MRNKY17: The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce is key to regional growth and prosperity

MainStraisse Village in Covington is a popular shopping, dining and tourism destination.
MainStraisse Village in Covington is a popular shopping, dining and tourism destination.

Winston Churchill once spoke about the United States and the United Kingdom being “two nations divided by a common language.” Such a statement may sound familiar to those who live and work in Northern Kentucky.   

mrnk-cover300Some see NKY as an extension of Cincinnati and Ohio, while others see it as a place as blue as the Bluegrass itself. The truth is both and neither. Navigating which part is which is something the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has helped business to do for many years.

During the late 1960s, leaders of the Covington Kenton-Boone Chamber of Commerce and the Campbell County Chamber of Commerce joined forces to spur action on two projects; the Kentucky portion of I-275 and the site selection of the new state college that would later become Northern Kentucky University. Those successful collaborations led to a full merger by 1969.

The Chamber itself grew to serve a niche in the region. With so many counties and dozens of small cities, the Chamber became the de facto voice from which Northern Kentucky made its voice heard in Frankfort and Washington.

That Public Affairs component, not only serves as the historic reason for the Northern Kentucky Chamber’s existence, but also plays a big role in what the Chamber does today. The NKY Chamber serves as the voice of its members on key legislative and regulatory issues in Northern Kentucky, Frankfort and Washington, D.C. As a member, there are many opportunities to access legislators and key government officials, to get involved and build relationships.

Another key part of the NKY Chamber’s efforts is the work done to help and cultivate small business. In fact, 85 percent of our member companies employ fewer than 50 people.

“The Chamber’s continuing efforts to celebrate and connect small businesses is a primary reason for our continued involvement in Chamber activities,” said Charlie Vance, CEO of Erigo. “We utilize the Chamber as a venue to keep connected to the Northern Kentucky business community as well as to market our services.”

Another key tool the NKY Chamber provides is attention to helping members manage workforce issues. The Chamber provides resources and programming to member companies in the areas of Health, Wellness & Safety, Talent & Human Resources and Labor Law. The Chamber also makes the vital connections between organizations and initiatives needed to develop a strong workforce in our region.

When it comes to connections and member engagement, it is hard to beat the reach of the Women’s Initiative program at the Chamber, a leading organization for women of all career stages working toward business and professional success. It was created to inspire area businesswomen in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati to Connect, Grow and Achieve.

The Chamber also focuses resources on cultivating future leaders. Leadership NKY uses the community as a classroom to develop leaders who will effectively serve the region. The program is designed to help a diverse group of potential, emerging, and existing community leaders acquire an understanding of the strengths and challenges of the Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati area. Regional Youth Leadership (RYL) develops young leaders who will be the future workforce in both Ohio and Kentucky. The early development of lifelong leadership skills provides better citizens and ultimately better employees. RYL provides the opportunity for unique collaboration among a diverse group of high school junior students from the tri-state region attending public, private and home schools in urban, rural and suburban areas.

The NKY Chamber is known around the region for its emphasis on networking, making connections between members to encourage collaboration, business development and community engagement.

“The Northern Kentucky Chamber is the place to be when it comes to networking, collaborating and having fun,” said Candace McGraw, CEO of the Cincinnati Northern Kentucky International Airport. “The advocacy and work conducted by the Chamber supports our mission to be the airport of choice to work for, fly from and do business with.”

Another unique area of the Chamber is its support and involvement in the Northern Kentucky International Trade Association (NKITA), which aims to assist its members achieve international trade goals and objectives through connections with global business resources and high-impact, technical programming in the Northern Kentucky Region. NKITA is one of the only programs of its kind in the country on a local chamber level.

The NKY Chamber offers hundreds of events, training programs and publications to our members and to the business community. As an evolving vibrant network of businesses, communities and leaders with a unified vision to connect, the impact on the community has been immense. With so much going on, far more than a peer chamber of similar size, a rebranding process was recently undertaken not just for the Chamber, but for the region of Northern Kentucky itself.

“Thanks to the financial generosity of Toyota, and the creative talents of BLDG, the Chamber has begun to unveil a new brand not just for us, but for the entire region.” said Trey Grayson, President/CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

The new brand has the feature of an embedded question because the last letter “Y” is accentuated with a different color to stand out. This simple badge provides a jumping off point to start telling the story of our Chamber and our region in response to those questions. Why NKY?  Why Northern Kentucky?

“The answer is constantly evolving, so the brand doesn’t force you into a specific answer,” said Grayson. “It lets you tell your own story of Why NKY? With your own ‘Because’ answer, such as ‘Because our river cities are vibrant.’ ”

“Your brand is how your customers perceive you,” said Bob Heil, Principal, President and CEO of KLH Engineers and the chairman of the NKY Chamber board. “So while you will see our brand marker all over Northern Kentucky, you will see us at the NKY Chamber living our brand. We will continue to promote and support he development of strong business and a vibrant economy in the Northern Kentucky region.”

Heil, became chair in September, but used his position as chair-elect last year helping the Chamber to launch new initiatives including a new website, new magazine, new ways to update members, and member buy-in of communications goals across the region.

For more information about how membership in the NKY Chamber can benefit your organization, contact Lynn Abeln at [email protected] or (859) 578-6390.

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