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Keene: Partnerships for Economic Growth & Recovery

This is an editorial written by State Representative Dennis Keene (D-Wilder).

I was invited by the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to participate in a conference call last Wednesday morning with Gene Sperling, Director of the National Economic Council and David Agnew, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and other state legislators regarding a new focus on our country’s economic recovery efforts.

It was encouraging to hear plans to shift attention from partisan blame and rhetoric to investing in real ideas, projects and partnerships at the local and state level to accomplish tangible results and get our economy rolling.

Mr. Sperling and Mr. Agnew said that we – state legislators, local elected officials, business and education leaders and our Chambers of Commerce – need to become the catalysts for this kind of change at the grass roots level.

The cornerstones of this initiative are impressive and dovetail right into projects underway in Northern Kentucky.  Those goals include secure jobs with promotional opportunities, a good education that fits the job market, home ownership and security, and reinvestment in our communities and cities.

Thanks to partnerships with our Chamber of Commerce, private individuals, businesses, governmental agencies and non-profits, we are a step ahead of the nation in creating jobs, providing housing and new commerce in our region.

The Newport Pavilion is a shining example of our collective efforts and is one of the most prominent urban shopping centers in Kentucky, attracting visitors from all over Kentucky and Ohio while creating hundreds of jobs.

Great anchor retailers like Kroger Marketplace and Target have helped encourage other national chain stores – Mattress Firm, Ulta and PetSmart – to open in the Newport Pavilion and BW3’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Chipotle Mexican Grill are slated to open this fall and winter.

Just last month we held a groundbreaking for Monmouth Row, another key project in Newport’s revitalization efforts.  This $10 million project will house 102 upscale apartments attracting a mix of retirees and young professionals to our downtown area.

Work on the first step of our exciting Riverfront Commons project, which will link six Northern Kentucky cities along the Ohio River, is underway.  The 11.5-mile walking and cycling path will connect Fort Thomas, Dayton, Bellevue, Newport, Covington and Ludlow and will include ramps, steps and a bridge that extends east from the Purple People Bridge across the Newport Port of Entry.  This path will give greater access to restaurants, entertainment attractions and great events at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center.

The Nth Degree Distillery, located a short distance from Newport on the Levee, is currently being constructed by the Party Source in Bellevue Kentucky. This mini distillery is the first to be located in Northern Kentucky and will provide meeting space for groups up to 150. Tours showcasing the distilling process and relate activities will begin November 2013.

Northern Kentucky is literally exploding with projects that are reinventing our waterfront, defining our cityscapes, creating real job markets and providing hope and opportunity for our residents.

We know how to cast aside partisan and political preferences and focus on what’s important to us as Kentuckians and Americans. We know how important grass roots collaborations are when it comes to getting things done and the exciting things happening in Northern Kentucky bear that out.

I was honored to be part of the conversation with White House officials and so proud that we have capitalized upon our great relationships, partnerships and ingenuity to find a way out of the recession toward a path to prosperity.


Representative Dennis Keene has served the citizens of the 67th District since 2005 and is the chairman of the House Licensing and Occupations Committee, Vice Chairman of Economic Development, Vice Chairman on the Budget Subcommittee on Transportation and a member of the Banking & Insurance Committee.  Keene is a small business owner and an economic development advisor for EGC Construction.

Photo: Dennis Kenne