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Commission President Wants To Make Hamilton County Great Again

Bill Rinehart

The Hamilton County commission president touched on some familiar goals during his annual State of the County speech Thursday.

Todd Portune was sworn in as board president less than 90 days ago. Much of what he told the Cincinnati noon Rotary Club, he's said before.

“We began at historic Memorial Hall in terms of organizing the county and set forth a very progressive agenda.”

That agenda included fighting the opioid epidemic, improving transportation options, and increasing economic development and opportunity.

Portune says much has changed in Hamilton County in the last 88 days since Democrats became the majority party on the commission. He says while Hamilton County was in good shape before now, it's on a path with direction.

“We have a vision that we have articulated and that we are supporting that is going to guarantee that not only are we a good county but that we are on the path to reemerging as a great county.”

Portune says that means full employment, equal opportunity for everyone, and a business climate that draws companies.

He says the state of the county is good, but there are challenges. Portune says while the budget is balanced and there's strong economic development, statistics don't tell the full story.

“In our economy, we frankly have lost jobs at a higher rate than Franklin and Cuyahoga counties. There are 14,000 families in Hamilton County that live in poverty. Our childhood poverty rates are staggering and they are unconscionable. The rates of home ownership are generally lower in Cincinnati and Hamilton County than elsewhere.”

Portune says the number of people who are eligible to work but aren't is also too high. He says the new commission has been crafting policy and budgeting to put Hamilton County on a path to improvement.

He's also pledging to get the ball rolling on expanding the Duke Energy and Sharonville convention centers.

“They are both great business generators. They are both great revenue generators. And those investments are critically important for us and for our future economy.”

Portune says he wants to identify a funding source before the end of the year.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.