Ohio City Growth Should Aid Residents, Not Just Restaurant-Goers, New Development Chief Says
Tom McNair had been serving as acting executive director for Ohio City Incorporated since the previous director left in June. Now he takes over as permanent chief, beating out external candidates for the job.
McNair led economic development for the organization during a period when he said Ohio City’s commercial vacancy rate plunged from 40 percent to 2 percent in just four and a half years.
The neighborhood now attracts diners and bar-goers from throughout Northeast Ohio. That’s great, but it’s not the only priority, McNair said. "While the nightlife gets a lot of attention, you know, it’s always our goal to help bring businesses that work for the people who live here."
The agency wants to entice a fitness center to serve the neighborhood’s 12,000 residents, for instance.
McNair said one way the group is working to keep families in the city is by supporting a kids’ recreation program with other near-west neighborhoods. The demand for that seems clear – McNair said participation in a soccer league has more than doubled this year from last.
But Ohio City’s success has added more lines to the new director’s to-do list.
"We’ve filled a lot of the vacant space in the main commercial district. We’re trying to find ways to bring more properties online," he said.
McNair said with the neighborhood’s popularity, the challenge now is trying to meet demand.