A time of “Renaissance”

Gary A. Huff ICMA-CM is the City Manager of the City of Piqua

December 13, 2013

The City of Piqua is entering a time of “Renaissance”. Numerous projects recently completed, currently underway, or in the planning stagewill have a significant positive impact on the future of the city and community. It is not only important to be an attractive community, but we must also be an attraction.

To be an attraction for tourists and businesses or corporations looking to locate their company, certain amenities and conditions need to be in place. These range from quality of place factors to defined advantages for companies.

Here are some “Renaissance Projects” that I think will eventually become “Game Changers” for the City of Piqua. Piqua-Fast-Fiber. What started out to be just a fiber replacement program for the Piqua Power System morphed into a potential major business relocation attraction incentive and a significant benefit for corporations and businesses that need to move large amounts of data very quickly. Very few municipalities across the nation can offer high-speed (1Gig per second and higher) fiber connection advantage for existing businessesand to attract new companies to the community.

Piqua-Fast-Fiber is being leased to the Independents Fiber Network (IFN) to provide service to businesses, industries, higher education, schools, and non-profits throughout Piqua. Revenue received from leasing the fiber goes back into the city’s budget to support services for citizens. In addition, the City of Piqua is able to eliminate costs for internet connections, leasing of phone lines, and long distance phone calls.

Riverfront Development. The City of Piqua is uniquely placed on the Great Miami River which allows for both recreational and commercial development. If properly planned and developed, the Great Miami Riverfront could prove to be a tremendous tourism attraction for water recreation enthusiasts, specialty retail shops, quality residential developments, and crowd-drawing special events. Riverfront planning experts have indicated that Piqua is positioned uniquely on the river to provide potentially outstanding destination river development. A planning grant from the Ohio Development Services Agency enabled a Brownfield Action Plan to be completed for the 26-acre Riverfront District located just south of the city’s Central Business District. The grant also included an additional $50,000 for a more detailed plan which is currently underway.

I-75/East Ash Street Beautification. The beautification efforts over the past few years have provided proven benefits for businesses located close tothe interchange. There is no question that motorists on I-75 are more inclined to stop and shop or eat at attractive interchanges. The beautification improvements just completed on East Ash Street are intended to provide a positive impression of the community and an added incentive to explore the rest of the city.

Downtown Streetscape. The attractiveness of the downtown streets and pedestrian areas are also an invitation to walk and shop. We will continue the downtown streetscape improvements in the near future beginning at Greene Street and ending at the North Main Street Bridge. The attractiveness and pedestrian friendliness of the downtown area will no doubt lead to new restaurants and retail stores such as Mulligan’s Pub, Can’t Stop Running Company, and 311 Drafthouse. The paving of Main Street in 2014 will also add to the overall appearance and appeal of the downtown.

Historic East Piqua Redevelopment. Two grants totaling $396,000 from the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry allowed for the completion of the Historic East Piqua Redevelopment Area Planalong with some implementation funding. The Historic East Piqua study area is the gateway to the city which includes the oxbow of the Great Miami River. Experts from across the nation came to Piqua to provide recommendations on the most appropriate redevelopment of this area. The conclusion was that redevelopment should focus on a recreation oriented concept to attract people to Piqua.

Brownfield Assessments. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warded the City of Piqua two grants totaling $400,000 to conduct brownfield site assessments on approximately 20 sites throughout the city. The funding allows for both PhaseI and II environmental assessments to determine if contamination does exist on these important potential redevelopment sites. By conducting these assessments through the grant funding provided by the EPA, the risk is lessened for companies to pursue redevelopment of the properties. I look forward to these projects coming to fruition and seeing the positive results for our city.

Gary A. Huff, ICMA-CM is the City Manager of the City of Piqua.