Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory calls it a "big deal," and the numbers do add up. Humana Insurance Co. plans to consolidate hundreds of employees in a six-story, $86-million office building to be built off Gilbert Avenue north of Eden Park Drive, and completed in the fall of 2008.

Along with a new brand-name hotel (to be named), built atop a 1,100-car parking garage, the project would compose a diamond-shaped complex with Humana and the existing Milacron and Baldwin buildings off Gilbert Avenue, according to Northern Kentucky developer Corporex, which will build the project and lease space to Humana. Plans also call for the fitness, wellness and food service facilities.
The city of Cincinnati and the state of Ohio stepped up with tax incentives based on a guarantee of 300 new Humana jobs within three years. (The deal is still subject to City Council approval.) Humana would consolidate operations of about 900 existing employees now working at three locations in Cincinnati and Newport. Based in Louisville, Humana says it expects local operations to increase in response to growth in its healthcare, dental and life insurance businesses, making it one of the top 30 employers in the city. Humana-Ohio President Tim Cappel credited Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, the mayor, City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. and their staffs for helping craft an attractive package. Construction might begin in late May.

The Butler County Convention and Visitors Bureau has formed a strategic alliance with the Middletown CVB, according to Mark Hecquet, executive director for the Butler County organization. Described as an "economic partnership," the Butler CVB will assume sales and marketing for the Middletown CVB. The alliance offers efficiencies in operations, Hecquet says. "The resources of the Butler County CVB far outweigh what we can do on our own," notes David Pearce, president of the Middletown CVB. Hecquet, along with Butler CVB staff members Debbie Pendl and Christy Harp, recently opened new offices at 8750 Union Centre Road in West Chester.

Les Crooks of SMG has been named general manager of Northern Kentucky University's new Bank of Kentucky Center, the 10,000-seat arena and events venue that is scheduled to open in fall 2008. NKU is contracting with Philadelphia-based SMG for center management. Crooks has served in a variety of positions with SMG, most recently as GM of the Eastern Kentucky Exposition Center in Pikesville. He also has eight years of experience working in sports, including minor professional leagues and NCAA programs. He holds B.A. and MBA degrees from the University of Dayton.

The West Chester Chamber Alliance's 2007 Annual Luncheon and Business Expo attracted nearly 1,100 people to Skatetown USA. For the luncheon meeting, about 650 people paid $30 to enjoy "A Taste of West Chester/Liberty": meals prepared by 14 restaurants, country clubs and caterers located in West Chester and Liberty Townships. Guest speaker Rupert Boneham, popular contestant in TV's Survivor and an entrepreneur, talked about Rupert's Kids, the non-profit organization he created to help get children off the streets. The business expo featured 125 exhibitors from a variety of business sectors. Chamber CEO Joe Hinson said the organization has grown to 800 members and is aiming for 1,100. Kristin Spanogians, the Chamber's Alliance's special events coordinator, led the team that organized and managed the event. More information is available at www.westchesterchamberalliance.com.

Economic development news relevant to the Tristate legal community may be e-mailed to news@cincybusinessmag.com.