A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Year in Review: Highlights include growth for NKY businesses, communities, education and health

By John Fox
Special to NKyTribune from NKY Thrives

First of two parts

As 2015 comes to a close, NKY Thrives asked Northern Kentucky leaders to look back at the region’s civic achievements, notable milestones, new businesses and emerging trends to suggest highlights for the year.

Part I of this two-part series shares their views on the emergence of a new regional plan, support for job growth and the thriving entrepreneurial community. Part II, which will be published Thursday, includes views on access to education, the focus on healthier living and choices, development in the urban core and bringing attention to Northern Kentucky.

Emergence of the new regional plan

Northern Kentucky welcomed Skyward in 2015 by providing over 15,000 touches to a campaign that drove the myNKY community vision. This ambitious plan will set a new pace for success in early childhood education, wellness, jobs and vibrancy for the region.
— Kristine Frech, Vice President, Skyward



In 2015 the myNKY plan was launched and Skyward was born, setting an incredibly focused and measurable direction for the next five years in NKY. This plan is putting extra fuel behind existing community priorities and creating new important ones for NKY’s future.
— Leshia Lyman, United Way of Greater Cincinnati

Completion of the Skyward strategic planning process is a notable 2015 achievement, building on Vision 2015 but more focused with metrics by which we can measure ourselves. NKY has developed an unusual capacity to both plan and execute a regional vision. I’m also impressed with the emergence of the next generation of regional leaders, women and men in their 30s and 40s who actively led the Skyward process and who will increasingly shoulder the leadership for the future of our region.
— Jim Votruba, retired President, Northern Kentucky University

Support for job growth

Northern Kentucky and Northern Kentucky Tri-ED had a very successful year for total new projects, capital investment and new jobs in 2015. This year was Northern Kentucky’s fourth best year ever for capital investment — more than $460 million invested — since Tri-ED’s founding in 1987. Combined with continued job growth, that success really showcases Northern Kentucky as an economic engine for the Commonwealth of Kentucky and for our entire region.
— Dan Tobergte, President & CEO, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED



Six advanced manufacturing businesses joined forces with Gateway’s lead manufacturing programs instructor to custom-design a competency-based accelerated program to fill the talent pipeline for entry-level machine operators — the position identified in the 2013 NKY Industrial Park Association demand study as having the largest projected gap. The first cohort, consisting of 20 incumbent employees, starts class in January and will complete the certificate program in May. A second class of adult workers will commence in March, and a dual-credit version of the program designed for high school seniors will commence in August.
— Ed Ratterman, Director, Advanced Manufacturing Workforce Development Coalition of Northern Kentucky

The 2015 highlight for us at Bosch and also for our industry partners in our NKY region was the launch of KY FAME, the dual credit apprenticeship program that’s helping the manufacturing industry to start closing the skills gap. It’s a great partnership between industry (currently 18 member companies and growing), Gateway, KCTCS statewide, Cabinet of Workforce Development and the high school system in our region to launch this program.
— Mike Hirsch, VP Operations, Robert Bosch Automotive Steering

CVG reached agreement with its airline and cargo partners for a restructured business deal, the first Use Agreement in more than 40 years. The agreement provides airport management with more control over the operation and financial structure of the airport. On the jobs front, American Airlines signed a 10-year lease agreement to open a new full-service maintenance operation and establish a crew base at CVG. Allegiant will establish an aircraft base at CVG commencing in January, resulting in additional flights and the hiring of approximately 100 new jobs, including pilots, flight attendants and maintenance crews.
— Bobby Span, Vice President of External Affairs, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport

As our region made progress in creating jobs and opportunity, significant progress was made to better align our community’s collective resources to more effectively connect people to jobs. TANK worked with regional workforce partners (NKY Workforce Investment Board, NKY Chamber of Commerce, NKY Tri-Ed) to meet the needs of a growing workforce by transporting a record number of passengers to jobs in Northern Kentucky at some of the region’s key suburban employers.
— Andrew Aiello, General Manager, Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky

Thriving entrepreneurial community

Northern Kentucky led the passage of Kentucky’s Angel Investment Tax Credit program. In only eight months, the program’s annual allotment of $3 million in tax credits were exhausted in stimulating $7.5 million in Kentucky startup funding.
— Casey Barach, Senior Vice President of Entrepreneurship, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED



Connetic Ventures, led by Brad Zapp, established a $5 million fund made up of roughly 50 angel investors providing regional startups with another much-needed seed stage funding source.
— JB Woodruff, Commercialization Director, Kentucky Innovation Network

Brad Zapp has made a huge difference in the region in attracting talent and tech startups to Northern Kentucky. He’s made it a hub for innovation by bringing in investors to fund these companies and keep them here in NKY.
— Natasia Malaihollo, Founder and CEO, Wyzerr

Bad Girl Ventures Inc. celebrated the signing of an agreement with the City of Covington to begin the buildout of a new office on Pike Street, where we’ll hold business growth workshops for female business owners, have offices for regional staff and host events for our 650-plus Bad Girl alumnae members. We’re excited to contribute to the growth of the region through entrepreneurialism.
— Nancy Aichholz, Executive Director, Bad Girl Ventures

Tomorrow: Education, health, urban development

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