Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment

Opticare Vision/Express Mobile Transport

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Economic Development Annual Report 2014

The 2014 Merchants and Music Festival. FTM file. 
The Economic Director and Main Street Manager of Fort Thomas, Debbie Buckley, presented her annual report at the last city council meeting.

"When I am asked what makes our city so successful, I answer, 'volunteers.  Renaissance is made up of several committees of about 75 folks who give and give and give," said Buckley. "Sometimes it's a few hours and sometimes it's weeks, but they all mean a lot to the final product. We love our volunteers!"

Buckley started her presentation by mentioning to council that The Merchants and Music Festival has secured their biggest headliner to date. Bret Michaels, will be coming to the Fort on September 26. Other acts will include Brad Sparks, Josh McIntosh and Company, Britney’s Lipstick, Honey and Houston, Them Carls, What She Said, and Midnight Special. 

Main Street Reinvestment Statistics

Fort Thomas is one of 92 cities in the Commonwealth that is part of the National Main Street Program. Over the past several decades the Main Street Programs has emerged in the United States. These may be statewide or regional "coordinating programs" or "local programs." Programs determined to be "Designated" follow best-practices established by the National Main Street Center and/or statewide or regional coordinating programs.

The New Renaissance Board Chair is Brian Sand. "I've been involved with our group now for a little over a year and it's been a fantastic experience.  Fort Thomas is so lucky to have such a hard working, dedicated group of folks working to make our city a better place to work, live, and play," said Sand.

"Our group is comprised of small business owners, involved residents, and executives.  It's fantastic that we can get such a diverse group of people to volunteer their free time to make events in our town go off without a hitch.  A ton of time and hard work go into making these events possible and I'm sure it doesn't go unnoticed by the residents."

Total # of Jobs in District: 357
# of full-time jobs created: 13
# of part-time jobs created: 2
New businesses created: 7
Rehab projects completed: 3
Public improvement projects completed: 0

New construction projects completed: 1
$ public investment: $99,000
$ private investment: $0
# of downtown housing units including residential: 18
# of commercial spaces: 77
Average commercial rent per square foot: $10.00
Total square footage in commercial district: 369,488
Organization budget: $146,800
Volunteer hours contributed: 4,731
Amount invested in building rehabs: $427,000

There was 1 business that closed and 3 jobs lost. There were no facade projects and no businesses expanded. There were also no new housing units downtown and no business took advantage of historic rehab tax credits.

The total reinvestment for the city was $672,800.

New Businesses

There were a total of 16 new brick-and-mortar businesses that opened in Fort Thomas in 2014. Some of the new businesses include Monera Chic Boutique (654 Highland Avenue), 15 N. Wood-Burning Pizza (15 N. Fort Thomas Avenue, which should be opening to the public this spring), and Fort Thomas Antique & Design (90 Alexandria Pike - Highlander Event Center, Highlander Coffee House)

Merchants and Music Festival

From the report: "Is it possible to maintain the momentum (from last year)? Can we really find bands as good as last year's? Will (we - sic) find more than 100 vendors who want to be part of OUR event? Can we sell more beer? Can we raise more sponsorships? Will more people come? Can we stay safe?"

"In 2014 we were able to say yes to all those questions."

The 2014 headliner was Dustin Lynch with acts Frankie Ballard and Trick Pony also playing. Here was the 2014 M&M Guide published by FTM. 

"Our signature event, the Merchants and Music Festival is going to be even bigger and better than in years past.  Our headliner, Bret Michaels, will return us to rock music and I'm confident will bring us one of the largest crowds in the events history," said Sand.

The revenue taking in by the festival last year was $76,581.90 and the expenditures were $129,227.45 for a loss of $52,645.55 for the event.

Other Events 

The Renaissance Annual Report also highlighted several city events that the committee helped plan. The Holiday Walk, The USO Dance and Salute to Veterans, and Farmers' Market.

Midway There

The Stables Building
Fort Thomas sent a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers in January of 2014, declaring their interest in a property exchange for the Stables Building.

The Midway There Committee, whose stated purpose is "explore opportunities to redevelop in the Midway business district," toured the new Findlay Market industrial kitchen project and according to the report, ""were encouraged by more than 100 interested people who participated. There is a substantial need for our idea of (this kitchen - sic), retail space black box theater and yoga studio."


  1. How much money does this generate for our city?

  2. I suspect there is no form or metrics in place for that. Read between the lines there.