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Cincinnati lands Super Bowl of site selection conferences

Cincinnati Business Courier

Johnna Reeder, president and CEO of REDI Cincinnati, said the 2018 Site Selectors Guild conference is the "Super Bowl for economic development."

The Site Selectors Guild chose Cincinnati to host its 2018 annual conference, which will attract economic developers and site selection consultants from around the world.

JobsOhio, the private nonprofit corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio, and REDI Cincinnati, the region’s leading economic development initiative, will serve as the hosts for the event. The conference is scheduled to take place from March 18 to March 21 at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza. This will be the first time the conference is held in Ohio.

Johnna Reeder, president and CEO of REDI Cincinnati, said after several years of building on successful events from the World Choir Games in 2012 to last year’s All-Star Game to the NAACP Convention, this event is the next step for the region.

“Five years ago, we never would have been a contender for a conference of this magnitude,” Reeder told me. “This is the Super Bowl for economic development.”

To give an idea of how important this event is, the region had 10 site selection consultants visit during the 2015 MLB All-Star Game. This conference will bring between 50 and 60 site selection experts, Reeder said.

Phil Schneider, president of Schneider Consulting and chairman of Site Selectors Guild, said it is unprecedented to have that many site selection executives in one place at one time.

“This is the most important networking and knowledge-sharing conference of its type,” Schneider told me.

The annual conference offers site selection leaders the chance to share information about economic development and the state of business. Plus, another 300 to 350 economic development professionals will attend the event.

Site Selectors Guild is a professional association of the world’s top site selection consultants. All of its members have been nominated and approved by their industry peers.

Reeder said it was a highly competitive process. So competitive, Schneider said, that he can’t disclose the other cities Cincinnati beat or even the number of cities considered. Those runner-ups may be jockeying to host the conference in the future.

The conference was held in Nashville this year. It is scheduled to be held in Tucson, Ariz. in 2017.

Two factors helped put Cincinnati’s bid at the top of the list. One, Cincinnati took a regional approach. The second is that REDI Cincinnati created a partnership with JobsOhio.

Reeder said the guild never had a community bid with a state and local partnership.

Plus, business leaders, community leaders and elected officials stepped up to help Cincinnati win the conference in any way possible, Reeder said.

Schneider was impressed with everything ranging from the accessibility of the region to the hotel and convention space.

“They really hit it out of the park,” Schneider said.

Neither Reeder nor Schneider could put an exact economic impact on the conference, but both said this is a big win for Greater Cincinnati. Schneider said this is a chance to either give site selectors a refresher or an introduction to the region.

“It can’t hurt to have people get a good view,” Schneider said.

With all of the redevelopment taking place in the region, Reeder said two years from now, the city will shine.

“2018 will be a perfect time for us to be in the spotlight,” Reeder said.