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Covington Business Council’s Pat Frew talks about the 50-years of the business advocacy group

By Andy Furman
NKyTribune reporter

He hails from Ohio.

But he loves the Bluegrass.

Pat Frew, Executive Director of the Covington Business Council lives in Madeira – but does his best work in Northern Kentucky.

“I’ve been with the CBC since 2010,” he told the Covington Rotary Club Tuesday afternoon, “and have seen membership grow from 130 to about 460 members.”

Pat Frew

And Frew mentioned that the year 2022 is a monumental one in the history of the CBC.

“The organization turns 50 years old,” he said.

On April 14, 1972, a group of influential Covington business leaders – including banker Ralph Haile – felt the need to revitalize the urban core with the flourishing of the shopping mall movement causing a variety of businesses to move to Florence and elsewhere in Northern Kentucky suburbs.

“In the early ‘70s,” Frew told the assembled lunch crowd, “stores like Sears and Montgomery Ward migrated to the Florence Mall. “Covington was hurting and something needed to be done.”

Prior to the CBC, Frew said a group called CURE — Covington Urban Redevelopment Effort – was formed.

“The CBC,” Frew said, “was officially formed in 1979. “In fact,” he added, “after CURE a group called ACT was started – to once again bring life and economic development to Covington.”

And if you’ve read this far, you’re probably asking, “What exactly is the Covington Business Council?”

“We’re an advocate,” Frew said. “Our mission is to aid the business climate in Covington. We just felt things had to get better when I started.”

They did – and Frew uses three words that describe his success.

Access. Opportunity. Growth.

“Our big turn-around came in the mid ‘90s,” he said. “That was the formation of the Convention Center.”

Frew makes it a point to mention the Covington Business Council is independent of the City of Covington.

And, he adds, member businesses don’t necessarily have to be located in Covington.

In fact, he says only about 45% of the total membership have businesses located in Covington.

“About 28 percent of our membership is from Northern Kentucky and 25 percent from Ohio,” he said.

Businesses owned by women account for about 15 percent of the CBC total, Frew said, and about 16 members own African-American businesses, which total three percent.

There are seven LGBTQ businesses as CBC members as well.

“We try to create an environment that is helpful to our customers,” Frew said. “And attractive.”

He notes that more than 70 flower-pots and plants now grace Madison Avenue between Third and Seventh Streets, as a service of the CBC.

“We host more than 100 networking and educational events annually as well,” he said.

When asked what difference is there between the Covington Business Council and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Frew was quick to say: “We like to think that we can do things here at the CBC differently from anyone else while serving our customers as well as the City of Covington.”

Covington is actually exploding these days – Hotel Covington is expanding and that should be ready with a new ballroom come the Fall.

The Baker-Hunt Art and Cultural Center – located on Greenup Street – is celebrating its 100-year anniversary in 2022, The Point/Arc is 50 years old and The Metropolitan Club turns 35 in 2022.

The Covington Business Council – like the City of Covington – has come a long way in those 50 years.

Pat Frew has also come a long way from his tiny Village of Scio, Ohio to make a presence in the Bluegrass.

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