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Kenton County Turns to Outside Experts for Economic Development Efforts

Kenton County is taking a unique approach to enhancing its economic development efforts.
On Tuesday night, at its meeting in Independence, the Fiscal Court approved a relationship with Cintrifuse - the Cincinnati-based entrepreneurial resource hub - and KMK Consulting to maximize the economic development potential in the county.
"We wanted to evaluate the county's needs," Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann said. Kenton County issued a request for proposals from interested parties to lead the new effort. An advisory committee was formed to look over the responses, and the result was to combine the two best fits: Cintrifuse and KMK.
Chad Summe, who served on the advisory committee, said combining the two companies' efforts would create a dynamic economic development package.  
Patrick Henshaw, from Cintrifuse, will be the county's consultant, and he talked about accessing venture capital and accelerating growth within the county. Jim McGraw, from KMK, told the fiscal court about the opportunity to bring a growing company to Northern Kentucky, and make the area into a place where technology experts want to come to work and live.
Commissioner Joe Nienaber liked the approach.
"The knowledge based economy will be bringing in higher income jobs," Nienaber said. "When that happens, the property tax rates get to stay that way. But it doesn't happen on its own. We have to take an aggressive approach. I think this is a great idea."
Commissioner Beth Sewell asked how to boil the project down simply so that residents understand what the goals are and how tax money is being spent on it. The answer was not forthcoming, but Nienaber said that any area that really wants to grow should have a team that simultaneously creates a living and working environment with low tax rates and inviting homes while leaders aggressively search for companies that would grow here. 
The fiscal court voted to spend $150,000 for the combination of the two companies to work for the economic development of the county, plus $50,000 till next June when they will vote on renewing contracts.
Other notes:
Commissioners voted to approve a local development area agreement relating to the tax increment financing district known as the Walton Industrial Park Local Development area within the city of Walton.
The court also voted in favor of the improvement of Goshorn Road located in unincorporated Kenton County.
A third ordinance passed related to the amendment and reenactment of Chapter 90 of the Kenton County Code of Ordinances regulating animals.
Commissioners also passed the consent agreement to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding between the Fiscal courts of Boone, Campbell, and Kenton Counties to memorialize a joint understanding relating to the design, bidding, construction and implementation of an 80 megahertz public Safety Communication System.    
The county will also seek appraisal services for properties located adjacent to the Bavarian Brewery building which the county purchased for the purposes of renovating and relocating the government. Additionally, the county will seek an appraisal service for the Independence courthouse, which is also to be renovated. Assistant County Administrator Scott Gunning reported on the building assessment of the Independence courthouse, and said that there was a lot more maintenance than they had anticipated. The total estimated cost for the maintenance will be $2.4 million, over the $170,000 budgeted for the project. Gunning said they will probably prioritize the  items, and work first on the roof and the moisture problem. Commissioners also voted to authorize a campus study for the Independence site, not to exceed $25,000, and the commission specified that the money come out of the $170,000.
Police Chief Spike Jones told about the Instant Response Team that has been initiated as a pilot program within the county. The team consists of a police officer, a paramedic, and a substance abuse counselor who identify the person who has recently suffered an overdose, and then make a visit to them. This is not an arrest visit but a visit to tell the person and his family if he/she lives with family about alternative treatment so they can get into a program.  
"An addict is making bad decisions," Jones said. "This is a public health crisis, and the hope is to get them to try and get into a program to beat the addiction. Colerain Township has had some success with a similar program, and so far it is being accepted well here. Hopefully we can reduce deaths and provide education. We will still, however, aggressively go after dealers."
Director of the Public Works Nick Hendrix gave an update on the progress of the first phase of the project at Anderson Road. He said the final design plans came in well over the parameters for the grant, which, when totaled, was over $6 million. The project is slated for construction in February of 2019, but when they realized the design plans were so far over budget they decided to go back to the design team to see if the plans could be reworked to fit in better with the scope and budget. The Fiscal Court is partnering with the federal government,  and the Cities of Ft. Mitchell and Crescent Springs on the project.
Tax rates were presented at the meeting for the Kenton County Library at 11.3 cents per $100 for real property and 19.7 cents per $100 for personal property, which represents the same rate for the last six years. Piner Fire District and Kenton fire District each had a rate of .20 cents per $100, which is the same that they have had.
Brooklyn Smith, the young Erlanger resident fighting an especially severe form of childhood cancer, was present with her parents, Nick and Brittany, to acknowledge that September 15 will be Childhood Cancer Awareness Day in Kenton County. After Judge/Executive Knochelmann presented them with the proclamation, he asked Brooklyn if she would like to say anything. She took the mic, and told the audience, "Keep believing, and never give up!"
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor