Denise Hamet

Denise Hamet, Community & Economic Development Professional

Denise Hamet is a versatile development professional and M.B.A. with more than 25 years of experience in economic development, real estate development, banking, nonprofit management, community planning, and financial analysis. She is an experienced leader and is comfortable with bringing diverse, interdisciplinary teams together. Throughout her career, she has worked with industry leading entities. Denise Hamet’s skills include business development, program and project management, public outreach, public-private partnership structuring, public advocacy, business retention and recruitment, financial analysis and budgeting, grant writing and management, land use and strategic planning, location intelligence, proposal writing, and contract management.


Tell us about yourself? 

I am married and a parent of two wonderful young adults.  As a middle child in my family, I learned to relate to both older and younger people. As a left-hander, I have learned to exist in a right-handed world; I believe this challenge contributed to my ability to think both analytically and creatively.  Growing up in a family with four children, I also learned the value of hard work. In my experience, you either lead, follow, or get out of the way.

I was born and raised for five years in Louisville, Kentucky, then moved to a small town in the Midwest, where I learned the value of community, the enjoyment of nature, the wonder of music, and the fantastic journeys available through books at the local library!  I was privileged to attend a school that had a strong music department, and I spent many happy years as a band geek playing the clarinet.  I grew up in a household of Cleveland sports fans and came to appreciate perseverance–we sat year after year in the old near-empty stadium. After a cold and snowy last year of high school, I headed west to attend college in Tucson and graduate school in Tempe.

I began working professionally in southern California running numbers and managing contracts in the aerospace field. I had the opportunity to advance to a premier real estate developer position in southern California, then moved on to city planning, banking, and eventually economic and community development. Through this experience, I learned the importance of follow up and follow through, and found that most things of value take time and work. I earned my Black Belt in Tae Kwon Do at a time when there were few women in the class; learning to throw a punch was empowering and life changing.

I appreciate music, history, the outdoors, and art; I am also a proud board member of the team renovating the historic Sorg Opera House, designed by the renowned architect Samuel Hannaford.  I love a great story and a good sense of humor, and I especially enjoy the NPR quiz shows.  I respect and appreciate other cultures, and after marrying my husband, I have had the pleasure of becoming much more familiar with Mediterranean food, music, and culture.

What makes you different than other professionals in your field?

My combination of both private sector, public sector, and nonprofit experience provides me with a broad and unique perspective. My varied professional experience–including banking, business planning, economic development, and nonprofit management–contributes to my ability to complete projects in a timely and efficient manner.

What was the most important part of your professional journey?

Moving from my first job in aerospace to a position in real estate development changed my perspective and helped me learn the development process. That position eventually led to a job opportunity with a local real estate advisory firm, where I had the privilege of being part of a small team of professional experts who consulted on many ground-breaking projects in the Greater Cincinnati area. It was there that I learned the importance of visioning “what could be,” which is a core value I still have today.

What are the best and worst purchases you’ve ever made?

Best – European Tour (I could also say a ticket to see Barry Manilow!) But the European tour was three weeks of experiencing a totally different world.

Worst- We thought decorating a nursery in clowns was great and so we bought all this clown décor – even a clown lamp. All those clowns in one room took on a life of their own!


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What takes up too much of your time?

Figuring out new technology! It’s important but time consuming.

What three pieces of advice would you give to college students/new startup business owners who want to become entrepreneurs?

  1. Do it! Take the risk, but get advice.
  2. Connect with the SBA; get their advice and connections.
  3. Be disciplined.

Who has impressed you most with what they’ve accomplished?

The Sorg Opera House Revitalization team never ceases to amaze me. They took on the long-term and difficult project of revitalizing a historic opera house and they continue to find new solutions to each obstacle they encounter.

What drives you to keep going when it’s really tough?

Receiving support from friends and family and being able to help others boosts my own morale. Simple things that make others’ lives better, like bringing a smile to the face of a beleaguered store clerk, lifts my spirits. Additionally, I keep a biography file of people who motivate me; some are famous like Madeleine Albright, others are ordinary people who have made a difference to me. I have kept this for years and I pull the file out and read the bios every now and then. They inspire me to keep going.

How should people connect with you?

Reach out to me via Email.

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