A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

NKY Chamber membership grows by 18 percent in two years, driven by focus on issues and programs

Membership at the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has grown by 18 percent over the past two years.

Chamber leaders say it is a direct reflection of the NKY Chamber’s focus on issues and programs that are important to their business members and the NKY Region – workforce development, transportation, health, education and helping to champion the region.

“As we kick off 2020, it is a good time to reflect on the NKY Chamber’s Vision, which is to be the premier membership organization driving Northern Kentucky’s pursuit to be a world-class region to start, develop and grow thriving businesses,” said NKY Chamber President and CEO Brent Cooper, who was named president of the NKY Chamber in August of 2017.

“We are standing on the shoulders of business and civic leaders that 50 years ago established a vision for the future where we collaborate as a region and are stronger together,” said Cooper.  “I am confident that in 2020, that Vision will be even more clear.”

Cooper, who is also the founder & owner of C-Forward, a Covington-based Information Technology consulting firm, said he is thrilled with the NKY Chamber’s growth, in part because he has seen first-hand the impact the NKY Chamber has on local businesses, and the region as a whole.

“I’ve been involved with the NKY Chamber as a member since 1999 and joined the board in 2004,” said Cooper, a Covington resident. “I’ve found customers, vendors, employees and friends through the NKY Chamber. I’ve lived and breathed it. I’ve had the privilege of witnessing first-hand how the NKY Chamber works to lead, connect and advocate on behalf of our business community, and link the Northern Kentucky metro region together. We know that when our region collaborates and speaks with one voice, we have long term success.”


The NKY Chamber has also seen a tremendous surge in member satisfaction with the organization over the past two years.

The Net Promoter Score is a popular and respected management metric that measures customer experience and predicts business growth. In the last two years, the NKY Chamber’s Net Promoter score has improved 59 points. To put it in context, the NKY Chamber’s score now rivals that of some of the most well-known and respected brands in the world.

“I’ve seen how important the NKY Chamber is to the region, and the positive impact it can have on businesses, especially small businesses,” said Gaby Batshoun, President and Owner of Global Business Solutions, a Newport based I.T. services firm. “Whether it’s tax policy, workforce issues, or cyber security, the NKY Chamber is there to speak out on our behalf. They promote the region, while recognizing the impact that smaller employers and communities have on the big picture.”

“The NKY Chamber is full of highly motivated people who truly want the best for this region and all the businesses in it,” said Brady Jolly, President of Jolly Enterprises. “I would highly recommend for any business in our region to not only become a member of the NKY Chamber, but to also get involved in all of the great programs and events they offer.”

Since taking the reins of the NKY Chamber, Cooper recruited staff and volunteers that are passionate about the NKY region.

“I learned in owning and running my own business that you have to surround yourself with bright, focused, passionate, hard-working people, and that’s what we have at the NKY Chamber,” Cooper said. “When I look at what we’ve accomplished over the last two years, it relates directly to the great staff, Board, and volunteers we have.”

“Our entire team, led by our Senior Vice President Gene Kirchner, have worked hard to break down silos and promote a culture of excellence. Any success we’ve had is really due to their efforts,” remarked Cooper.


“Brent has developed a very effective team with the know-how and energy to deliver results,” said Jim Parsons, a partner with Keating Muething & Klekamp PPL and the immediate past NKY Chamber Chairman. “And boy did they ever deliver.”

The NKY Chamber has also forged, formed and burnished working relationships, initiatives and shared goals with the region’s other growth organizations, such as Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, Northern Kentucky Catalytic Fund,  Northern Kentucky Regional Alliance, Northern Kentucky Area Development District, Southbank Partners and others.

“Our relationship with the NKY Chamber has never been better,” said Jack Moreland, president of Southbank Partners, who manages and coordinates economic and community development in the region’s Ohio River cities. “Working with Brent Cooper and his teams and members at the NKY Chamber is rewarding and fruitful because we share so many of the same goals, including attracting jobs and investment to our region and enhancing the quality of life in our community.”

Other areas of success and focus include:


One of the first major initiatives spearheaded by Rhonda Whitaker Hurt (2017-18 NKY Chamber Board Chair) shortly after Cooper became President is GROW NKY (Growing Regional Outcomes through Workforce). GROW NKY is a strategic workforce collective comprised of leaders across key industries, educational institutions and community organizations working collaboratively to leverage the region’s assets to grow, attract and retain a globally competitive workforce.

GROW NKY’S areas of focus are:

• Kindergarten Readiness

• College & Career Readiness

• Adult Career Readiness and Lifelong Learning

• Talent Retention and Attraction

• Employer Policies and Practices

“The unemployment rate in NKY is at an all-time low, while the demand for talent is at an all-time high,” Cooper said. “That is exactly why the NKY Chamber and its partners collaborated to launch GROW NKY. If we hope to continue our current level of economic growth and be competitive in the global marketplace, it is critical that we focus on our collective effort on growing, attracting and retaining a world-class workforce.”


Led by Kristin Baldwin, the NKY Chamber’s vice president of public affairs and communications, the NKY Chamber has advocated on behalf on a number of important issues to Northern Kentucky businesses, residents, local officials, educators and others, including workforce development, curbing tobacco use, increasing voter turnout, transportation funding and more.


Baldwin is working in Frankfort during the ongoing Kentucky General Assembly legislative session, advocating for an agenda that includes increasing funding for infrastructure investment, continue pro-growth tax modernization, enacting sports wagering and increased and sustained funding for education and workforce development.

The NKY Chamber is also tackling politically sensitive issues to curb tobacco use for our current and future workforce. While the evidence is clear on the health benefits to stop tobacco use, there remains opposition on government’s role to limit use by citizens.

Cooper noted, “We have some of the worst smoking and cancer rates in the country. It is killing our workforce, driving up health care costs, and negatively impacting our quality of life. Our members have told us, loudly and repeatedly, that we need to advocate for policies that reduce smoking and vaping, and improve our collective health outcomes.”


Growth and prosperity are directly tied to improvements and expansion of infrastructure, and the Chamber is pushing for federal and state funding to complete the KY Route 536 east-west corridor, build new interstate exit ramps near the Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky International Airport to accommodate the growth coming with the opening of Amazon’s massive airport facility and replace the aging, crowded and unsafe Brent Spence Bridge corridor.


The NKY Chamber has been leading a “One Voice” campaign, intended to inform Northern Kentuckians about the region, remind leaders around the state about the value of NKY, and help drive the conversation in support of increasing shared services among local governments and other public agencies. For example, the NKY Chamber advocated for the recent upgrade of the region’s 911 emergency dispatch systems.

According to Cooper, “Where it makes sense, the NKY Chamber will openly support studying and moving forward with shared services that make it easier and more cost-effective for local governments and others to serve the community. We are also advocating for the State of Kentucky to remove barriers to collaboration.”


As with memberships, attendance at the many events sponsored by the NKY Chamber is also growing, including Eggs ‘N Issues, the NKY Chamber’s annual dinner, Women’s Initiative, legislative events and more.

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce works with partners, volunteers and civic leaders to promote events such as BLINK, the NKY International Festival, Kentucky’s Edge and the Bourbon Barrel project.

According to Board Chair Dan Cahill, President of HSD Metrics, “The NKY Chamber’s quality programming is one of the reasons attendance is up over 40 percent the past 2 years. These programs are not only great networking events that help members connect, they are also important community conversations that are making a real impact on the region.

The NKY Chamber is also strengthening relationships with the various multi-cultural Chamber’s of Commerce throughout the Greater Cincinnati/NKY region.

According to Cooper, “Many don’t realize that we are regularly doing joint programming with a variety of regional organizations, including the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, the African American Chamber, the European American Chamber, Japan America Society, Chinese Chamber, Hispanic Chamber and the Indian American Chamber. We are working collaboratively throughout the region on everything from talent attraction to economic development.”

Other efforts to engage the broader community include reaching out and including six other regional counties – Grant, Gallatin, Pendleton, Owen, Carroll and Bracken Counties – in its advocacy and engagement efforts.

“Those counties have some major employers like Nucor Steel in Gallatin County and attractions, the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and the Ark Encounter in Grant County,” Cooper said. “Those communities make our region a richer and more inviting place to live, work, visit and do business.”

The NKY Chamber’s impact around NKY can be seen throughout the region.

“When you see art decorated bourbon barrels, local news promoting the region, regional and bipartisan get out the vote efforts, Leadership development and young professionals coming together, festivals such as the upcoming International Festival, Kentucky’s Edge and Blink, and events that foster important community conversations, just know that your NKY Chamber played a role,” said Cooper.  “We don’t do anything by ourselves. We work collaboratively with partners, volunteers, and civic leaders in making those things happen. If it promotes business growth and an improved economy in NKY, we’re there. That’s what we do.”


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One Comment

  1. Roger A says:

    Any of that 18%, how many are non-profits?

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