Funding for neighborhood business districts in jeopardy

May 23, 2014

Streetscape improvement in one of the Cincinnati's neighborhood business districts.
Credit Provided/City of Cincinnati

Cincinnati's proposed budget cuts funding for a program that guides revitalization and growth activities in some of the city's neighborhood business districts.  

The all-volunteer group has received about $1 to $3 million a year from the city for many years.  But the currently proposed spending plan cuts a large chunk of city capital money for Cincinnati Neighborhood Business District United.

That would leave the group with only about half of the funding it has received in the past.  It would still get federal money from community development block grants, but that can only be spent on certain improvements and cannot be used in some neighborhoods.  

Board Member Michael Hauck said says the organization wants to fund projects that can get done.  He said the program is unique because it is peer-reviewed by the people and neighborhoods participating.

“They have to go out and witness every one of the projects,” Hauck said.  “There’s a bus tour that takes everybody around and you actually physically see each of the proposed projects.  The second thing is that they witness a presentation about those projects, and then they rate those projects against 11-point criteria.”

Between 1995 and 2013, the group has recommended funding for 267 projects in 34 Cincinnati neighborhoods.  The city funded all of them.

The funding pays for things like streetscapes, gateways, facades, parking lots and wayfinding signs.  

Hauck said for every $1 the city invested, there's a private match of $7.

“This is a program that consistently gets some significant things in the city done,” Hauck said.  “And we really work together to get quite a bit of really good work done.”  

The organization will be lobbying the mayor and council to restore its full funding.