Newport's strategic outlook nets results for city and region

For the last decade or so, corporate development in Newport has been concentrated primarily along the riverfront and I-471. And while those areas continue to enjoy momentum, the focus shifted inward last month, when Fairfield-based Ethos Laboratories announced plans to renovate a 30,000-square-foot facility in the heart of the Monmouth Street business district.

Ethos plans to invest $2.6M in the project and create 45 jobs.
 
The building at 30 E. Sixth Street -- previously owned by Trauth Dairy -- will soon house a state-of-the-art lab dedicated to testing, research, and production related to toxicology and pain management. Ethos is a recognized leader in laboratory services nationwide, and its Newport facility will contribute significantly to a growing Northern Kentucky life sciences corridor that currently includes Wood Hudson Cancer Research Labs in Newport, bioLOGIC/Bexion Pharmaceuticals in Covington, PPD in Campbell County, and ViaCord in Boone County.
 
The life sciences connection was part of what prompted Newport to campaign for the project. 
 
"Our hope is that what bioLOGIC brought to Covington, Ethos will bring to Newport," says Karen Finan, senior vice president at Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corp. (Tri-ED). "The life sciences sector is one of Tri-ED's target industries. We intend to grow that sector, so when we identify companies of interest, like bioLOGIC or Ethos, we're able to surround them with the appropriate resources that will make them successful."
 
Newport rises above competition
 
Those drivers of success go beyond basic tax incentives and logistics capabilities. To compete with similarly-sized markets, cities like Newport must prove a commitment to progress -- in areas like shopping, dining, and entertainment – and meet the expectations of relocating urban professionals. 
 
Recent efforts to raise Newport's profile have been substantial. Bustling Newport Pavilion opened last year to enthusiastic response and is slated to welcome 12 new tenants this summer. Downtown, developers recently broke ground on Saratoga Flats, an upscale residential complex at Fifth and Monmouth Streets. And on the riverfront, a planned three-acre hotel and residential expansion promises to transform entertainment hub and front door to the region Newport on the Levee. 
 
Even more exciting projects in store for Newport include:
  • South Shore - Luxury residences featuring panoramic views of the Cincinnati skyline and Ohio River
  • VUE 180 - Amenities-packed rental units ranging from 630 to 1200 square feet and serving a variety of lifestyle needs
  • Nth Degree Brewery - Multi-million dollar bourbon distillery and event space from NKY's best-loved alcohol retailer, the Party Source
  • Ovation Riverfront Development – World-class business, retail, entertainment, and living complex on Newport's waterfront
  • IPSCO Site – 20 acres of real estate boasting a 49,000-square-foot facility and easy access to the forthcoming Ovation Riverfront Development
  • Expansions to KY State Route 9 – Plans to divert residential traffic and provide faster access through Newport's primary southern entry point
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare – New branch of respected care provider will offer emergency services, primary care and specialty physicians' offices, and radiology/imaging, among other services
 
When Newport City Manager Tom Fromme was called into early meetings between Ethos and Tri-ED, he came prepared to highlight the aforementioned and much more.
 
"We talked about Newport's central location and its walkability," Fromme says. "We brought up the fact that we're developing residential units that will put employees within walking distance to work. We talked about the Levee and our proximity to downtown and Covington. But things started really clicking once they visited and realized we were serious about offering the things they need."
 
Collaboration proves instrumental
 
The Ethos expansion -- which has been a year in the making -- is just one example of how great things happen when groups come together for a unified purpose. Early in the process, Tri-ED sought advice from Southbank Partners, whose Riverfront Commons project will soon connect all six riverfront communities by way of an 11.5-mile scenic walking and biking path.
 
"Having [Southbank president] Jack Moreland at the table, being able to articulate what was happening with Riverfront Commons and how it would impact Ethos' location on 6th Street, was important for the client to hear upfront," says Finan. Tri-ED also leveraged the expertise of the Catalytic Fund, whose involvement in bioLOGIC's move to Covington proved vital for identifying resources and calculating project costs for Ethos.
 
Ultimately, Northern Kentucky's communities added the most to the conversation, according to Finan. "All of those communities came to the table very prepared and with their ‘A-games' on," she says. "They were able to showcase their vast offerings, and in aggregate, that makes Northern Kentucky look very strong. Even though only one of those communities could ultimately get the project, I think as a whole, it made a very good impression."
 
City cherishes history, embraces change
 
Amid so much progress, Fromme and his team remain steadfast in their commitment to preserving Newport's 200-year history. Introducing change in a well-established community often requires sensitivity and finesse, and for that, Fromme relies on a team of planners who maintain strong ties within the community. 
 
Citing several smaller-scale initiatives -- from encouraging tenants along Monmouth Street to buy into façade improvement to consulting with neighborhood associations on difficult demolition decisions -- Fromme believes that the same deep roots and overriding friendliness that make Newport a great place to live also make it a logical choice for relocating and expanding businesses. 
 
"We're really easy to deal with -- we're not very bureaucratic," Fromme says. "It doesn't take much to meet with us and express an interest in starting a business. I bring in my staff, we talk a bit, and then we get things done. As a city, we have a great relationship with Tri-ED and a lot of good things in the works. I think we're going to be busy for a long time, and that's a very good thing."
 
Watch a video of the new Ethos Laboratory location here and read more about developments in Newport and across Northern Kentucky at the new NorthernKentuckyUSA.com.
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