Joshua Smith, city manager of Hamilton, OH, (pop. 62,486) has been recognized for his contributions to the city’s economic development.
Development Counsellors International, a New York-based firm that specializes in economic development marketing and placemaking, named Smith as a recipient of its inaugural “Forty Under 40” award. The award recognizes rising stars in economic development.
The award recognized Smith for his role in the newly created CORE (Consortium for Ongoing Reinvestment Efforts) Fund, which mobilizes private funding for redevelopment of Hamilton’s downtown and urban core.
As with many U.S. urban centers, Hamilton’s historic downtown had deteriorated and then found new life. It had lost its hotel and department store. Simultaneously, the largest private employer began to shift its workforce from downtown offices to a new location in another Ohio city. The downtown also lacked market-rate living opportunities, so buildings that had historically been mixed-use sat dark and empty.
The fundamental question of how to fix downtown Hamilton shifted from “How do we bring people downtown after 5 pm?” to “How do we put people downtown?”
In recent years, the hotel has been transformed into a Courtyard by Marriott; the first 29 market-rate living units in downtown were constructed and are virtually full; a downtown park and amphitheater are slated for completion in spring 2013; and a number of restaurants, bars, coffee shops, art galleries, and retail outlets have opened.
As Hamilton comes back to life, its downtown is attracting new “knowledge economy” businesses, as well as young professionals and empty-nesters alike who want to live downtown or in one of the three surrounding historic districts.