FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: PAT FREW 859-431-1500, EXT 10
Covington, KY/August 17, 2023—Respondents in the latest Annual Covington Business Council member survey site economic climate and hiring qualified workers as immediate concerns although they are twice as likely to believe growth is ahead versus hardship.
Hight Performance Group, a national respected Austin, TX management consulting group helping associations and nonprofits operate and serve stakeholders more effectively was commissioned by CBC to gain insights on issues affecting Covington businesses and identify suggested priorities for the Council’s 2024-26 strategic plan.
Among the findings gleaned from the 212 respondents:
As it relates to the CBC’s effectiveness:
In addition, nearly 20 community and industry leaders were interviewed by telephone about the top three challenges facing Covington in the next three years. As a result, what opportunities/initiatives could be leveraged to make the biggest difference for Covington. The final question was to describe the image of the Covington Business Council. In summation, here’s what the leaders specifically cited:
1. Covington’s main challenge will be Maintaining Economic Competitiveness with key themes being Redevelopment For Future Growth, Infrastructure Investment and Mobility, Attainable and Affordable Housing and Public Education For Future Talent. The leaders feel positive about the myriad of economic development projects planned (Covington Central Riverfront, 1 NKY Center and the Sims Building for entrepreneurs) and are reassured that the City will continue to grow. But they are concerned investment is needed in aging infrastructure (above and below ground) and in turn what effect that will have on traffic flow and commerce. The lack of income-based housing contributes to homelessness making it difficult for service sector employees to live and work in Covington and makes it more difficult to attract and retain young professionals.
The respondents are also worried about the public education system and a reputation it feels it has developed for high property taxes, low performance outcomes and declining enrollment as families have left the City for other options. Some interviewees stressed the need for better collaboration among regional chambers, economic development entities and municipalities.
2. The most frequently shared response to the question of opportunities and initiatives to address challenges for Covington centered on Positioning Covington as the Place to Be with themes being Effective Mobility and Connectivity, Business Growth, Modern Housing Options, Sustainable City Revenue and Education Collaboration. Leaders want strategic management of infrastructure and redevelopment projects including attention paid to traffic flow along major routes, pedestrian sidewalks, maintaining the street grid, wayfinding and maintaining and connecting neighborhood communities. They said the Central Riverfront Project needs to attract several developers to build varying commercial and resident options to attract diverse businesses, workers and residents. Private/public partnerships, incentives and grants were encouraged as ways to maximize this. They encouraged the City to construct bold strategies to increase revenue and reduce the tax burden to sustain community growth. Balancing the occupational tax on employers with increasing revenue through a local sales or limited use tax, advocating for legislative tax restructuring and sharing services with Kenton County to reduce duplication were suggested remedies.
3. In addressing the CBC’s image and how it could be more effective, more than half the leaders described the Council’s image as positive being respected, active, supportive of Covington businesses and offering good information and speakers through its public programming as well as the business connections provided for member companies. Several people interviewed, however, felt that CBC should be more of a voice of influence and have more of an advocacy role advancing the interests of Covington. Things like being a convener among entities and its members, an encourager of local and regional collaboration and provide resources to help businesses address their challenges and achieve success. They concluded by saying CBC can live that out by working more closely with groups like Educate NKY, the City and county, the NKY Chamber and others and to be a liaison with policymakers at all levels of government on business policies, community issues and infrastructure projects.
The CBC greatly appreciates the insights of its members and will use these results to drive our strategic plan which will be finalized in the coming months. It is imperative to our organization that we not only ask your valued opinions but create a series of programs, activities and principles that implement many of those ideas. Finally, as promised the CBC offered an incentive to survey takers-the chance to win a $100 Kroger gas gift card. In a random electronic drawing, the winner was Doug Goodwin of the Center for Work Performance. Congratulations Doug!