By Morgan Miles, Staff Writer
Hamilton County Board of Commissioners President Alicia Reece gave a State of the County Address last Wednesday at Memorial Hall.
Reece was sworn in as president earlier this month after 20 years of public service, including working as president of the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus. Kickstarting the new year, Reece began the address with an emphasis on the motto “One Hamilton County.”
Producing and distributing resources to Hamilton County is a necessity to Reece, who emphasized her focus on providing funding for citizens to freely and easily access these resources.
The 513 Relief Bus, an equity and resources mobile technology bus re-launched Thursday after the address. The 513 Relief Bus began as Reece’s response to a need for economic and task relief during COVID-19. Now, the bus, in partnership with UC Health and the County Board of Health, is back in business with new features such as cancer screening, blood pressure checks, dental care and more.
Reece also highlighted her concern for affordable housing and aging infrastructure. She advocated that $40 million of federal funding to be to aid people struggling with housing issues. Those who need affordable housing, seniors who need aid and housing for disabled citizens were Reece’s main targets with the multi-faceted funding. She plans to achieve this in part through a mortgage assistance program.
Road repairs, train tracks and old buildings were also a focus. Reece acknowledged smaller municipalities and their struggles with repairs and upgrades that are long overdue. She assured listeners that whether a village or a township, small city or big city, the administration would ensure that none would be left behind in economic development.
Reece also announced an $11 million grant that will fund Cincinnati’s current and new small businesses.
Alongside the announcement of the $11 million grant, Reece introduced the first cabinet office of small businesses in Hamilton County’s history. To help small businesses run smoothly under new leadership, Reece plans to have a quarterly meeting with the Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and all Chambers of Commerce throughout Hamilton County. She also noted that rotary clubs and professional industry organizations will work together to make sure the small business office is hitting the mark.
Regarding the safety of Hamilton County, she spoke on the opioid crisis. One Ohio, a new non-profit, is distributing $32 million in settlement money from a lawsuit that will go toward prevention and lowering the addiction rates. The non-profit will be led by people with lived opioid addiction experiences, small business owners and medical experts, alongside the board of commissioners and others passionate about assisting citizens in drug treatment and recovery.
Hamilton County’s largest equity and inclusion project on the Ohio River today, according to Reece, will be the Black Music Walk of Fame. Situated in between a stadium and a music center, the corridor celebrating Black artists, musicians and songwriters, will feature interactive outdoor technology, family-friendly dance parties, augmented reality, pulse drums that illuminate to the beat and more. Every year, new inductees will be invited to this tourist location, which Reece noted will earn money for Hamilton County and provide free media exposure.
Additionally, Reece expressed that she was working hard to deliver the construction of an 800-room convention hotel that she hopes would increase Cincinnati tourism.
“We’re ready to take action,” Reece said. “Our goal is to be the number one county in America. To live, work and visit well. We can only do this by working together.