Raising thoroughbreds is just what Kentucky does.
But it wasn't about horse races at the 2012 Northern Kentucky Thoroughbreds ceremony. It wasn't even about competition.
At the annual celebration, the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Tri-ED) officially recognized 28 new and expanding businesses notable for their contribution to the area. In total, Thoroughbred businesses added 2,839 new jobs in Northern Kentucky and added $202,488,896 to the economy. Included in this amount are total sales from these companies that came in at $497,683,197, while the businesses' employees earned $131,804,517.
Attendees at the event say Northern Kentucky's continuing growth isn't happenstance. The region's geographical situation as well as the economic amenities it provides has been a draw for numerous businesses -- and, for those already established in the area, a reason to stay.
"There's something for everyone," says Rebecca Volpe, business recruitment and retention manager for Covington, Ky. "A whole group of professionals and residents want to help."
Chris Mains of ViaCord LLC sees the advantages as twofold.
ViaCord, based in Boone County, relies heavily on CVG. The company specializes in all stages of stem cell treatment for otherwise fatal afflictions, so timeliness is essential.
"The airport is prime," Mains says. "[The cells] have to be here within 48 hours of a baby's birth."
Northern Kentucky's proximity to both the countryside and a major urban area is also a huge draw personally as a worker in the region, says Mains, who just built a home in Petersburg.
"It's country — it's serene," he says. "But it's 15 minutes away from the city."
Northern Kentucky's central location makes it valuable for businesses like Post Glover Resistors, says the company's president Richard Field.
"We can reach the majority of the manufacturing base [in the U.S.] within a day," Field says. "The area's developing well. There's still good potential to grow — and there's more changes here than the rest of the state."
Kevin Beckerich, also of Post Glover, a Northern Kentucky native, appreciate the room to grow the region affords.
"Boone [County's] advantage was that it wasn't developed for so long that it's easy to expand," Beckerich says. "It's not a landlocked urban area. If the airport wants to expand, it can without disruption."
Post Glover, which is set to consolidate its Ohio- and Northern Kentucky-based workload into a single area, is slated to create 19 new jobs at the new centralized location and pump approximately $5 million into Kentucky.
All of that aside, Mains says the area's willingness to help just-starting and expanding companies helps Northern Kentucky maintain a reputation for being the place to bring a business.
"The area itself is reasonable," he says. "People with real estate are willing to work with businesses for sure — and in today's age, money's an issue."
Indeed, taking everything into consideration, Northern Kentucky's growth stands as a testament that a region's economic fate isn't necessarily tied to national trends.
Final tallies for capital investment, which came in at $434 million, and private investment, which amounted to $15.3 million, were the fourth highest in Tri-ED's history and double the figures from 2010, respectively, according to Steve Arlinghaus, chairman of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED and Kenton County Judge Executive.
Under the high ceilings and spotlights of the Northern Kentucky University METS Center's banquet hall, the ceremony became something more like a commemoration than an awards show: a gathering of men and women who persevered in a challenging economy, succeeded, and in doing so bolstered the strength of an entire region.
In so many words, any success in Northern Kentucky is a success to everyone tied to the region. City and county leaders, medical professionals, bankers, treasurers and corporate leaders are all affiliated with Northern Kentucky and, subsequently, to the businesses given the award.
"We're here together," says Dan Tobergte, president and CEO of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED. "It's a team effort."
Arlinghaus highlighted Tri-ED's efforts, reiterating the group's dedication to business over politics.
"We're here to remove barriers where we can," he says. "Tri-ED has paid off big for this region."
The companies honored as 2012 Thoroughbreds are:
ALPLA, Inc.: Established an in-house bottling manufacturing operation in Northern Kentucky in conjunction with L'Oreal USA. With approximately 12,000 employees worldwide at 134 production plants in 37 countries, ALPLA produces bottles, preforms, caps and tubes for products associated with beverages, food, beauty care, home care and oil/lubricants.
Club Chef LLC: Completed a 42,000-square-foot expansion of the refrigerated receiving, production, and shipping areas of its Northern Kentucky facility. The project increased production capacity by 20 percent. The facility is one of the largest fresh fruit and vegetable processing facilities in the United States and employs close to 500 people.
DHL CVG Hub's South Ramp Expansion project: Adds 19 acres of aircraft apron, which is 18 inches thick, to the Boone County operations of the DHL CVG Hub. The expanded area includes parking for nine additional wide-body aircraft with hydrant fueling and the capability to de-ice in each gate. The $22 million expansion assists DHL in connecting the United States to points in Asia, Europe, Canada, Mexico and Latin America.
The Dynamic Catholic Institute: Will be relocating their office and distribution operations from Ohio to Kentucky, and will establish a 23,000-square-foot facility to allow for growth in warehousing, fulfillment and office needs.
Ferrous 85" Co.: Constructing a building at IPSCO's Wilder facility to accommodate Ferragon Corporation's steel slitting operation.
HealthWarehouse.com: Relocated its headquarters and on-line pharmacy operations into a 62,000-square-foot Florence-based facility in July. Revenues have grown from $67,000 in 2007 to $10 million in annualized sales of 2011. HealthWarehouse.com is projected to create 224 jobs as a result of their expansion.
Johnson Power Solutions Florence Poly Operations: Expanding its Boone County facility, creating 45 new jobs. The company's $24.2 million investment will increase the plant's square footage to accommodate additional production lines and warehousing space. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of Johnson Controls, Inc. (JCI).
Linamar Manufacturing Group America: Plans to purchase new equipment totaling $40.8 million and will more than double the size of its workforce, creating 138 new jobs. Linamar utilizes CNC machinery and leading-edge automation to machine engine components for their customers.
Magna-Tech Manufacturing: Located in Northern Kentucky in order to serve their customers in this area and to increase their level of service to other companies. The company is a provider of the sealing of cast metal and electronic components and vacuum impregnation services.
Meaningful Use Technologies LLC and Korean-based Arcron Systems Inc.: Establishing their U.S. headquarters in Newport to serve the North American markets. The information technology companies together will create 20 new jobs and invest a total of more than $1 million in Northern Kentucky.
Messier-Bugatti USA: Activities at the Walton plant, which has 200 employees, include production and refurbishment of carbon brake disks, as well as production of wheels and brakes for civil and military customers in the Americas. The company is a subsidiary of Messier-Bugatti-Dowty (Safran Group), the world leader in aircraft landing and braking systems.
Mubea: Expanding at its Kenton County/Elsmere Stabilizer Bars Facility. The project will significantly increase capabilities so the plant can produce the volume of parts required and also allow the company to transfer the production of these products to Northern Kentucky from the Czech Republic. Mubea is a leading supplier of highly technical components to the automotive industry and intends to install the first cold rolling mill of this type in North America at the Disc Spring Division, which will allow Mubea to offer state-of-the-art technology to the automotive industry.
OMEGA Processing Solutions LLC: Expanding its headquarters and operations in Fort Thomas and will create 25 new jobs. Founded in 2003, OMEGA is a credit and debit card processing company owned by CEO Scott Anderson and President Todd McHugh. The company is recognized in the 2011 Inc. Magazine’s 500/5000 List, "The Emerging 30" top businesses by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and as a finalist in The Goering Center for Private and Family Business through the University of Cincinnati.
PAMARCO Global Graphics (PGG): Manufactures cylinder bases at its Walton facility which are then further customized at the company’s other United States and United Kingdom facilities. The geographically centralized location of PGG’s Walton manufacturing facility allows the efficient production of superior-quality base cylinders for both internal use and external sale.
Post Glover Resistors: Consolidating Ohio-based and Northern Kentucky-based operations into one larger facility in the Northern Kentucky area, creating 19 new jobs in the region. The expansion will entail a nearly $5 million investment in the Commonwealth.
Schwan’s Global Supply Chain, Inc.: The company's 400,000-square-foot Schwan plant in Boone County makes frozen pizzas under brand names including Tony's, Red Baron and Freschetta. It also makes products for Schwan's home delivery service and for schools, hospitals and other institutional customers.
Steinert US: Expanded in Walton into a 36,000-square-foot facility and is expected to create six new jobs. Steinert Elektromagnetbau GmbH isthe global leader in separation technology solutions for the scrap, waste, and mining industries.
The Party Source: Construction is underway in Newport on one of the largest microdistilleries to date. Plans call for the inclusion of a 60-foot column still similar to those in use in Kentucky’s heritage distilleries. The distillery/event center is designed as a tourist destination and will be used for educational and tasting events and is part of the company’s plan to create a "campus of activity" in Northern Kentucky. The project is expected to create 11 jobs.
TiER1 Performance Solutions: Signed a 10-year lease for 12,500-square-feet of space on the ground floor of Corporex's RiverCenter II in Covington, which will provide more efficient space, designed specifically for the company's uses, with room to grow. TiER1 helps large organizations improve performance through learning, change, knowledge and talent management. Revenue at the fast-growing company climbed from $4 million in 2008 to over $9 million in 2011.
TMK IPSCO: Constructed a "thread shop" facility at their present facility in Campbell County. TMK IPSCO is one of the largest North American producers of welded and seamless pipe and premium connections dedicated to service the oil and gas industry and many industrial markets.
Tokyo Boeki North America Inc.: Relocated its sales and service support office to Florence, given Northern Kentucky's proximity to major auto manufacturers as well as the area's efficient transportation system and resources. The company provides custom designed 3D coordinate measuring machine (CMM) sales and services.
Verst Group Logistics: Producing light manufacturing products for a Fortune 500 Company and a related expansion of their transportation division.
ViaCord LLC: Expanded their lab in 2011 with the most state-of-the art clean room, cryopreservation and storage facility possible. The expansion resulted in an investment of $500,000 and five new employees. ViaCord has been a critical part of the region’s life science community since entering the Northern Kentucky market in 2003.
WAYFAIR: Establishing an approximately 155,370-square-foot Kentucky Distribution Center to increase capacity. Headquartered in Boston, Mass., Wayfair is a top-three online U.S. retailer comprised of more than 250 different shopping sites under the csnstores.com umbrella.
2011 Northern Kentucky Thoroughbred Awardees
Steve Arlinghaus, Chairman, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED Board and Kenton County Judge Executive