The new port authority in Warren County is "another tool in our toolbox" for development, says Kimm Coyner, Warren's economic development director. You might even call it a power tool. "It certainly can allow projects to proceed more quickly," Coyner says, noting it allows more flexibility as well.

 

Among those possible projects is a large-scale sports complex proposed near Mason.

 

The port authority, a political subdivision, has power to borrow money, finance projects, and buy and lease property. A seven-member authority board named by the county commissioners will work to attract high-wage jobs. Coyner expects efforts at encouraging commercial growth, particularly along the I-75 corridor, to begin this spring.

 

With Warren being one of Ohio's fastest-growing counties, "we have a lot of growth opportunities," says Coyner, who will serve as the administrative arm of the authority in a non-voting capacity. In addition to its potential to make the most of opportunities, Warren officials established the board because neighboring counties have port authorities.

 

Funds to start the authority, to the tune of $20,000 to $25,000, will come from hotel-motel bed tax revenue. Those amounts have been higher than expected, in part because of the opening of Great Wolf Lodge near Kings Island. The authority is expected to later become self-sufficient through project revenue. Coyner notes that county commissioners retain the power to offer development tax incentives.

 

Holly Childs is Cincinnati's new director of economic development, replacing Chad Munitz, who left last year to work for the Cincinnati Center City Development Co. (3CDC). Childs was economic development director for Goodyear, Ariz., and has 11 years experience in that field. City Manager Milton Dohoney Jr. describes her as a "proven deal maker. " Rodney Carson, vice president of economic development for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, notes Childs' international experience. In 2001, she won a competition to be the first American to participate as a trade representative in a Chamber program in Nagoya, Japan.

 

Liberty Township officials are creating an economic development director position. The township, with a growing population of more than 33,000, wants to attract a mixture of businesses to the 18 percent of its acreage  zoned for commercial use. "We want to develop that 18 percent the best way we can," says Dina Minneci, township administrator.

 

West Chester will see the opening of a new convention center this fall. The Savannah Center at Chappell Crossing will be able to host 1,200 people indoors and up to 440 more lakeside. The 42,000-square-foot convention center and event facility, off Beckett Road in the Union Centre district, is slated for completion in November.

 

The Center for Entrepreneurship Education & Research at the University of Cincinnati College of Business selected Calvin J. Brown as the new director of its Ohio Small Business Development Center. Brown previously served as the special projects and programs coordinator for the SBDC. Brown replaces former director Bill Fioretti, who retired.

 

The Warren County Convention & Visitors Bureau hired two employees and promoted two others. Theresa Najdovski was hired by the bureau as director of sales, and Dawn Schroeder accepted a new position as group sales manager. WCCVB promoted Christy Harp and Ryan Widmer to marketing manager and sports marketing manager, respectively.

 

Harp has been with the bureau since June 2002 when she was an intern. She works on the bureau's monthly e-newsletter, the Warren County Official Visitor Guide and the Tourism Advertising Assistance Grant Program.

 

Widmer joined the WCCVB in 2004 as sports marketing assistant.

Najdovski's responsibilities are to promote hotel and conference properties to the small meetings and conference market and direct the promotion of the county to the group travel and motor coach markets.

 

Schroeder's duties focus on building the WCCVB group and meeting programs. She'll promote travel itineraries and group meetings that support hotels, attractions and events that build  business to the tourism community.

 

Tourism is the largest economic generator in Warren County, with 6.4 million visitors each year, who create $637 million in revenue.

 

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