The construction of the new Gateway Community & Technical College campus in Boone County is one of many examples of the economic growth taking place in Northern Kentucky.
Special to KyForward
The Tri-County Economic Development Corporation, formed in Northern Kentucky 25 years ago, will celebrate regional growth and “continued acceleration” of future growth at a reception Tuesday at the Mets Center in Erlanger.
Tri-Ed is a non-profit private-public partnership to stimulate economic growth; it serves a metropolitan region of 2.1 million people and is an advocate for a thriving business climate.
Evidence of its success can be seen everywhere — in the condos cropping up along Bellevue’s riverfront, in Covington’s start-up activity, and in recent expansions at The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) and Northern Kentucky University (NKU).
Northern Kentucky's Rivercenter
A recent analysis completed by Tri-ED shows that Northern Kentucky’s success dwarfs that of even some larger cities and stems from use of independent resources and good decision-making within Northern Kentucky as a stand-alone “micropolitan” area within Greater Cincinnati.
2011 was a banner year for businesses that settled in Northern Kentucky.
An annual economic impact study released by NKU’s Center for Economic Analysis and Development (CEAD) in March 2012 revealed that businesses created 1,303 primary industry jobs and garnered $343M in capital investment for the area in 2011. That’s the fourth highest capital investment in Tri-ED history, far surpassing the 25-year average of $208M.
NKY as a standalone market
The Cincinnati area grew tremendously in 2011, beating out cities like Pittsburgh and Chicago to land sixth overall on Site Selection magazine’s list of top metropolitan areas. If Northern Kentucky were ranked as a stand-alone MSA, it would outpace many medium-sized U.S. Zones — those with 200,000 to 1 million residents — and tie Pennsylvania’s Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton area for fourth place with 28 investment projects.
Boone County in particular excels when compared with similarly-sized cities, and would vault to the top of the list a full five projects ahead of its second-place competitor. Taken together, the tri-county area compares in size to cities such as Charlottesville, VA, and Decatur, AL.
The report also shows NKY’s tri-county area driving economic success for the entire Commonwealth, showing strong growth in new jobs, investments, announcements, and lead generation.
Northern Kentucky University's Mets Center, a meeting, training and conference facility opened in 2003, is another example of the success of Northern Kentucky's economic development projects.
“Northern Kentucky continues to surprise and surpass other regions of the country when it comes to high quality of life, low cost of living, low taxes and tremendous access for logistics,” says Governor Steve Beshear. “For a quarter of a century now, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED has carried the banner for the region, constantly showcasing why Northern Kentucky is uniquely positioned to help companies succeed, not only now, but for the next 25 years and beyond.”
“The success achieved by these economic development projects has multiple effects in the region,” says Dan Tobergte, president and CEO of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED. “When primary industry companies get started, expand their operations, or relocate here from other areas, it creates not only direct opportunities, but indirect opportunities as well.”
Tobergte cites logistics, distribution, and staffing as just a few examples of the local sectors that have benefitted from industrial growth in recent years.
A diverse manufacturing base coupled with a reliable system of transporting goods — by air, highway, and water — are what put Northern Kentucky ahead of the pack, according to Janet Harrah, Senior Director at NKU’s Center for Economic Analysis and Development.
“Nationwide, manufacturing has been coming back, in terms of employment, faster than most industry sectors,” says Harrah. “So the fact that we have a large manufacturing base, and a very diversified base at that, has really helped us in terms of job growth over the last 12 to 18 months.”
Doing our part
While no economic trend is guaranteed or indefinite, Northern Kentucky residents can support positive momentum at the individual level.
“We are all ambassadors to where we live, work and play,” says Tobergte. “We have a hand in showing that this is a friendly, accommodating area — whether it’s the taxi driver, the hotel desk clerk, the restaurateur — it’s incumbent on all of us as we interact in the community.
“We’ve heard it a number of times, [that corporate site selectors] make decisions about whether their primary industry company is going to invest based on the feel they get for the community,” he adds. “It can make a big difference in some of these important decisions that are made.
Credits: Tri-County Economic Development Corp., Northern Kentucky USA,
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