Thoughts from Katherine Durack about this morning's Port Authority Board Meeting

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“You have to overpay to do something good.” – Mario San Marco, President of Western & Southern’s Eagle Realty, during this morning’s meeting of the Port Authority.

I thought this was a very interesting comment coming from a business professional charged with expending taxpayer dollars for development intended ultimately for public benefit.  Can you imagine the response if Mr. San Marco had made this same statement to John Barrett in discussions, for example, of the purchase of some church-owned land in Northern Kentucky?

But in that case, the Business Courier reported that W&S / Eagle Realty purchased Marydale (valued at +$15.6  million) from the Catholic Diocese of Covington for a mere $3.9 million. I’ll guess nearly $4 million will help the diocese out a great deal…and I hope that Mr. San Marco uses his fine business acumen and public spirit in any deals he promotes or approves as a new member of the Port Authority.

In all fairness, I really don’t know exactly what Mr. San Marco meant by his comment, and the comment was made as part of a discussion about a $5 million markdown on a couple of properties that had been acquired and then improved through activities such as demolition. The goal of those activities was to “revitalize sites that were unable to attract the private sector in order to make them job-ready.”

I will be waiting with bated breath to see how many new jobs Port Authority investments in Techsolve II and Midpointe yield – I’d love to see better-than-minimum-wage jobs with benefits plus truly new employment opportunities for residents (a win-win) rather than just a shift of jobs and existing employees from some other area (win-lose). Would it be reasonable to expect an ROI of at least the value of the markdown?

And speaking of “ROI” — there was lots of jargon flying around at the meeting, my two favorite terms being “return on investment” and “return of investment.” Not really sure how changing that 1 letter really changes meaning, but I’m guessing it has to do with whether an outcome is profitable or break even. No doubt about it, I’ll not simply accept the acronym without first checking a glossary to see if we’re talking “of” or “on.”

I’m also going to be paying attention to how the Port Authority looks at transportation (crucial for access to those jobs that are the payoff it seems the public should expect). From these first observations, it seems they may be pretty car-centric in their thinking. I’d like to see that expanded to roads, rail, and river (they are, after all a PORT Authority).

Thanks, Kathy Holwadel, for letting us know when and where the Port Authority meets, and for encouraging members of the public to come and listen. It’s going to be an interesting time, and I’m hopeful that with public interest and support, they’ll do some amazing things for the region.

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