REDI Cincinnati: Growing Businesses by Increasing Diversity

REDI Cincinnati: Growing Businesses by Increasing Diversity

When REDI Cincinnati was creating its strategic five-year plan for future economic development and growth, the team knew it would mean pulling from every corner of the tri-state area.

“We felt passionate that diversity, equity and inclusion needed to be infused throughout all the work we did because, without a vibrant, growing community that was diverse and representative of the types of opportunities in the Cincinnati region, we weren’t going to be successful,” says Kimm Lauterbach, president and CEO of REDI Cincinnati, the Regional Economic Development Initiative.

REDI’s sole focus is to drive new jobs and capital investment to its three-state, 16-county region. Lauterbach and her team are the first points of contact for a business, whether that business is new to the area or has been around and is thinking about expanding.

REDI Cincinnati becomes a trusted advisor that connects businesses to the right resources so that, ultimately, those organizations have the tools they need to grow. The REDI Cincinnati team has identified more than 90 different entities that play some role in the economic development ecosystem.

“It can be a full-time job if you’re a business just trying to navigate help for yourself,” says Lauterbach, who took over as CEO for REDI Cincinnati five years ago. The REDI team interviewed more than 875 individuals and groups from all three states and 16 counties to discuss the future of economic development and business growth.

REDI Cincinnati identifies how they can leverage existing partnerships and the work already being done across different organizations to improve diversity, equity and inclusion in the city.

“We looked for opportunities to work with the Minority Business Accelerator to supplement and complement the work they’re doing at creating those intentional relationships between goal setters and big companies here, as well as with portfolio companies and minority-owned businesses,” says Cierra Clymer, Director of

Business Development and Inclusion for REDI Cincinnati. “REDI serves to outsource and identify companies that may be looking to expand.”

REDI has leveraged tools through JobsOhio to support companies with underrepresented ownership, most notably, the JobsOhio Inclusion Grant for southwest Ohio businesses.

“Since that launch, we’ve been able to support 50 companies in the Cincinnati region, which has led to 376 new jobs and nearly $20 million in new payroll,” says Clymer.

Outside of traditional business development and project management, REDI Cincinnati has worked with the Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation to launch the employer toolkit, which provides resources to companies that want to retain and attract women and individuals who may be under-resourced. In addition, REDI Cincinnati worked with the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Center for Data and Research to compile data to launch a regional scorecard that can measure the progress it’s seeing across the region.

Clymer directs REDI’s international business development strategy and inclusion efforts.

“It’s often these companies’ first time investing in a second facility or expanding their business to this level,” she says. “Being able to serve as that resource allows them to create strong relationships and connections in the community.”

Clymer recently had the opportunity to present at an international conference for economic and community development practitioners.

“It was validating to see how far we’ve come as a region and how much we’ve been able to accomplish in a short period,” says Clymer.

As it looks to the future, REDI is building specific goals to measure success best. To gauge progress, core objectives will be tracked to determine if the number of companies with underrepresented ownership is increasing in the region. REDI will also seek to establish relationships with other local partners.

“We’re very metric-driven,” says Lauterbach. “That’s why we ask, ‘How many new jobs are we looking to bring to the region? What kind of capital investment? How are we growing our regional reputation on a global scale in partnership with Cincinnati Experience? How are we attracting new talent to the region, so we have this vibrant community?’ We have short-term tactics that will help meet those long-term goals.”

With a focus on ensuring all of Cincinnati is growing and economically thriving, REDI Cincinnati is making an impact that will be felt for years to come.

Do you need help growing your company or reaching diverse hires? Reach out to REDI Cincinnati at 3 East Fourth St., Suite 301, Cincinnati, Ohio 45202. Call 513-562-8474 or visit for more information.

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