Price Hill volunteer Patti Hogan and Soapbox writer Liz McEwan interviewed on WVXU

Price Hill's "super-volunteer" Patti Hogan was profiled in a recent Soapbox story by Liz McEwan, and the reaction from friends, neighbors and residents was extremely positive — many feel that the West Side doesn't get enough attention for its efforts to improve. WVXU's "Cincinnati Edition" agreed, asking Hogan and McEwan to appear on the program April 9 to discuss Price Hill's struggles and successes.

Listen to the WVXU interview here.

Tolls on the rise as highway funding dries up

With shortfalls in federal transportation spending and the Highway Trust Fund, the Brookings Institution's Robert Puentes says that states and localities are exploring more tolls to support new capacity and other ongoing improvements.

"In 2013, for instance, tolls covered about 5,400 miles across all interstate and non-interstate roadways nationally, a 15.1 percent jump since 2003," he writes. "Toll roads have expanded their mileage by nearly 350 miles, or 7 percent, since 2011 alone. By comparison, total system mileage has grown by only 3.6 percent over the past decade."

Which leads us, as always, to stalled discussions over replacing the Brent Spence Bridge — where tolls seem to be an inevitability except to the Kentucky legislators who control the project.

Cincinnati Magazine partnered with UC's Niehoff Urban Studio recently to look at the future of transportation, including an interesting option to build the new highway bridge west of Longworth Hall (see rendering above).

Read the full Brookings article here.

How Cincinnati's Jim Obergefell became the face of the Supreme Court gay marriage case

The Washington Post has an in-depth feature story on Cincinnati's Jim Obergefell, whose name is attached to the consolidated cases the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing soon to decide whether gay couples have a constitutional right to marry.

“If the Supreme Court decides in favor of full marriage equality, it will be the largest conferral of rights on LGBT people in the history of our country," the story quotes Fred Sainz, vice president of communications at the Human Rights Campaign. "There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Jim will become a historic figure."

Obergefell married John Arthur in July 2013 in a medical jet at Baltimore-Washington International Airport because Ohio doesn't allow gay marriages while Maryland does. Arthur was dying from ALS and would pass several months later. Obergefell sued the state of Ohio to have his name listed as Arthur's surviving spouse, and the decisions and appeals resulting from that lawsuit have now reached the Supreme Court as Obergefell v. Hodges.

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati weather ranked high on "dreariness index"

No, it's not your imagination. Cincinnati really is a pretty dreary place weather-wise.

Meteorologist Brian Brettschneider, author of Brian B's Climate Blog and someone apparently with a lot of time on his hands, has devised a formula to rank U.S. cities on a "dreariness index." Taking into account annual precipitation, number of days with precipitation and cloudiness, Brettschneider has determined that Cincinnati is tied for the fifth worst weather with Cleveland and Lexington, Ky.

In general, the Midwest and Northeast fare badly in the rankings while the sunny, dry Southwest has the best weather. Joining Cincinnati in dreariness are Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Boston, Newark, Columbus, Indianapolis and of course the poster children for rain and clouds, Seattle and Portland.

Read the full story here.

Get an M.B.A. from Indiana University if you want to work at P&G

Media outlets love to do splashy high school and college graduation stories at this time of the year, and The New York Times is no exception. Today's Education Life section has a story about how to choose the right university for your M.B.A. degree, which The Times says "has clearly become a commodity."

"Conventional wisdom will tell you that Harvard is for Fortune 500 jobs, Wharton for Wall Street, Kellogg for marketing and Insead for multinational entities," the story continues. "There's truth to some of it, but times change, and so do employers' recruiting preferences."

If you want to work at Procter & Gamble, for instance, you should enroll at Indiana University's Kelley School of Business.

"P&G clearly has a thing for Kelley," the story says. "The school is its biggest source of brand managers. Of the 172 Kelley alumni there, the most senior is Marc S. Pritchard, the chief brand officer."

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati is #10 best city for college graduates to find work, housing and fun

Cincinnati makes another list of the best U.S. cities, this time from Rent.com.

"Spring is in the air, and for many college seniors this also means it’s graduation season," says the intro to a new study at Rent.com. "Aside from coordinating their cap and gown, college graduates are also faced with many major life decisions, like where they will land a job and what city they want to live in."

By Rent.com's measures, Cincinnati is the 10th best U.S. city for college grads to start out their careers and lives. The top three are Washington, D.C.; Minneapolis-St. Paul; and Denver.

Read the full article here.

Columbus firefighters to fill shifts here so Cincinnati staff can attend funeral

"Columbus brethren to help Cincinnati firefighters during funeral" says the Columbus Dispatch headline, describing a touching tribute within the brotherhood of firefighters grieving the death of Cincinnati Fire Dept.'s Daryl Gordon last week.

As many as 126 Columbus firefighters will travel here tomorrow to fill regular shifts in the city as Cincinnati Fire Dept. personnel attend Gordon's funeral at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral downtown. All are donating off-duty time to allow Cincinnati firefighters to honor their colleague.

Read the full story here.

Renovated food markets in New Orleans offer lessons for Cincinnati

New Orleans once had 34 neighborhood food markets, with historic roots to a time before modern refrigeration when neighborhood shopping was central to daily life. Many closed post-WWII, as population moved to the suburbs, and most of the remaining markets were shuttered by Hurricane Katrina.

Next City has a feature story on the rebirth of three neighborhood markets in New Orleans, two as traditional neighborhood markets and one as a museum.

"In all of our post-Katrina work, what we find is that people want what they had, except they didn’t understand that what they had was very difficult to have to begin with," says Cedric Grant, executive director of the New Orleans Building Corporation, which is spearheading the renovations. "And now you have to really imagine something new."

These efforts remind us of the tremendous asset Cincinnati has in Findlay Market, a neighborhood market that has withstood the decline of its Over-the-Rhine surroundings and seems poised to benefit from redevelopment there, including the new streetcar line.

Description of the efforts to revive neighborhood food markets in New Orleans — including interaction with residents and struggles to develop the right business model — might offer lessons for movements to bring co-op markets to local neighborhoods like Clifton and Northside.

Read the full article here.

Potential Seattle streetcar changes could impact national movement

Seattle followed Portland to build the second modern streetcar system in the U.S., featuring one downtown line, a second that's about to open and a third in the planning stages. Overall ridership grew steadily after the first line opened in 2008, the transit website Transport Politic says, but usage flattened out in 2013 and actually declined in 2014.

"The problem may have something to do with the way the streetcar runs: In the street, sharing lanes with cars," says Transport Politic Editor Yonah Freemark in a new blog post. "The results have been slow vehicles — the line's scheduled service averages less than eight miles per hour — often held back by traffic and a lack of reliability. This can produce horror stories of streetcars getting stuck for half an hour or more behind other vehicles and, combined with infrequent service, it certainly reinforces the sense that streetcars are too slow and unreliable to provide any serious transportation benefit.

"This is a problem shared by every existing and planned modern streetcar line in the country, suggesting that the streetcar designed to run in the street with cars may, over the long term, simply fail to attract riders who grow increasingly frustrated with the quality of service provided."

Sobering thoughts for those anticipating long-term success for the Cincinnati Streetcar, which will run in street traffic along its entire route.

Seattle is now studying the idea of dedicated lanes for its third streetcar line, with the idea of providing quicker travel times. Freeman thinks that new approach could "demonstrat(e) that one of the fundamental problems with today's modern streetcar movement can, in fact, be addressed, albeit a few years late. If it shows that those dedicated lanes can reduce disruptions and speed up service, it hopefully won't be long until we see them in cities across the country, from Atlanta to Portland."

Read the full article here.

Constella Festival is "challenging the misconceptions of classical music"

Cincinnati's annual Constella Festival of Music & Fine Arts is called "the festival that's challenging the misconceptions of classical music" in a preview article published in Huffington Post's Arts & Culture section.

In December Soapbox wrote about founder Tatiana Berman's efforts to expand Constella's reach by employing more digital promotions that "target audiences nationally to come to Cincinnati." This Huffington Post piece will certainly help with her goal.

"Unlike the standard classical music circuit — characterized by what Berman's team describes as the 100 concert a year demanding schedule — Constella seeks to, in essence, maintain the intimacy of classical music, but encourage the experimentation and chance-taking," the article says.

The Constella Festival runs April 8-19 at Memorial Hall, Woodward Theatre, Cincinnati Art Museum, SCPA and several other venues. Get festival details and buy tickets here.

Read the full Huffington Post article here.

Search is on for next great urban innovation idea

Governing Magazine's City Accelerator section is all about "local government innovations that make a difference in the lives of city residents," and the current push is a collaboration with Citi Foundation and Living Cities to reinvigorate local democracy in American cities. Seven cities are finalists in a contest of sorts to get help developing the systems, skills and knowledge to adopt innovative approaches into their normal course of business.

Cincinnati isn't one of the finalists, but these cities are: Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New Orleans and Seattle. Each city is pitching a specific project it needs help with, from engaging immigrant entrepreneurs to involving residents in updating the city's 20-year comprehensive plan. Each city has a video pitch on the site.

You can vote for and comment on your favorite pitches, and judges will take your votes into consideration when making final decisions on the winners.

Read the full story here.

Forbes ranks Cincinnati as #5 most affordable U.S. city

Cincinnati continues to get kudos for our affordability, this time from Forbes, which ranks Cincinnati #5 on its list of the 20 most affordable U.S. cities. Last week HSH mortgage brokers ranked Cincinnati the fourth cheapest among 27 major U.S. cities for the salary needed to pay a mortgage on the median home price.

Forbes based its ranking on housing costs, too, but added a cost of living index that measures the cost of food, utilities, gas, transportation, medical expenses and other daily expenses in each area.

Birmingham, Ala. was ranked the #1 most affordable city, and several others in our region scored highly: Dayton #8, Indianapolis #9, Columbus and Detroit #10 (tie), Louisville #13 and Akron #15.

Brian Carley, President and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, gets a prominent mention in the ranking's introduction, offering one explanation for our affordability: “Nobody’s looking to gouge anybody. Instead, everything’s reasonably priced.” Well, that's a relief!

Read the full Forbes story here.


Craft beer & community development on WVXU

Soapbox Managing Editor John Fox was joined by Michael Albarella from Nine Giant Brewing and Doug Newberry from Wiedemann Brewing March 5 on WVXU's "Cincinnati Edition" program to discuss the upcoming forum on Cincinnati's embrace of craft beer as community development. Nine Giant is building a brewery and taproom in Pleasant Ridge, while Wiedemann is doing likewise in Newport; both plan to be open by fall 2015.

Albarella and Newberry will be panelists, along with Bryant Goulding of Rhinegeist, 5:00-7:00 p.m. March 11 at UC's Niehoff Urban Studio, bringing beer samples as well. The event is free and open to anyone 21 and older.

Read about the March 11 forum and RSVP here.

Listen to the WVXU interview here.

Cincinnati housing among the most affordable for major U.S. cities

Cincinnati ranks the fourth cheapest among 27 major U.S. cities for the salary needed to pay a mortgage on the median home price, according to a report from online HSH mortgage brokers. The report is analyzed by Next City, the news website dedicated to transforming cities and inspiring people who live in them.

Pittsburgh ranks as the cheapest city in the report, with an annual salary of $31,716 required to afford a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage there, where the median home price is $135,000. Cincinnatians need a salary of $33,485 to afford a home mortgage. The rest of the top five cheapest housing are #2 Cleveland, #3 St. Louis and #5 Detroit.

The highest salaries needed to afford a median home price are San Diego ($95,433) and San Francisco ($142,448).

Read the full story here.

Cincinnati #3 among U.S. cities in company growth and relocation

Site Selection magazine and website has unveiled its ranking of the top U.S. cities for economic activity, based on the number of companies expanding or relocating, and Cincinnati ranks third behind Chicago and Houston and ahead of Dallas and Atlanta. There were 196 expansion/relocation projects in Greater Cincinnati in 2014, according to the rankings.

The report includes a nice feature section about Cincinnati under the headline "All-Star Success in an All-Star City."

"Several years ago Major League Baseball selected Cincinnati to be the site of the 2015 All Star Game," the article says. "But the city on the banks of the Ohio River has been a top choice for companies for long time and last year it climbed three spots, from number six to number three, among Site Selection’s Top Metros."

The section highlights decisions by ThyssenKrupp Bilstein and Empower to expand in this region instead of moving out and quotes Johnna Reeder, president and CEO of the Regional Economic Development Initiative (REDI): “While other regions fought to hang on during the 2008 recession, Cincinnati doubled down with investment in infrastructure and housing. It’s created an environment where new companies are moving to town and expanding. Cincinnati is hot right now.”

Read the full story here.
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