An Open Letter to Cincinnati City Council

An Open Letter to Cincinnati City Council

Disclaimer: I don't live or work in the city of Cincinnati. I pay no city taxes. I am heavily invested in this region, though.

I'm disappointed in you, Cincinnati. I live in Northern Kentucky, but I tell everyone I'm from Cincinnati. I always have and always will.

I've been sitting idly by, watching the live stream from Plum Street feeling like there isn't anything I can do.

That's not true, though. I can write this post, share it with friends, family and my network. I can voice an opinion and encourage others to as well.

Who Am I?

I'm a co-founder of one of the largest tech meetups in the area, co-founder of a conference and organization to support the local tech community, and Managing Partner of Gaslight, a software development company currently located in Blue Ash.

I'm active in the tech community, enthusiastic and a Cincinnati supporter. I grew up in this area. I love this area. It's home.


QCMerge, like anything else, began as an idea. I was excited about the progress in Downtown Cincinnati and Over the Rhine. I heard many colleagues and friends voicing opinions that were outdated. I wanted a reason to draw people from the suburbs to downtown to see everything that was happening.

I wanted to bring speakers from other cities to Cincinnati, too. I wanted them to see all that we had to offer and to Tweet pictures to their hundreds of thousands of followers.

It worked. One of my own business partners was excited about our city again. He hadn't been downtown in years, and as he walked back to his car from the Reds game, he saw a vibrant, active city.

Two years running, we've brought national tech leaders to Cincinnati to see the progress. We've brought hundreds of local residents Downtown to the Contemporary Arts Center. We've taken the whole group to see the Reds play and show off the progress at The Banks.

Gaslight and Over the Rhine

Gaslight is a software development company. We're currently at seventeen employees. That's double from just over a year ago. This year, we did almost $2MM in revenue and we're planning to do more next year.

We've been planning a move to Over the Rhine for almost a year. Now, we're not sure it's the right place to be.

We were excited by the idea of walking out the door, hopping on the streetcar and catching a Reds game. Or getting some lunch at Findlay Market. Or beers after work at one of the great new spots.

Little Steps

The streetcar wasn't the final solution. It was only the very beginning. Stopping the project at this stage removes any hope I have for the Cincinnati region to reach it's true potential.

The light rail tracks being laid were the smallest possible amount of work that could happen. They were the Minimum Viable Product.

I'm sick of driving cars. I'm sick of highways. I'm sick of buying gas. I'm sick of sitting in traffic, alone. I'm ready for public transportation.

Once that loop is complete, we can start adding runs to other neighborhoods. To the airport. To the suburbs.

We can have public transportation.

In Summary

I want to thank PG Sittenfeld, Chris Seelbach, Yvette Simpson and Wendell Young for their vision and support.

I want to thank Mark Mallory for his vision and leadership. This city is 180º from what it was just ten short years ago.

I want to encourage John Cranley, David Mann, Chris Smitherman, Kevin Flynn, Amy Murray and Charlie Winburn to reconsider their positions on the streetcar. Please move this project, city and region forward.

I heard Mayor Cranley say a few times not to lose hope or enthusiasm, that progress will continue. That's not enough. Show me what to be enthusiastic about. Give me a reason to stay excited.

I don't want to sit and wait. I want to help.

Let's help create the city and region we all want.


Photo: Travis Estell