By Brit Fitzpatrick
Executive Director, Blue North
COVINGTON, Ky.—When I notice a problem, I want to find an answer … And to find an answer, I often start by asking questions. It’s my nature and, as a Northern Kentucky resident, one I’m sure I share with the hundreds of business professionals and creatives whose ideas help to create, shape and move our region forward.
November is National Entrepreneurship Month, and as the Executive Director of Blue North, I can attest that the power of entrepreneurship that’s been on display throughout 2020 as COVID-19 has forced us to adjust to a new normal as millions of Kentuckians collectively continue to find new ways to do things.
Our communities have been impacted by uncertainty, turmoil and strife, not only economically but socially as well. Access, or lack of access, privilege, what it means to be essential or non-essential and systemic inequality are on full display. I see a problem and I want to find an answer. What are we doing to resolve inequalities in our region?
We have underserved communities that need access to goods and services many of us take for granted, creatives with fresh perspectives seeking opportunities – not handouts, and BIPOC-owned businesses in need of support. I’m excited to see the progress being made to make Northern Kentucky the number one supply chain innovation ecosystem in the Midwest. However, I also see the need for change in the systems that influence our day-to-day lives.
The death of Breonna Taylor shook me to my core. As a black woman and Louisville native myself, I cannot accurately articulate the anger, frustration and sadness I felt hearing her story (along with those of George Floyd and so many others brothers and sisters like him). It also left me asking a question common to so many of us: What can I do to bring a positive change?
Every significant cultural shift has been driven by creative individuals. We saw it during the Civil Rights movement with slogans, art, use of media and famous non-violent protests in the form of sit-ins. These collective actions demonstrated why public spaces should be open to all.
This year, we’ve seen it in Louisville, where resident creative Shauntrice Martin took action following the closing of the predominantly black West End neighborhood’s only grocery store that created a food desert during a pandemic. Starting with a simple social media hashtag (#FeedTheWest), her efforts resulted in 8,000 grocery deliveries and the construction of Black Market, a grocery store where West End residents will now find fresh, affordable food.
Seeing our world as it is with all its flaws and saying, “There is an opportunity here to fix a problem and make something great … What can I do to make this happen?” “What resources are needed?” and “How can I inspire others to join in and follow suit?” This is the spirit of entrepreneurship: authenticity, creativity and action.
As companies like Gravity Diagnostics, Bexion and Grateful Grahams have shown, Northern Kentucky is rich in its mix of wisdom and energy, know-how and risk takers, creators and inspirators ready to take our region to new heights.
We have the talent. We have the resources. All we need now is for us to commit to building, growing and investing in a more equitable and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem in Northern Kentucky. This is why Blue North has partnered with Northern Kentucky Community
Action Commission, MORTAR Covington, Renaissance Covington and the Northern Kentucky
Chamber of Commerce to map Northern Kentucky’s Black-owned businesses to help create more equitable support and resource systems. The Black-owned business census allows us to create and share resources while strengthening our region’s startup community. Businesses that would like to participate can text the word COMMUNITY to (859) 545-8616 to add their name, voice, and business now throughout National Entrepreneurship Month.
Together, we can make change happen. Let’s innovate for the greater good.
Blue North supports entrepreneurs, creators and builders in the eight county Northern Kentucky region.