Cincy agendaAs soon as the news broke that a new office tower would become the tallest structure in the picturesque Cincinnati skyline, a few critics began the carping about surpassing the Carew Tower or nitpicking the design.

Put us on record: We welcome the new “Great American Insurance Building at Queen City Square” as an exciting addition to a resurgent downtown business district. This tower signals to the world that Greater Cincinnati is moving forward, not stagnating.

The basics worth noting: 660 feet tall (86 more than the Carew). Forty stories, 825,000 square feet. Main entrance at Fourth and Sycamore. Architecture: HOK. Estimated completion date: 2011.

The skyscraper will complete the Queen City Square master planned development, a private-public partnership of the Western & Southern Financial Group, the city of Cincinnati and the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority. Thanks to the trio of Carl Lindner Jr., Craig Lindner and Carl Lindner III, the project got off the ground when the Lindners’ American Financial Group Inc. signed a long-term lease as the anchor tenant. As much as the Lindners love their hometown, Cincinnatians should never take for granted any corporation’s willingness to stay rooted here.

Special credit goes to John F. Barrett, chairman and CEO of Western & Southern Financial Group, for his diligence in pursuing this dream — and for directing the publicity spotlight toward the Lindners, not himself or his company.

Cincy agendaThe glow that Nick Lachey and his amateur choir cast over Cincy keeps radiating warmth.

The story is now established as local lore. NBC broadcasts a reality competition show called Clash of the Choirs. Enter Lachey, 34, who graduated from the Cincinnati School of Creative and Performing Arts, helped form the huge band 98° and starred on MTV. Thousands of Tristate voters put Team Lachey over the top. The $250,000 first prize goes to the Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

The positive publicity value was enormous. Lachey took every opportunity possible to tout his hometown and Children’s good work in international media channels. On New Year’s Eve, 18 members of the choir reunited to perform on Fountain Square, thrilling hundreds. Thanks to Lachey and these wonderful singers. Their gifts to Cincy keep on giving.

Good Riddance To Presidential Debate

The Clash of the Choirs PR bonanza reminds us of the kind of publicity we don’t need.
Cincinnati was rejected to host a presidential or vice presidential election debate this year. We breathed a sigh of relief.

Like any circus that comes to town, a debate would give the local economy a quick shot in the arm. The big prize, though, was the opportunity to draw worldwide attention to Cincy. Problem is, this wouldn’t be publicity to die for. It could have been publicity to die from.

Flash back to what happened in Cleveland in October 2004, when Dick Cheney and John Edwards squared off in a vice presidential debate at Case Western Reserve University. One question began “Mr. Vice President, the Census Bureau ranked Cleveland as the biggest poor city in the country, 31 percent jobless rate.” Then there was this response from Edwards: “Cleveland is a wonderful, distinguished city that‘s done a lot of great things, but it has the highest poverty rate in the country. One out of almost two children in Cleveland are now living in poverty.”
For most Clevelanders, this was a big “Ouch!” moment.

Had a big debate landed here, you can bet Cincinnati would be publicly connected again to “riots” and negative race relations — for all the world to hear.

The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber and the University of Cincinnati had the best intentions when they got us into the finalist round of debate sites. Remember, though, that when you cede control of the image you want to project, good intentions can backfire.