Vice Mayor: Interchange project should benefit communities
One Cincinnati council member wants the new Interstate 71 interchange project to directly benefit those who live nearby.
Avondale, Corryville, and Walnut Hills are three communities struggling with high unemployment rates, but they're also about to be the center of a nearly $100 million project.
"If you look around the city and drive around Avondale or Walnut Hills, it's a lot of abandoned buildings and so just bringing life back into the community is the biggest key," said Michael Payne of Walnut Hills.
The I-71 MLK project not only improves access from the highway to the Uptown area, but it also adds more retail and living options. Studies show this development could create as many as 10,000 jobs.
"You're talking about two opportunities. One are the construction jobs and related activity. The other is new development, new buildings, new businesses, the growth of existing businesses," said Vice Mayor David Mann.
Mann wants to create a task force that helps the resident of these communities because their unemployment rate is approaching 40 percent.
"Over the last few decades, they've been way too high," said Kevin Wright with the Walnut Hills Redevelopment Foundation.
Michael Payne is hoping a task force provides more opportunities for the ones who will be most affected by this project.
"We hear about jobs often and we really never know when they're available or where you can even go to get them or find them at," said Payne.
Walnut Hills Redevelopment Director Kevin Wright says one of the top concerns residents in the area have is jobs.
"I would expect this task force to be realistic about this idea. We can't just take people off the streets and give them jobs. We have to get them the right training so they're qualified for these jobs," said Wright.
This task force could start meeting in the next couple months, making up a mix of people including employers, community leaders, and residents.
They'll have plenty of time to meet because this interchange project isn't expected to be completed until late 2016 or early 2017.