Report Provides Wake-Up Call
 
High poverty. Few jobs. More people moving out than moving in "” it's not a pretty picture.

The Regional Indicators Report is a scorecard produced in collaboration with Agenda 360 and Vision 2015. It is, well, grim. The groups, economic development initiatives for Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, respectively, compared the Tristate to "peer regions." We placed 10 of 12, besting only Cleveland and Louisville.

We are behind in college graduation levels. Our skilled labor pool needs to grow. We need more high-paying jobs.

No surprise, says Mary Stagaman, executive director of Agenda 360. "We knew before the downturn that we hadn't kept up with the rate of growth nationally."

But that doesn't mean giving up on regional goals to keep talented workers and provide economic opportunity. The next step is to speak up, says Bill Scheyer, president of Vision 2015. "We'll try to really push the material out and get a commitment from people to keep an eye on the indicators and push them forward."

The region has momentum and profound strengths. There's spectacular development along the riverfront, and our colleges are re-defining themselves to meet the needs of the future. The Tristate has the tools to change, and thanks to the report, there is a map to success. So, let's get to it.
 
 
 Casino Cash = Streetcar Bust?

Cincinnati City Council caused a firestorm when it eschewed public debate and went behind closed doors to set priorities for spending the expected $20 million in new casino revenues. The move outraged the public, prompted a lawsuit and caused accusations to fly amongst council members.

Council played the Scarlet O'Hara card and announced it will deal with it tomorrow. As in, next year.

Frankly, earmarking 25 percent of new money for the contentious but expected streetcar could be a deal breaker during the next round of city elections. Also next year.

Council has played the end around before. Because of loopholes in the law, rooted in weak legal language, and because the issue isn't a constitutional one, council can effectively choose to be secretive. But it's simply anti-democratic to avoid debate.

The city faces a $60 million deficit, police layoffs and a royal mess with underfunded pensions. Harrah's has named a construction team but has not yet broken ground on the casino, and revenues aren't expected until 2013. So, with the promise of an NAACP ballot initiative next year that would allow citizens to vote on how to spend the money, council is priming for debate.

Wherever the money goes, it's vital.