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Diverse economy creates bright spots

NKY Tri-ED: Momentum in Northern Kentucky is strong; businesses find success during challenging times
Northern Kentucky offers an unrivaled quality of life that blends urban, suburban and rural amenities to suit every lifestyle.

By Northern Kentucky Tri-ED
Market Review Underwriter

The year 2020 was certainly a year like no other. Despite businesses being shut down or at reduced capacity at various points throughout the year, many companies in a diverse array of industries grew and expanded in 2020 with the help of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, which showed the resilience of our region.

While many people worked from home for the first time or helped their children learn virtually, 48% of the companies Tri-ED assisted in growing in 2020 were related to new or expanded offices and 44% were advanced manufacturing companies. Office layouts and dynamics may evolve, but companies are investing millions of dollars in Northern Kentucky, creating new spaces and preparing for employees to return to them.

Key business sectors find success

With the coronavirus pandemic, demand for laboratory testing and clinical trials of new drugs and vaccines increased dramatically. Medical research companies in Northern Kentucky played a key role in the state and Cincinnati region: Gravity Diagnostics, CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services (CTI) and Ethos Laboratories grew exponentially and experienced an incredible increase in demand for their services.

Manufacturers of cleaning products, such as Camco Chemical Co. and Best Sanitizers expanded; food companies like Schwan’s and Tyson continued to hire; and technology companies like STEP CG and IT Supply Solutions invested in expansions. Hundreds of new jobs were added in our three-county region. With the surge in online shopping by consumers, the DHL Express Superhub and Amazon Air Hub at Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) delivered products to customers at unprecedented levels all year.

Demand for talent leads to diversity

To sustain the growth of this region across all sectors, population and workforce are key issues for Northern Kentucky Tri-ED. We work with GROW (Growing Regional Outcomes through Workforce) NKY, our education partners and employment centers to attract new people to our region, train our existing workforce and educate our students for future careers.

We believe as we attract new people to the region, diversity of ethnicities, religions and sexual orientation will increase. Tri-ED is committed to the meaningful work that ensures racism, discrimination and social injustice do not live in Northern Kentucky. We stand with those in our community who share the belief that every person deserves equal treatment, opportunity, and protection.

We also celebrate with the City of Covington, which scored 96 on the 2020 Municipal Equality Index, for being the second highest-scoring city in Kentucky in ratings released by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group. We commend these Northern Kentucky cities – Bellevue, Highland Heights, Fort Thomas, Cold Spring and Newport – for passing fairness ordinances over the last two years.

Supporting innovation

Entrepreneurship is a strong economic driver and the economic uncertainty faced by many in our community will lead to new ideas and new businesses in our region. Blue North, a community for startups and small businesses in Northern Kentucky, launched as an independent organization in 2020 – achieving a significant goal set by Tri-ED. Blue North is leveraging Northern Kentucky’s unique strengths and assets to drive innovation in four specific sectors: health (cancer diagnostics, screening and treatment innovations); supply chain; e-commerce; and local growth (food, beverage, distilled spirits and creative services).

To assist the community in supporting a wide range of businesses, Blue North partnered with the 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 drive support and resource systems. The Black-owned business census will strengthen our region’s startup community.

Northern Kentucky University has a long tenure of supporting entrepreneurs and the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (CIE) was recognized by the Global Consortium of Entrepreneurship Centers as one of three finalists for the 2020 Excellence in Entrepreneurship Teaching and Pedagogical Innovation Award. The CIE was recognized for the third year in a row.

Unity and one voice for Northern Kentucky

Tri-ED believes that unifying our messaging and communication about Northern Kentucky and our priorities is incredibly important. We support the OneNKY Alliance, which is centered on moving our community forward around key initiatives that include education, job growth, health and community vibrancy.

OneNKY Frankfort is the headquarter location for our region’s growth organizations and provides a larger voice for the region in the state’s capital. We look forward to working with our delegation in Frankfort to secure the resources necessary for Northern Kentucky’s continued progress.

The Amazon Air Hub will open at CVG Airport in 2021, development will start at the 23-acre IRS site in Covington, and construction of Phase II of Ovation has begun. Momentum in Northern Kentucky is strong. The future is bright.