In the Heart of Cincinnati

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DCI: Two Decades of Impact and Change


DCI president and CEO David Ginsburg 


Since its founding 20 years ago, Downtown Cincinnati Incorporated (DCI) has played a leading role in the revitalization of downtown. The work of DCI, along with the endeavors of civic and business partners during the past two decades has created a solid foundation for continued success.

In 1994, downtown leaders recognized the importance of developing a vibrant urban core where workers, visitors, and residents could enjoy a great place to live, work, shop, eat and play. DCI was established as a non-profit organization with a mission to build downtown Cincinnati into a clean, safe and welcoming metropolitan center.

To fund the efforts of DCI, the Downtown Cincinnati Improvement District was developed in 1997. The Improvement District is a designated zone where property owners determine the kind and level of enhanced services they need. These services, provided by DCI, are funded by a special assessment, with support and participation from both the City of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

In the early years, DCI concentrated its efforts on marketing and retail recruitment. After the events of 2001 including the local civil unrest, DCI’s board and the City’s leadership decided the time was right to reevaluate its mission.

By benchmarking successful cities to determine best practices, DCI shifted its focus to four key areas: safe and clean services; marketing and communications; stakeholder services; and leadership and advocacy. The DCI Ambassador Program, which administers the enhanced clean and safe initiatives, is a team of 30 men and women that work to keep downtown clean, act as partners with the police to enhance safety, and provide a friendly face for visitors to downtown.

Charlotte Otto, DCI board chair from 2002 to 2006, says once the organization made headway on creating a clean and safe downtown, members could get down to business.

“This was the point where DCI focused on what they do best and what is most needed,” says Otto. “They were clear on where they needed to add the most value, and everyone was absolutely passionate about making downtown Cincinnati the best place on the planet. Now it is alive in a way it hardly dreamed of being 20 years ago.”

DCI works with partners to ensure that downtown is diverse, welcoming, and inclusive. “DCI is working to at- tract a wide array of restaurants and businesses that will allow minorities to feel more welcome, participate in the downtown economy and provide a richer experience for the downtown visitor,” says Sean Rugless, president and CEO of the African American Chamber. “They also implement perceptions surveys that reach a broad audience so their programs can meet the needs of everyone.”

Through the years, DCI has worked with Cincinnati’s mayors and city managers, along with county, business, and community leaders to work together to make “downtown the best place on the planet” in the 21st century.


For more information, call 513.421.4440 or visit

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In the Heart of Cincinnati

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