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Total Eclipse in the Park Draws Thousands to Downtown Hilliard

Posted: April 9, 2024
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Hilliard Named Top 7 Intelligent Community for Second Year

June 24, 2024

The City of Hilliard has been named one of the world’s top seven intelligent communities in the world for the second year in a row.

Hilliard was one of seven communities – and one of only two in the United States – to receive this honor for 2024 from the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). The program recognizes communities that demonstrate best practices in broadband connectivity, workforce development, digital inclusion, innovation, community engagement, and sustainability.

“The Top7 always include cities and regions that are new to the Awards program and ones that have been honored in the past,” said ICF co-founder John Jung. “The Intelligent Community journey is not completed in a day or a year but builds from strategies and small triumphs to much greater accomplishment by people and organizations across the community. Intelligent Communities balance continuity and innovation, digital connectivity and the person-to-person kind, the economy of today and the emerging economy of tomorrow. We are proud to honor all the Top7 for what they have accomplished and will achieve in the future.”

Hilliard received this same recognition in 2023. Other cities earning this designation for 2024 were Assaí, Brazil; Coral Gables, Florida; Curitiba, Brazil; Durham Region in Ontario, Canada; Fredericton in New Brunswick, Canada; and Yunlin County, Taiwan. One of these seven finalists will be named the Intelligent Community of the Year at the ICF Summit in November in Barcelona, Spain.

According to ICF, Hilliard rose to the top of candidates because “in just a few years, its municipal dark-fiber network has attracted many service providers, while connecting companies, schools and city buildings, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars. Its partnership with Amazon Web Services brings technology and business education into schools, while the city and its partners have launched more than a dozen apprenticeship programs in technology, healthcare and IT.”

ICF also highlighted the exciting progress being made locally through the Hilliard City Lab initiative.

“The Hilliard City Lab is guiding high-tech companies to prototype new technologies, including an automated drone network to support first responders, which NASA, the US Air Force and other government agencies expect to become a national template,” an ICF statement says. “In May, the City opened an A.I. Sandbox, allowing Hilliard businesses to test artificial intelligence concepts and products without exhausting their budgets.”

City Manager Michelle Crandall said the recognition shows the international tech community sees significant value in Hilliard’s continued efforts to work with local partners and the business community to develop a skilled workforce, promote economic development, and lay a foundation for long-term prosperity, social transformation, and sustainability for our community.

“The award recognizes that we are employing best practices that will attract and train a workforce that prepares Hilliard for future economic growth,” Crandall added. “We are building and using the kind of broadband infrastructure and digital tools that make us attractive to high-tech companies. And we are providing amenities that promote a high quality of life for current and future residents who will call our community home.”

Hilliard is “On The Move”: 2024 State of the City Event Held in Downtown Hilliard

March 28, 2024

The State of the City is strong and Hilliard is “On The Move”!

City Manager Michelle Crandall delivered our annual State of the City presentation in front of a packed house Wednesday evening at Crooked Can Brewing Company in Downtown Hilliard. Crandall described all the ways our community is “On The Move” into a promising and sustainable future.

Here are three big takeaways from the presentation:

  • The Hilliard business community continues to demonstrate innovation, progress, and significant economic growth.
  • Major public and private projects are in the works that will enhance our residents’ already great quality of life.
  • Hilliard is being recognized more and more frequently as a leading player in Central Ohio, the state, this nation, and around the world.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made this great event possible. We’re looking forward to another exciting year ahead!

Watch all the videos from the 2024 Hilliard State of the City

City Manager Michelle Crandall delivered our annual State of the City presentation in front of a packed house Wednesday evening at Crooked Can Brewing Company in Downtown Hilliard.
Crandall described all the ways our community is "On The Move" into a promising and sustainable future.

Growth and Recreation: The Lasting Legacy of Roger A. Reynolds

March 15, 2024

The growth and development of modern-day Hilliard would not be possible without the leadership and vision of Roger A. Reynolds.

To the younger generation, the name likely sounds familiar as the namesake to Municipal Park. Fittingly, the growth of Hilliard recreation and parks remains one of his proudest achievements.

Reynolds turned 90 last September, and while his step may have slowed he remains sharp as a tack and one of the community’s biggest supporters. In many ways, he served as one of the founding fathers of Hilliard’s City government.

Reynolds said his path to being elected as Hilliard’s first full-time mayor in 1975 was an unusual one.

Roger Reynolds pictured through the years during his 24 years as Hilliard's first full-time mayor.

For the first half of his professional life, Reynolds worked as an accountant for Jeffrey Mining Machinery company in Columbus. In 1958, he and his wife, Phyllis, moved to Hilliard when it was still a village of less than 5,000 people.

His first appointed position came thanks to his desire to have sidewalks installed for children to walk safely to school. Reynolds showed up to a parent-teacher organization meeting one evening and was named president of the J.W. Reason Elementary PTO.

“Believe it or not, that one opportunity started my career in public service,” Reynolds said. “Hilliard’s superintendent later asked me to run for Hilliard City Council, and after I got elected in 1971 things really took off.”

Reynolds quickly earned a reputation as a smart and trustworthy advocate for the Hilliard community. In 1972, he was granted a leave of absence from his employer to serve as Hilliard’s Director of Service, Director of Safety, and Director of Recreation and Parks.

A few years later, the City created a paid position for a full-time mayor, and the rest was history. In total, Reynolds was elected to six terms as Hilliard mayor from 1975 until his retirement on Dec. 31, 1998.

“I’m so proud of everything we were able to accomplish, especially when it comes to recreation, the roads, and our relationship with the Hilliard City School District,” Reynolds said. “My legacy is probably ‘growth,’ because I was very active in annexations to keep Hilliard as our own unique city. Over 24 years, we were able to secure land and form a master plan that’s now benefiting the next generation.”

Roger Reynolds poses with members of Hilliard City Council at the Beam Topping event for The Well, Hilliard's new recreation and wellness facility in February 2024.

In the early 2000s, the City officially dedicated Roger A. Reynolds Municipal Park, which serves as the home of the Recreation and Parks Department. The park’s 130 acres of amenities includes the Hilliard Family Aquatic Center, ball fields, a disc golf course, sledding hill, pickleball courts, and more. It also serves as home to Hilliard’s signature event, Freedom Fest.

The future of Hilliard recreation sits just west of this location, with the addition of the 125-acre Hilliard Recreation and Wellness Campus opening in mid-2025.

“The Well is going to be a fantastic facility and something our community has been (desiring) for a long time,” Reynolds said. “Our plan was to always expand Municipal Park, and it wouldn’t be possible without the business growth and the income tax to support these amenities.”

Reynolds’ charisma and likeable personality made him a natural negotiator in landing business deals to further Hilliard’s growth. During his tenure as mayor, the City’s tax evaluation increased more than 20-fold, with an operating budget that started at $1.8 million in 1975 and grew to about $12 million in 1998. In that time span, Hilliard’s population growth also increased from 8,000 to 21,000.

“Although we’re several decades apart, City Manager Michelle Crandall and I hold many of the same beliefs and philosophies, and I think she’s doing a phenomenal job,” Reynolds said. “She understands the importance of commercial and industrial growth and is really moving the city in the right direction.”

Reynolds still lives in Hilliard with his wife. They both remain active in the community they love dearly.

“I’ve always said, there’s a place for everybody here in Hilliard. In fact, that was one of our mottos,” said Reynolds. “Hilliard is truly a unique, friendly community with such a bright future. I’m just glad I was able to play a small part in what it is today.”

Happy Leap Day, Hilliard! Have you heard of the Leap Road Leapers?

February 29, 2024

Have you heard of the Leap Road Leapers?! 🏃‍♂️🏃‍♀️

Once every four years, something strange happens on Leap Road in Hilliard. The extra day on the calendar has resulted in some bizarre behavior on Feb. 29. Watch for yourself!

Happy Leap Day, Hilliard! 😉

Choose Hilliard: RDP Foodservice

February 27, 2024

Quality pizza ingredients and hometown family values…it’s no wonder RDP Foodservice is experiencing great success!

This family-owned operation started as an Italian grocery store in the 1940s and has grown into one of the largest independent food distributors in the United States. Nowadays, RDP is a lot more than just pizza! In 2016, the company moved to Hilliard, just off I-270 on Parkway Court, and that growth has continued.

On this episode of Choose Hilliard, we’ll show you a behind-the-scenes look at RDP’s 110,000-square-foot facility, plus tell you how music plays a key role in their company philosophy, and discuss its plans for future expansion.

For more information about RDP, visit rdpfoodservice.com.

Hilliard celebrates ‘topping out’ of new recreation and wellness center

February 2, 2024

The City of Hilliard held a “topping-out” ceremony at the construction site of its new recreation and wellness center on Friday, Feb. 2, where the final beam was lifted into place.

The ceremony marks the completion of the structural work on The Well, which started in Spring 2023.

In the days leading up to the topping out event, members of City Council, the construction and design team, City staff, and board and commission members had the opportunity to sign the steel beam to leave their mark on The Well.

“This event represents a major milestone in the construction process and years of dreaming,” said City of Hilliard City Council President Cynthia Vermillion.  “The beam marks a piece of Hilliard history that will expand recreation opportunities in our community and have significant benefits to quality of life and economic development.”

 Ruscilli Construction Co., LLC and McCarthy Consulting are leading the construction project. The Well was designed by Barker Rinker Seacat and Prime AE Group.

“We are excited about the construction progress and appreciate the outstanding partnership between the City of Hilliard and our construction team,” said President of Ruscilli Construction Co., LLC Adam Drexel. “It’s a great feeling to be involved with a project that will transform a community.”

Once construction is finished in 2025, The Well will include an aquatic facility, indoor running track, gymnasium, fitness center with weight room, space for fitness classes and community events, and a medical, health and wellness center operated by The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. The development of the surrounding park campus will include 22 athletic fields.

The project is one of the largest capital investments in the City of Hilliard’s history. Read more about The Well on our website. The Well – Hilliard Recreation and Wellness Center – City of Hilliard (hilliardohio.gov)

Hilliard Celebrates Black History Month

January 31, 2024

Trips to a special park and museum exhibits are great ways to learn about the important role Black residents have played in Hilliard’s history.

Merchant Park celebrates the role of the Merchant family, whose members are believed to be the first known Black family to own land and settle in what is now Hilliard.

The park, at 5462 Center St. in Downtown Hilliard, was dedicated in October 2021 to honor the Merchant family legacy. The 1850 U.S. Census listed Yammer and Tabitha Merchant, with their seven children, as a Black family living in Norwich Township. They arrived from Virginia as part of a movement of previously freed slaves and settled in what is present-day Brookfield Village.

Evonne Merchant Grant is one of the descendants of the Merchant family living in Central Ohio. In 2008, she started researching her family history and was instrumental in the work done for the Merchant Park dedication.

Evonne Merchant Grant speaks to crowd at the Merchant Park dedication ceremony in Downtown Hilliard in October 2021.
Evonne Merchant Grant addresses the crowd at the Merchant Park dedication ceremony in Downtown Hilliard in October 2021.

“Knowing who you are and where you came from is a beautiful thing,” Merchant Grant said. “It’s so important to seek out your family history while you still can with the older generation, because so often it is lost.”

Merchant Grant worked alongside City Attorney Dawn Steele to piece together these key moments of Black history in Hilliard. Steele is also a docent at the Hilliard Historical Society and put together a Black history exhibit at the museum in Weaver Park.

“We did a lot of research on the Merchants in particular, but we also uncovered a story about Hilliard as a whole,” Steele said. “Hilliard opened its first integrated school in 1878, and they’ve remained that way ever since. I think that’s a great testament to our community, and the Merchants were a big part of that.”

The museum exhibit features displays and artifacts on Hilliard’s early Black history through the 19th and 20th century. There are also items and kid-friendly exhibits that depict an old-fashioned family reunion and the role of each family member in a village. Steele said the research was done in phases, starting with census data, newspapers, and other information found in the library at the Hilliard Historical Society.

“Our goal was to make the exhibits informative and interactive, to really spark conversations for people,” Steele said. “The Merchants have been great to work with and, thanks to the continued efforts of Evonne and others, we’re learning more all the time.”

Merchant Grant said she visits the serene Merchant Park in Downtown Hilliard several times a year and always comes away with a sense of gratitude.

“I’m just so grateful for all the City of Hilliard has done to honor our family,” she said. “We’ve learned so much about not only our ancestors but about ourselves. Just because we have different skin colors, that doesn’t matter, we’re all one big happy family as part of the human race.”

The Merchant family gathers for the City of Hilliard's Merchant Park dedication ceremony in October 2021.
The Merchant family gathers to celebrate the dedication of Hilliard’s Merchant Park in October 2021.

Hilliard City Lab: Past, Present, and Future

December 28, 2023

2023 was a year of significant progress and growth for Hilliard City Lab, the City’s innovative technology platform.

Here’s a few eye-popping numbers that City Lab companies have accomplished through the Hilliard Development Corporation’s Innovation Grant Program:

🔷 12 grants awarded to City Lab companies totaling $450,000

🔷 $74.4 million in private investment committed from Hilliard City Lab companies

🔷 391 new jobs created and 360 jobs retained

In this video, learn about the past, present, and future of Hilliard City Lab and how its mission benefits Hilliard residents and businesses. Learn more: https://hilliardohio.gov/city-lab/.

Meet Buddy Hilliard The Elf: Happy Holidays from the City of Hilliard!

December 19, 2023

Meet everyone’s favorite elf, Buddy Hilliard!

This past week, Buddy was out and about spreading holiday cheer in his favorite place: Hilliard.

From all of us at the City of Hilliard, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season.

A Year of Progress: 2023 Hilliard Recreation & Wellness Campus Update

December 12, 2023

A year of progress on the Road to Recreation!

2023 was a pivotal year in the construction of the City of Hilliard’s new state-of-the-art recreation and wellness campus. 

Watch the video for an update on the four main elements: “The Well” facility, the Cosgray Road extension, the Athletic Complex, and the City’s Environmental Sustainability efforts. 

Construction will continue over the next 18-months, with a grand opening set for mid-2025. For more information, visit https://hilliardohio.gov/r2r/.

Choose Hilliard: River’s Edge Cutlery

November 14, 2023

A high-end knife and cutlery shop is making quite a name for itself here in Hilliard.

River’s Edge Cutlery (REC) is located just off I-270 on Lyman Drive, offering specialty knives for all industries – from everyday carry, to outdoor, tactical, grooming, and even kitchen knives. REC truly has something for everyone.

Brothers Mike and Brian Kent started the company 20 years ago and have grown into one of the most trusted and respected custom knife shops in the region. REC specializes in retail sales and also knife sharpening and manufacturing.

On this episode of Choose Hilliard, we’ll tour their impressive 29,000-square-foot facility and discuss how their business has thrived here in Hilliard.

Downtown Hilliard: Past, Present, and Future

October 25, 2023

The heart of our community: past, present, and future!

Downtown Hilliard is the vibrant home to first-class amenities and events, thriving local businesses and restaurants, and most importantly, thousands of residents and visitors who enjoy this area every year. 

Our Downtown is the perfect example of planned, thoughtful growth, with this vision coming to life over the past decade. 

Watch the video to learn more about the railroad route surrounding “Hilliard’s Station” and how Downtown Hilliard continues to pay homage to its rich railroad history. Plus, hear how Downtown’s growing business community is paving the way for future growth. This intentional growth will continue to add vibrancy that embraces our past and looks forward to our exciting future!

A boy diving into water
A boy blowing bubbles

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