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Center for Great Neighborhoods offering free tax preparation in Covington


The Center for Great Neighborhoods offers free tax preparation every year for low-to-moderate income households in Covington to help them make sense of their tax forms.
 
Last year, 940 families received help from the Center with their taxes, and more than $1.2 million was refunded to those families.
 
The Center sponsors an IRS-certified Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site as part of a collaboration with the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, which is also leading efforts to educate local taxpayers about the Earned Income Tax Credit and offering free assistance to low-income residents who want to file taxes online.

Read the full Soapbox story here.
 

NKY smoking rates continue to be concern for health officials


Northern Kentucky streets and sidewalks are consistently littered with discarded cigarette butts. The volume of smokers in Kentucky ranks the state as third in the nation, and Northern Kentucky contributes heavily to that.

Twenty-seven percent of Kenton County residents use cigarettes, including high school and middle school students.

“We have a long rich history of growing tobacco in Kentucky. Even though that's not the number-one crop in Kentucky, the historical knowledge and influence that it has had is still very prevalent for us today,” said Stephanie Vogle, Director of Population Health for the Northern Kentucky Health Department. “We hear about people being sent to college from their parents growing tobacco. They may still have plots of tobacco. You have that particular piece that plays quite a bit into why we in this region smoke more.”

Campaigns against smoking, citing the serious health risks associated with cigarettes, are ubiquitous. Here, the Northern Kentucky Health Department has teamed up with other like-minded organizations to form the Tobacco Prevention Coalition of Northern Kentucky.

Read the full River City News story here.
 

In Newport, plans to heal an east-west divide


The east-west divide doesn't stop at the Ohio River. Just like Cincinnati, Newport is divided between east and west — the east being more upscale and the west more impoverished.

It surprised Monica Remmy nine years ago when she bought a 150-year-old home on Newport's West Side.

"This is the most divided small city I've seen in my life, between the haves and have-nots," Remmy said. "There's just a lot of antagonization that goes back and forth from both directions."

Now a group of residents hopes to change that. The group, known as ReNewport, will unveil a 35-page plan Thursday that will outline a decade's worth of improvements. It will focus on six areas; economic development; housing; education; community engagement; parks and recreation; and health, wellness and safety.

Read the full Cincinnati Enquirer story here.

 

Wow: Possible designs for Covington's riverfront emerge


Without question, the City of Covington has lagged behind its neighbors in terms of attracting residents and visitors to its riverfront. Across the Ohio River is the booming Banks of Cincinnati, where corporations are constructing new office towers, where the Reds and Bengals play in new stadiums, where new restaurants and apartments are rising and, most compelling, where Smale Park attracts families, visitors, and tourists to its sprawling green space with playgrounds and water features.

Smale also offers a view of the mostly vacant Covington shore.

But that is about to change, as Covington City Commission revealed Feb. 23 the possible plans for what the city's riverfront could become.

The vision: to elevate Covington's riverfront as a vibrant civic asset and vital component of a unified regional riverfront. That's how it was explained by Ryan Geismar, an associate at Human Nature, the Cincinnati-based firm that works in the design of public spaces, including significant work on landmark projects in the Queen City like Smale Park and Washington Park, and helped the City of Covington develop a master plan for Devou Park in 2007.

Read the full River City News story and see designs here.
 

How Florence-based Kona Ice became a national household name


The tale of how his daughter’s bad experience with an ice cream truck vendor planted the seed for Tony Lamb to found Kona Ice has been shared many times. There is a lot more to the story, however, of how the Walton entrepreneur turned that unfortunate encounter into shaved-ice gold.

At the time, Lamb was working out of Louisville as a contract marketing consultant and was on the road five or six days a week.

He was making good money but just wasn’t happy about being away from his wife and four children for long stretches. The upside to spending so much time in the car, however, was that he had plenty of time to think.

Read the full Northern Kentucky Tribune story here.
 

ADM chooses Northern Kentucky for tech talent


Archer Daniels Midland Co. (ADM) needed to increase investment in technology, as it was key to supporting the company’s growth strategies.

“The decision on where to locate our new technology center rested heavily on where we could find the talent,” explains Marty Schoenthaler, ADM’s chief information officer. 

Northern Kentucky was on ADM’s radar as it ranked third in a location search commissioned by the company.

Any evaluation of workforce talent must take into consideration both current skills levels and a future talent pipeline. With companies such as P&G, Toyota and GE located in the region, the skill level of the area was high.

“When you have an established pool of large multinational companies, experienced technical talent is attracted to the area,” says Schoenthaler.

There was also a lot of home-grown talent with more than 49 universities, colleges and technical schools located in the Greater Cincinnati metro area. The total enrollment for these academic institutions is nearly 300,000 with more than 51,000 graduates seeking advanced degrees.

Read the full Industry Week story here.
 

Mubea develops future workforce with apprentices


When Matt Ryan was younger, he wanted to become a rock star.

“I still want to be a rock star,” said Ryan, now 21, of Hebron. So three years ago, right out of Conner High School, he hired on at Mubea in Florence.

“I needed a real job with commensurate pay and I found Mubea’s apprentice program had all the qualifications,” Ryan said.

In fact, Ryan was one of nine December 2015 graduates of Mubea’s three-year program, which linked up with Gateway Community and Technical College’s general studies and led him to an associate’s degree in electrical engineering and a solid job. Mubea paid for all his time at Gateway, including books and tuition, while he continued a strenuous work schedule at Mubea’s plant in Florence.

“This (electrical technical work) is a big field, and I think, wow, I’m started,” Ryan said.

Currently, 31 apprentices are enrolled at various stages of the program. This July, 10 more will start. All spend part of their time at Gateway and part at one of Mubea’s campus of locations in Boone County. Mubea North America pays the entire tab – schooling plus an hourly wage – and offers apprentices a chance to spend up to three months at the company’s facilities in Germany.

Read the full Cincinnati Enquirer story here.
 

Bad Girl Ventures welcomes first Launch class of eight startups


Bad Girl Ventures (BGV) welcomed its first Launch class last week, part of the Covington business accelerator organization’s revamped three-tier Explore, Launch and Grow programming.
 
“We had over 50 applicants for the class,” BGV Executive Director Nancy Aichholz says. “Our volunteer selection committee chose the class based on stringent criteria. The eight companies represent completely different industries. They’re energetic and engaged, and we’re excited about them.”

The 18-week program began last week. Since all of the participants are also running their companies, classes are offered alternating weeks with the off week providing time to do homework and meet with mentors.

Read the Soapbox story here.
 

Skyward rolls out LiveWell NKY to improve health outcomes


Skyward recently implemented a community-wide initiative that aims to improve the health of Northern Kentucky residents, LiveWell NKY.

Skyward, formerly known as Vision 2015, is responsible for developing and managing Northern Kentucky’s strategic plan, myNKY. After months of intensive research and feedback from the community, Skyward found that health was a major concern in the community — so it became one of the plan’s four main focus areas.

“Kentucky overall comes in 47th out of 50 states in health outcomes,” Skyward President Bill Scheyer says. “That number clearly sets the stage for raising the health level of people in Northern Kentucky. It’s not that there is no culture of good health, but a culture of poor health.”

Read the full Soapbox story here.
 

CVG collecting stories to remember Terminals 1 and 2 before demolition


The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport is asking the community to share stories and photos from memories of Terminals 1 and 2. The terminals will be demolished this year to make way for the construction of a new car rental facility, which should be completed by 2021.
 
The terminals, which were built in 1947 and 1974 respectively, are functionally obsolete. Terminal 1 served airline passengers until 2007, and Terminal 2 was in use until 2012. Now only Terminal 3, which is CVG’s main terminal, serves airline passengers.
 
CVG is searching for stories about the terminals, whether someone welcomed a son or daughter home from combat, got engaged, told their family they were pregnant or visited Cincinnati for the first time. All stories are important.

Read the full Soapbox story here.
 

Center for Great Neighborhoods launches Healthy Corner Store Initiative


The Center for Great Neighborhoods recently launched the Healthy Corner Store Initiative to give Covington residents access to healthy food choices.
 
The Center is partnering with Kenton County Plan4Health (KCP4H) and four corner stores — Kimmy’s Korner, Bill’s Food Mart, Gutierrez Deli and Bob’s Food Market — to increase the amount of fresh, frozen and canned fruits and vegetables available for Covington residents. The stores were chosen based on the amount of families living below the poverty level in the area and the stores’ proximity to local schools.

Read the full Soapbox story here.
 

Rebuilding, artfully, in Kentucky


The national website of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has a section called "Our Stories" to share examples of successful community-building efforts from its 30-plus offices across the U.S. The local story featured last week was "Rebuilding, Artfully, in Kentucky" and covered the amazing work LISC Cincinnati has done in Covington in partnership with the Center for Great Neighborhoods.

"More and more, community developers are using arts and culture, so integral to the character and identity of a flourishing place, to catalyze neighborhood renewal," national writer Alina Tugend says in her introduction. "In Covington, Ky., this kind of creative placemaking has helped brighten and invigorate communities that have struggled with blight, crime and abandonment, particularly the city’s Westside area. Today, Covington has more welcoming public spaces, affordable homes and new businesses than since its 20th-century heyday as the iron fence capital of the world."

Read the full story on the national LISC website here.
 

Meet UpTech's newest graduates


Covington-based informatics startup accelerator UpTech graduated its latest class on Feb. 4, with eight startups pitching to a sold-out crowd in the organization's fourth demo day.

UpTech provides its companies with six months of mentoring, office space, access to service providers and customers and $50,000 in equity investment. It's backed by Duke Energy, PNC Bank, CBTS, the city of Covington and the state of Kentucky.

Read prior NKY Thrives coverage of UpTech here.

Read the full Cincinnati Business Courier story and see demo day photos here.
 

Plans for $24 million Dayton Riverfront Commons project revealed


Cincinnati-based KZF architecture and engineering design firm has revealed the design plans for a riverfront project in Dayton that is part of the Riverfront Commons Trail. Eric Anderson of KZF presented renderings of the riverfront walkway and answered questions about the plans during a recent public meeting in Dayton.

Dayton’s unique riverfront design plans incorporate the entire riverfront shoreline from the Bellevue-Dayton border of O’Fallon Avenue east to the Route 8 entrance of the Ohio River floodwall. Once the project is completed, the pathway will connect the river cities of Dayton, Bellevue, Newport, Covington, Ludlow and Fort Thomas, a walking/biking/running artery known as the Riverfront Commons Trail.

“The Riverfront Commons project showcases Dayton’s desire to provide our citizens with easier and safer access to economic hubs in the region through means of alternative transportation,” said Dayton City Manager Michael Giffen. “At the same time, projects like this will bring people from all over the region to Dayton, which allows us to highlight the strong economic opportunities here, both residential and commercial. It also doesn’t hurt that this project will provide beautiful scenic views of the river, new development and other features unique to Dayton.”

Read the full Northern Kentucky Tribune story here.
 

Federal Express details plans of $150 million NKY expansion


New details are emerging about FedEx’s plan to expand its Northern Kentucky hub in Independence.

The package delivery service wants to purchase 80 acres of land to construct a 355,000-square-foot expansion on its existing distribution center, according to a report released by the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority. It expects the project will cost $150 million, with $7 million spent on land, $70 million spent on the building and improvements and $73 million spent on equipment.

The expansion would create 62 new jobs with an average salary of $50,600, and the company says it’s necessary to manage a projected increase in package volume and provide relief for a nearby hub that’s reaching capacity.

Read the full Cincinnati Business Courier story here.
 
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