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Dunn resigns transit board chair to focus on tourism

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By Dan Yount

The Cincinnati Herald

Jason Dunn. Provided

Jason Dunn, chair of the Board of the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority, said he is resigning from the position at the January 16 Board meeting to focus on his work as vice president of Multicultural Sales and Community Development for the Cincinnati USA Visitors & Convention Bureau following the recent resignation of longtime CVB President and CEO Dan Lincoln.

Dunn has served on the SORTA Board for six years, and as Board chair for four years.

In regard to whether Dunn is a candidate for the top job at CVB, he said his sole focus now is continuing Lincoln’s legend of making Cincinnati a top multicultural destination.

Mayor Cranley has expressed to Dunn he is appreciative of the good and valuable work that the SORTA Board has done in recent years, and his appreciation for Dunn’s leadership as its chair.

Dunn said, “I have truly valued my tenure as a Board member of SORTA. I am proud to have served with each of my colleagues. It was the diversity of thought that made us productive, despite the perceptions that City and County appointees couldn’t work together. We proved those perceptions to be false. I am proud of how our Board has professionally, strategically, thoughtfully, compassionately and honestly confronted the complex issues facing our public transportation system and the people who depend on it each and every day to fulfill their dreams.’’

However, Dunn added, “As many are aware, tourism is one of this region’s leading employers and a catalyst for Cincinnati USA’s recognition as an established multicultural destination of choice. Of course, much of the workforce supporting this industry is dependent on public transit. As the vice president of Multicultural Sales and Community Development for CVB, my service on the SORTA Board has fueled my passion to improve the quality of life for those who depend on transit.’’

Lincoln championed Cincinnati as a multicultural destination, and this must continue, Dunn said. This is the reason his passion and energy needs to be fully focused on the CVB and in its work to grow our regional economy through travel and tourism, he said. “It is important to me that the legacy of Lincoln be carried and built upon, by ensuring that Cincinnati is the multicultural destination of choice.

Dunn outlined some accomplishments at SORTA during his tenure there, including:

  • forming the Metro Futures Task Force and receiving their detailed report confirming that METRO was no longer financially sustainable and, among other recommendations, that the organization should seek to change its source of public funding from the City of Cincinnati earnings tax to a Hamilton county sales tax.
  • making Board meetings more transparent.
  • listening to riders through onboard and online surveys and meeting with countless organizations in their communities.
  • launching the John C. Blanton Internship Program and offering domestic partner benefits positioning SORTA as an inclusive work place.
  • Adopting its first comprehensive strategic plan in decades.

         In recent years, Metro has become the most efficient bus-only transit system among peer cities according to a study by the Economics Center at the University of Cincinnati. It also receives less public funding than nearly all those same cities.

Also, SORTA received the State Auditor’s Award and its 26th consecutive Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association (2017).

“Our Reinventing Metro Plan has brought our community to this moment. There are crucial decisions to be made. For our region to remain competitive in a global economy, our public transportation system must change. It must be reinvented,’’ Dunn said.

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