I want to give my two cents on a topic which seems to be top of mind for those in business economic development circles"”how to keep Chiquita in Cincinnati. Perhaps a particularly niche topic, but a passion of mine nonetheless.

I joke that I sometimes wonder why I get a regular seat at downtown business lunches and I'm not put in the "limited view" section. I say this in jest because one of my opinions about economic development sometimes gets me in hot water. I have always held the view that because we are a Tristate region, we are at an advantage in that we essentially have three states to offer incentive packages to companies seeking a better deal. An example is that of U.S. Playing Card, which recently chose to move their headquarters across the river to Northern Kentucky because they got a better deal on tax abatements. You might have also seen that Omnicare recently high-tailed it out of Covington for a return back to Cincinnati. So, as these companies are given the luxury of playing site selection ping-pong, my argument is that we, as a region, are better off when companies at least stay in the local area.

Compare these two moves to that of NCR in Dayton, which moved to a suburb of Atlanta, leaving many to ask if we did everything we could to keep them here. They could not get a good deal from Ohio. Now they are not only gone "” but way gone.

Earlier this year, Cincy had the privilege of having Fernando Aguirre from Chiquita as a keynote speaker at an event. We were very impressed as he shared his experience as an "Undercover Boss" on the TV show. It was well before the news that the company was looking at
relocation options. While researching Chiquita in the news, I came upon an initiative by two local marketers, Kevin Dugan and J.B. Kropp. They launched an aggressive online campaign a couple of months ago through Twitter letting Aguirre know directly why they thought he should keep the headquarters in Cincinnati. The effort was so successful that it was reported by the national media including an interview by National Public Radio.

After hearing Aguirre speak, it didn't surprise me that he responded over Twitter with a respectful and congenial thank you. The effort by Dugan and Kropp makes me proud to call Cincinnati home. Soon after they launched the Twitter effort, Charlotte, which has offered an incentive package to lure Chiquita, launched its own online campaign. They have also had a good response.

I am encouraged that the state of communications allows for this new kind of participation from true stakeholders.

Mark Twain is reported to have said "When the end of the world comes, I want to be in Cincinnati because it's always 20 years behind the times."

Guess what Mark, things are changing, as seen in efforts like these by Dugan and Kropp.

And Charlotte, as for you, I hope you don't mind playing second fiddle regardless of the outcome.

See the campaign to keep Chiquita on Twitter @nocincybananasplit.