McNair tapped as new development director

Tom McNair has served leadership positions at Ohio City Inc. since 2010. At the end of September, his workplace will move across the Cuyahoga River to downtown, seen behind the West Side Market in the background (NAIOP). CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE THEM.

Served as Ohio City Inc. director for nine years

For the past 14 years, Tom McNair rode the Rapid from Shaker Square to Ohio City where he led its community development corporation in different roles. At the end of September, his train will have a new destination — Cleveland City Hall. Mayor Justin Bibb announced yesterday that McNair will be the city’s new director of economic development.

McNair will assume the role from Interim Director Terri Hamilton-Brown, who has been leading the city’s economic development team since June 20. His first day will be September 25. Hamilton-Brown took over for Tessa Jackson who was fired from the job June 15 after a turbulent first year in which Jackson reportedly had differences of opinion regarding the awarding of city incentives to development projects. Jackson said she was told by her superiors to do some improper actions, such as bypassing the Board of Control and even City Council to help get properties sold for major development projects.

In his new role, McNair will carry forward the implementation of initiatives already underway such as the $100 million land-assembly program for major projects, called the Site Readiness for Good Jobs Fund. He will also lead the revitalization of the city’s southeast side, minority contractor business assistance and other projects. Most will be be focused on supporting the city’s efforts to revamp economic development incentives, helping small businesses grow, increasing traded sector jobs and leading efforts around equitable neighborhood development.

“I am pleased to welcome Tom to the team,” said Mayor Justin Bibb in a written statement. “His smart growth mindset and focus on people-oriented development make him an ideal fit for this role moving forward. We are also deeply grateful to Terri Hamilton-Brown for stepping into the interim director role and for her hard work and dedication over the past two months.”

Next stop for Tom McNair will be Cleveland City Hall, starting Sept. 25 (Google).

For the past nine years, McNair served as the executive director of Ohio City Inc. (OCI), a community development corporation serving Cleveland’s historic Ohio City neighborhood. In this role, McNair led a staff of eleven guiding the planning, promotion, and development in Ohio City, a diverse community of over 10,000 residents and over 250 local businesses. In the prior four years, McNair was OCI’s director of economic development and planning.

McNair has led several planning processes that have been adopted by the Cleveland City Planning Commission including one for the City of Cleveland’s first protected bikeway, and one to that would create the 23-acre Irishtown Bend Park — the first waterfront park in America directly connected to public housing while equitably tying together an emerging regional trail network. A groundbreaking ceremony for Irishtown Bend Park is scheduled for next week.

“It has been a privilege to spend the last 13 years working in one of the country’s best neighborhoods,” McNair said. “I am proud of everything that we have accomplished together and grateful to the organization and board of trustees for the opportunity to be a part of some of the most meaningful work on could ever be a part of. This neighborhood is special because of the residents and I am thankful for their support.”

Additional programs spearheaded by McNair include the formation of one of the largest youth sports leagues in the region in Near West Recreation, and improved collaboration with OCI partner institutions around the neighborhood including the creating of Near West Partners. They also created a growing neighborhood land trust called Near West Land Trust to preserve and build affordable housing, and established and extended the Ohio City Special Improvement District to create a welcoming and clean commercial corridor.

McNair is working with OCI’s Board of Trustees to plan the transition to his successor and updates will be shared as they are available before his departure from OCI in mid-September. His successor may oversee a potential merger between OCI and Tremont West Development Corp. McNair is a native of Chagrin Falls and holds a bachelor’s degree in interior architecture and design from Ohio University. He and his family are longtime residents of the Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood.


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