Since Cincy Business came on the scene in 2004, we've been content to observe and report. But any business magazine desires a healthy, growing business environment. Telling the good stories, the success stories, is one way to nurture that climate. We see a need, however, to also address what hinders our potential"”the factors that threaten to choke our growth. These are not problems. They're challenges. But it's too easy for all of us to get distracted, to lose the sense of urgency and momentum to overcome these obstacles.
So, we introduce Cincy Agenda to aim a spotlight at some of those challenges in the Tristate. We'll keep the beam hot and focused until we see the kind of progress Cincy Business readers expect, as we know many of you are out front, leading these changes. Those who make a positive difference will not go unnoticed. Our hope is to stimulate the dialogue and energy that fuel solutions.

CRIME:
Bates is Right
The day after Cincinnati's police chief proclaimed the city as one of the safest in the nation, and asserted that the media exaggerates crime, city school board member Melanie Bates stood before City Council and said: "We are not a safe city. You are the leaders. Do something about it now." Just days before, her husband, Philip, had been shot and killed in front of their North Avondale home, not far from his beloved Xavier University. Then a woman was mugged while walking from a candlelight vigil held at the Bates home. Chief Streicher, we respect your position and the tough mission laid before you. But we bet about 98 percent of Greater Cincinnatians agree with Melanie Bates. A new Hamilton County jail is only one piece of the solution. Where's the strong, Rudy Giuliani-style political leadership and resolve to get a grip on this? 

Progress report: Which streets and neighborhoods have you added lately to your "Avoid!" list?


ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
Renew Our Riverfronts
As this edition went to press, a developer was to be selected"”finally"”for The Banks project on Cincinnati's riverfront. Newport jumped ahead by naming Corporex (which bailed on The Banks) and Boorn Partners to build the Ovation development at the junction of the Ohio and Licking rivers. Both are envisioned as $600 million mixed-use projects: residential, office, retail and entertainment. Why do we expect Ovation to be completed first? Hamilton County and City of Cincinnati politics, that's why. One reason for optimism: Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini, a can-do kind of guy, is chairing the Banks Working Group. Ideally, we'll see the day when both sides of the river are fully re-invigorated with exciting places to live, work, shop, eat and play.

Progress report: Inching closer.


EDUCATION
Striving Higher
If the potential trajectory of a regional, collaborative initiative could be measured by the influence and expertise of the people involved, "Strive" is launching on high octane. The goal of this broad-based mission: Make it possible for every child in Cincinnati, Covington and Newport to graduate from a college or other postsecondary school"”and knock down cost as a hurdle. (See page 16.) Credit the KnowledgeWorks Foundation and many other stakeholders for pulling together on this. A similar effort begun last year in Kalamazoo, Mich., reportedly is reversing population losses and raising property values. Every effort to improve local education is essential to our metro well-being. And maybe we'll see the day when our school systems don't have to lurch from one tax-levy crisis to another.

Progress report: Promising, but the devil is indeed in the details.


TRANSPORTATION:
Transform CVG
Why does a conservative, Republican-dominated community"”where free market competition is as sacred as "family values""”tolerate a costly transportation monopoly? And why is our international airport controlled by a few politicians from one county in a 13-county metro region? (See story on page 31.) The old excuses are wearing out. Delta and Comair are bankrupt, there's no end in sight to the layoffs, and the number of non-stop flights decline while the fares climb. Greater Cincinnati travelers deserve more air transportation options, without having to drive hours to get them. This is especially true for the small and medium businesses dependent on air travel"”and we see no organization publicly standing up for them on this. Every year, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport goes through the charade of seeking competing airlines. Don't believe this PR dance until you see a Southwest or JetBlue given a fighting chance to survive there.

Progress report: The same old holding pattern.