Lisa Bernard-Kuhn reports:
Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky rank better for income and jobs than two years ago, but the region still lags competing cities in overall economic strength, a new progress report shows.
The region ranks No. 10 out of 12 metro areas for overall economic prosperity, beating only Cleveland and Louisville, according to the 2012 Regional Indicators Report out today.
That’s unchanged from 2010 when the first indicators report was published as a first-of-its-kind scorecard comparing our region with 11 other metro areas that compete for jobs, talent and business.
The Regional Indicators Report is being updated every two years to monitor progress in 15 key areas.
The study is commissioned by Agenda 360 in Greater Cincinnati and Vision 2015 in Northern Kentucky.
The nonprofits, charged with charting long-term growth strategies for the region, say the report offers an essential tool for leaders of all stripes as they implement strategies to boost the local economy and improve quality of life.
“By establishing a baseline and a process to align the community toward these particular indicators means, we will see progress over time,” says Bill Scheyer, president of Vision 2015. “These are large numbers across a large community, and they won’t change rapidly.”
The fact that the region’s overall ranking hasn’t changed in two years shouldn’t be discouraging, says Mary Stagaman, executive director of Agenda 360.
“I don’t think any of these indicators are numbers that are easy to move,” she says. “It reminds us that what we’ve set out to do here is slow, patient, incremental work that takes time to see measurable impacts.”
Of the indicators measured, the region ranked higher in six areas, including unemployment, average annual wages and educational attainment.
Three areas were unchanged: Total jobs, net migration and older population.
But six areas, including poverty, venture capital and cost of living, declined in the rankings from two years ago.
“I was surprised that we dropped in the cost of living,” Scheyer says. “It’s always been such a strength for us.”
Stagaman and Scheyer say they expect business and community leaders to take note of the 2012 results.
The first report prompted several initiatives, including a Cincinnati Business Committee task force on innovation. That effort led to the recently launched business accelerator Cintrifuse.
The indicators reports also are helping inform other detailed studies, including the recently published 2020 Jobs Outlook, which matches education requirements for the jobs of the future.
“We feel like we’ve staked out some territory around data and the economy, and we have a responsibility now to continue to produce data-driven reports that remind people about important issues,” Stagaman says.
In December, Agenda 360 and Vision 2015 will release an in-depth report on the region’s diversity, which Stagaman says ties directly to the region’s stagnant population trends.
“We know we’re chasing young professionals in this region, and we’ve had some success, but we need more,” she says.
“We think one of our barriers is the lack of diversity and perceptions around inclusion.”
She says the upcoming study should spark new conversations about “what we might do to build a community and wor force that looks more like the global economy that we compete in today.”
In the coming months, Stagaman and Scheyer say they will share the 2012 indicators report with business, educational and community leaders.