Cincinnati 2021 – A Look Forward

 Cincinnati 2021 – A Look Forward

2020 has been the most challenging year for us generally speaking, in our lifetimes. COVID-19 has given us a once in 100 year plague, decimating lives and causing separation, mask-wearing and fear. It also saw the end of the Donald Trump presidency, even as that transition spills into 2021.

Cincinnati faced its own unique challenges, with plenty of COVID lockdowns, protests for Black Lives Matter after the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, and three Cincinnati council people indicted for taking bribes from developers. Ouch. With this backdrop let’s look at some trend lines for 2021.

With the recent release of two vaccines, with more on the way, it’s hoped that we can regain some normalcy again in our daily lives. We won’t be getting back to some ‘old normal’ though. Too much has changed. Too many small businesses have closed, too many Zoom meetings have altered the old ways of working. Too many lives lost that need time for us to heal our losses.

Our great hope is that by late spring we begin to revisit ‘the old ways’. Going back to restaurants, bars and coffee shops. Back to shopping in-store. Back to hanging out with family and friends without fear of spreading or contracting the virus.

That said, the COVID lockdown allowed us some time to review our lives and priorities moving forward. As we reopen, I’m hopeful we can share a renewed focus on building back our communities with a greater focus on health and the recognition that we are all in this together.

Cincinnati has faired better than much of the ‘rust belt’ in terms of its economy and population. Before the coronavirus outbreak we were seeing continued growth in Over-the-Rhine, Walnut Hills and other urban neighborhoods.

We are fortunate to have Fortune 500 giants like Kroger and P & G to draw dollars and young talent to the region. We are also fortunate to have a strong history in manufacturing, giving us a relatively sophisticated work force for future growth.

For 2021, the big questions are can our many mid-sized and small businesses get back to robust growth? And can the many small businesses decimated by the virus return to profitability? Because of our strong fundamentals we hope and expect this to be a banner year for small business.

Cincinnati has great lackings. Way too many homeless and hungry, too many beggars on corners, too many struggling. We must do better.

That said, there are a host of local resources we can leverage to make 2021 a banner year. From Green Umbrella and Cincy Coop to grants and support from neighborhood groups. In these days of COVID, some may not know about how to get available funds.

Let’s consider building a resource list here on CincyForward to further our connection and health in this new year.

The Reds made the playoffs in a truncated season and promptly lost, but they made it to the playoffs! (You listening Bengals?) After college basketball was unceremoniously ripped from us last February, we’re seeing something of a return to normalcy with college football and basketball.

UC football was especially inspiring, with a nine game unbeaten season. Sadly, last week they were defeated in the last few seconds by Georgia, costing us the Peach Bowl championship. Still, grateful for the memories.

The Bengals just wrapped up their 4-11-1 after messiah Joe Burrow had his knee taken out in game November 22nd against the Washington Football team. Hope springs eternal for next year, but long time fans know the fix is replacing the ownership. One player, however good, is not going to get it done.

And our college basketball teams should at least get in most of the season. Xavier’s had a couple of COVID issues, and Cincinnati has only managed a handful of games so far. Again, at least we’re seeing some return to normalcy in our sports world.

Well folks, last year was a doozy for our political scene. Three, count ’em. three council people indicted for taking bribes from developers. Tamaya Dennard, Jeff Pastor and PG Sittenfeld all hit. With PG’s former status as front runner for this year’s mayoral contest, suddenly all bets are off on who our next mayor will be or what our new council will look like.

Several local politicians are now eyeing a run at the mayor’s office, including former mayor David Mann, Council Vice President Chris Smitherman (though he previously said he wouldn’t run) and active or former council members Chris Seelbach, Cecil Thomas and Wendell Young, and lastly activist Kelly Prather. There are a host of folks who could still file as well. November 2 we sort all this out.

Cincinnati’s culture is diverse and getting more diverse. We have some history as an arts center, with rich contributions to music, from classical to the local folk scene, the visual arts with new works coming online around town with regularity, special events like BLINK and the Cincinnati Zoo’s annual Festival of Lights.

Our neighborhoods, with a couple of exceptions, still need a lot of love. Our ‘core’ being healthy and active is fabulous and to be appreciated, but we need all our neighborhoods to thrive.

We need all our neighborhoods to thrive. This should be a point of focus. New incentives for business opportunities, new efforts to support those most in need, and new industries where Cincinnati is well suited, such as leveraging the recently (2018) legal status for hemp production and processing.

We can expect a bit of a distracted council since this is an election year, but hopefully they still manage some positive legislation. Community gardens and urban farming got a boost this past year, and it’s hopeful that we will engage in even more local food production for 2021. As cities move forward, we can expect more and more to see localism take hold in our food production.

One last thing. The Atlantic and other news outlets have suggested we could face a wild time once the COVID loses its grasp, kindred to the roaring 20’s of 100 years ago. This ‘roar’ changed all sorts of social norms, from the emergence of women’s rights and just the desire to ‘party all the time’. One thing is for sure. We will surely see.

So, dear reader, I wish you the very best in 2021, and highly encourage you to use your intent to choose Love over fear. Fear never gets us anyplace fun. Gratitude feels way better than bitterness. Such World 5.0 teaches, Here in the Life we all share together.

much love,

Jim Prues