ULI Cincinnati News

CEO Coffee Featured Cincinnati Leader Mario San Marco

Mario San Marco grew up in New York City.  His first job out of college, overseeing trusts, began his long history in banking and real estate.  When Mario came to Cincinnati 41 years ago, Eagle Reality had a small portfolio with a few properties.  With work such as Queen City Square, projects in the Lytle Park area and affordable housing in Over the Rhine, it has now grown to over $3 billion in assets

Mario said some of their work in Cincinnati doesn’t get the return on investment that they expect in other markets, but delivers long-term benefit to Cincinnati.  Eagle is able to do this through the support of Western & Southern.  “Western & Southern views everything through the lens of what’s best for the community, what makes Cincinnati a great place to live and work,” said Mario. This has also helped when the group has had to deal with controversy.  While they don’t like it and sometimes agonize about it, their decisions are based on the long-term interest of Cincinnati and the surrounding community.

In looking at the continued viability of downtown Cincinnati, Mario feels it’s important to bring more people into the downtown area on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in order to sustain downtown restaurants and continue to make the area safe.  A new 800 room convention hotel; a new, expanded convention center; and a new or an expanded, improved arena are a few of his suggestions.  He said we don’t know what we are missing without a new arena. In planning for the future of transportation in the area, he feels the focus has to be on the overall big picture.

When asked about area workforce attraction and retention, Mario feels there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.  He would like to see more companies being brought into town, especially another Fortune 500 or Fortune 1000 firm.  While that challenge is how does the city/area attract those companies, Mario feels the top challenge for the city is the poverty issue and how it impacts your children.

Looking back, Mario is proud of working with so many young people and the support of his staff in giving him the opportunity to do so much.  His most satisfying project was the Guilford School, where their work on an abandoned property improved the neighborhood.

His advice for young people in economic development is to network and meet as many people as you can.  He gave examples such as getting your name in front of organizations and getting involved in organizations such as ULI and UC’s Economic Roundtable.  “Don’t hesitate to approach them and ask for their time, ask for referrals” said Mario.



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