An Interview with Neil Hensley, City of Blue Ash Economic Development Director
Photography provided by the City of Blue Ash
Neil Hensley has served as the director of economic development for the City of Blue Ash since 2012. He is responsible for the business attraction, retention and expansion efforts. Prior to taking this job, Hensley worked for the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber for 30 years where he was responsible for international business development activities. During that time, he worked with hundreds of companies from around the world and helped attract thousands of new jobs and more than a billion dollars of capital investment for the region. LEAD sat down with Hensley to learn more about his vision for continued growth of Blue Ash.
LEAD: What can you share about what is currently happening in Blue Ash to attract new jobs, businesses and capital investment?
Neil Hensley: The city continues to upgrade its infrastructure and increase the number of amenities that will benefit residents and businesses. We are currently improving our connectivity by extending Malsbary Road, creating a Reed Hartman-Kenwood Road connector in the southern part of the city. We have invested several million dollars over the past seven years to ensure each residential neighborhood is connected via sidewalk to the city’s major amenities. We are also investing tens of millions of dollars to make Summit Park one of the premier destinations in the region.
LEAD: Which positive aspects of Blue Ash are most frequently cited by residents?
Neil Hensley: They frequently cite the quality of life amenities in the community, including the highly-rated Sycamore Community School system, the Rec Center, the Blue Ash golf course, Summit Park, and the many festivals, concerts and recreational activities. Over the past decade, the City of Blue Ash has invested tens of millions of dollars in new state-of-the-art public facilities for the community and its residents. Those include the expanded Rec Center, the Cooper Creek Event Center, and the crown jewel of the city, Summit Park.
LEAD: What future projects or developments are you particularly excited about?
Neil Hensley: The city is working with Al. Neyer, Vandercar Holdings, and M/I Homes to develop the remaining 100 acres of the former airport site. The Neighborhoods at Summit Park is a transformative, mixed-use project, which will bring new office space, hotels, single-family, multi-family and senior residential options, and retail amenities, all co-mingled in one project. This major development is a game changer for Blue Ash and will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in new investment, as well as thousands of jobs and hundreds of new residents.
LEAD: How is Blue Ash uniquely suited to serve as the largest suburban employment center in Greater Cincinnati?
Neil Hensley: It is no coincidence that Blue Ash is the largest suburban employment center in Greater Cincinnati, with nearly 40,000 jobs. The city is centrally located within Greater Cincinnati with outstanding access via I-71, I-275 and Ronald Reagan Highway, all of which border Blue Ash. This makes it easy to draw employees from across the region as well as providing access to customers and suppliers. Blue Ash leaders understand the importance of a strong business base and are committed to providing the top-notch services, from fire to police and snow removal to amenities like parks, festivals, and recreational activities, which are important to companies and their employees.