FORT MITCHELL, Ky. – The Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. (Tri-ED) recently conducted a survey with 86 Northern Kentucky business leaders that provides insight on the opportunities and challenges the pandemic and recovery have presented to the region’s companies. Northern Kentucky Tri-ED serves as the primary economic development company for Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, providing marketing, business retention and expansion services for the region.
“Gathering business insight and key data that we can share with our communities and companies are priorities for Tri-ED. We have the expertise and tools in place and we plan to leverage them on an ongoing basis,” said CEO Lee Crume. “I recently heard this: ‘You can’t solve problems you don’t see. Data reveals the problem.’ Through data, we can identify areas to improve our services and strategies to enhance our community.”
Hiring is a priority for Northern Kentucky employers
“With NKY’s labor force participation rate at 67%, higher than both the state and national averages, we know that hiring is a challenge many employers are facing,” shared Vice President of Economic Development Kimberly Rossetti. “Outreach about workforce programs and services was requested by 73% of respondents. We are working with GROW NKY and our partners, Northern Kentucky Career Center and the Workforce Investment Board, and education institutions such as Gateway Community and Technical College to help employers with attraction and retention of talent.”
Through GROW NKY, many employers have taken advantage of Strategic Workforce Action Team (SWAT) meetings that bring together a coalition of organizations in Northern Kentucky to meet with companies so they have the resources they need to grow, attract, retain and advance a globally competitive workforce.
Companies are taking a progressive approach toward employee health and well-being, diversity, equity and inclusion, sustainability and community engagement in Northern Kentucky. They are using policies in these areas as employee attraction and retention tools. Over 70% of respondents said they are actively working on policies in these areas while 16% have policies in place already.
Nationally and locally there is an ongoing dialogue about employees returning to the office and whether or not the office is “dead.”
According to 90% of survey respondents, new policies around working remotely will be developed and at least some employees will continue to work from home.
Supply chain challenges impact NKY businesses
Disruption of the supply chain is impacting NKY companies; 75% of respondents indicated that other than workforce, supply chain disruption is a primary concern. Getting materials, either domestically or internationally, is a challenge and rising prices are an obstacle businesses are facing.
With more than 40 automotive industry suppliers in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, the shortage of semiconductor chips and electronics was specifically mentioned by 5% of respondents.
“This survey gives us a glimpse of the challenges and opportunities our businesses are facing,” noted Crume. “Through our Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) meetings, we will work with companies to find areas where we can help and support them. We are planning to meet with CEOs in August to find out how we can do more to serve our business community.”
In 2020, Crume and Rossetti spoke with 20 Northern Kentucky business leaders from a variety of industry sectors to gain an understanding of how COVID-19 affected their operations, workforce and projections for 2020 revenues, growth and recovery. A short report of those findings is available for download.