Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallory is on a mission to support economic development in his city, and he’s using smart growth and downtown development strategies to accomplish that goal.
“People were slow to embrace some of the changes we were proposing because they didn’t necessarily see how, say, the development of a street car would lead to more jobs,” Mallory says in Smart Growth America’s first “Smart Growth Stories” video interview. “They didn’t necessarily see how investing so much money in downtown allowed for improvements in neighborhoods. So I’ve had to explain to people that downtown is the engine, the economic engine, for everything that happens in our entire region.”
Why smart growth, and why now? That’s the question Smart Growth America is posing to elected officials and local community leaders as part of a new video interview series, “Smart Growth Stories.” The series will highlight some of the most interesting and exciting smart growth work being done across the country.
Since being elected in 2005, Mallory has rolled out a series of initiatives aimed at developing and promoting previously under-utilized parts of Cincinnati. Most notably, he backed a streetcar proposal that faced significant setbacks, including millions of dollars in withdrawn state funding. Despite those challenges, the City broke ground earlier this year on the $110 million line, which will run from the downtown area’s central riverfront to the “Over-the-Rhine” neighborhood. A 2007 report concluded that a 3.9-mile streetcar system would produce $1.4 billion in long-term benefits and thousands of new jobs.
Mallory’s administration has also helped to guide a series of downtown improvement projects, including The Banks Riverfront Park, Fountain Square, Great American Tower and the Over-the-Rhine Renaissance. The way he sees it, smart growth initiatives and transit-oriented development enable job creation, facilitate commerce, and drive community interaction.
In using taxpayer dollars more effectively and in investing in the right kinds of projects, Mallory hopes Cincinnati will grow bigger and stronger than ever before.
“Well times are tough, and you will hear people use that term, that you shouldn’t do something in these economic times,” he says. “And I absolutely disagree with that. I think that these economic times require you to invest in the things that you know are going to grow your future. That you know are going to grow your economy, or bring jobs, or bring a more livable city to your citizens.”
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