He's Covington's New Hire to Lead Business & Economic Development
When the City of Covington's previous business development manager departed City Hall to take a job at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, more than ninety applications were sent to Pike Street by people wanting the job.
The job title is being changed to economic development manager and out of those dozens of applicants, Geoffrey Milz was selected by staff and approved by the city commission on Tuesday.
"I love cities, plain and simple, and I love being in the eye of the storm and this place is positioned to absolutely blow up in the next five years," Milz told The River City News shortly before the commission voted on his hiring. "There is scaffolding on every street, dumpsters in front of buildings, Gateway (Community & Technical College), and it's just incredible what is about to happen here."
Milz joins the City of Covington from Colerain Township, a suburb northwest of Cincinnati, where he served as director of building, planning, and zoning. Can city planners make for good economic development directors? Milz believes so.
"Colerain is kind of a small shop and everything that we did, from fire department to police department and planning department was in service of economic development," Milz said. "Our job as planners is to make communities more vibrant, neighborhoods stronger, and I really see this role as sort of the focus of economic activities."
Assistant City Manager Larisa Sims agreed. "We were looking for someone who could sort of do it all," Sims said. "So, there's the business recruitment and the real estate portion of it and he really stood out in both areas. There is a lot of small business outreach that we need to follow up on."
One of the first tasks will be to bring Milz up to speed on the budget process and to explore where the City will go with its economic development program, the money that is infused in downtown projects. Sims said that the program, which will have $200,000 in the next budget, may change from being an open-ended program to a competitive one.
Milz also spent time working in central New York and holds a master's degree in community planning from the University of Cincinnati.
"There are a lot of opportunities," Milz said, specifically mentioning the vacant storefronts. "I think as the streets get activated with more people walking down there, there are a lot of opportunities to get start-ups there, there is such an entrepreneurial spirit here. New businesses are popping up like daffodils here. Continuing that trend and trajectory is really important."
Prior to arriving at Colerain Township, Milz was in New York for five years and the narrative from the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky region had changed significantly while he was away, he said.
"The catalyst for that change in narrative was several successful big projects that started the ball rolling, so now when you're walking down the street you feel the vibrancy," Milz said. "The way to change the narrative is to get these big projects online and get people walking down the streets and get that quirky sense of vibrancy that Covington is so good at."
Written by Michael Monks, editor & publisher
Photo: Geoffrey Milz (via Colerain Township)