Bellevue Taps Lead Fundraiser to Bring Red Bike to Town
Bellevue has appropriately turned to the head of Mackey Advisors, the Fairfield Avenue-based financial management firm, to lead its fundraising efforts to land Red Bike stations in the city.
Red Bike is the bike-sharing non-profit that is spreading throughout Cincinnati and will soon creep into Northern Kentucky. Stations, where bikes are racked and picked up for rented use, cost about $50,000 each. Earlier this week, Newport announced that it had enough funds for two and nearly three, but officials there wanted to work toward raising the money to place four stations in the city.
On Wednesday, Mackey McNeill, head of the firm who volunteered to lead the fundraising effort in the city, told the Bellevue City Council that there was just over $23,000 for the Red Bike efforts. Southbank Partners committed $20,000 each to Bellevue, Newport, and Covington for the effort to bring stations to town and each city is anxious to do so before Major League Baseball's All-Star game arrives in the Queen City in July.
Bringing visitors from Ohio to the Kentucky side of the river is one of many opportunities offered by the bike-sharing program. "We love our mostly Ohio clients to come over and enjoy Kentucky," McNeill said. With events like the All-Star game bringing thousands of visitors to Cincinnati, the opportunity for the Northern Kentucky River Cities to capitalize on that could benefit from having the accessibility of the bikes.
McNeill made the case, based on a recently conducted study by the Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce, that the region is lacking in three areas desired by young professionals: diversity, sustainability, and transit. She said that Red Bike addresses the issues of sustainability and transit. "As an employer, I'm very concerned about the workforce of the future and that's why I support Red Bike," McNeill said. Red Bike is also different, she said, in that each side of the river typically has its own system in which services are offered or provided but with Red Bike, it will be one system shared across both states. "This system is set up to be inclusive on both sides of the river and I think that's significant and I think it's important that Bellevue be there because if we're not, Covington and Newport are making a statement of where they're going to be in the future and we're not."
Bellevue is aggressively preparing for the All-Star game, having already adopted policies that will allow for short-term rental leases through sites like airbnb.com and for the arrival of food trucks into the city. Red Bike would be another tool for visitors and one that the city will consider providing $20,000 for. The city is currently constructing its budget for the next fiscal year that begins on July 1, but City Administrator Keith Spoelker said that if funds are there currently and if council approves the expenditure, a budget adjustment could be made from this year's budget allowing at least one station to be placed in the city.
Red Bike has targeted two locations in Bellevue: at the Port of Bellevue and at the corner of Ward and Fairfield Avenues.
Mayor Ed Riehl said that he would be supportive of the city's expenditure for the Red Bike effort, "if we can find it". "Hopefully we have enough energy in the fundraising effort so that we don't have to," he said.
McNeill said that she typically declines offers to raise funds. "So, if I'm here to raise money for Red Bike, that's pretty unusual," she said. Businesses in the city have offered up some modest donations to help fund the stations to help Bellevue get to the halfway point of landing its first station. McNeill outlined a tiered donation level where donors who offer up $100 will receive a Red Bike supporter sticker for their window, $2,500 lands a donor at VIP level, and $10,000 could put a donor's name on the station.
Bellevue Red Bike enthusiasts will also launch a crowdsourcing effort online, McNeill said. You can also expect to see volunteers on First Friday on Fairfield Avenue with red buckets collecting cash for the stations.