Despite the pandemic, new companies, new jobs, and new investment were created in 2020

When fast-growing tech company Step CG determined it needed to expand its workforce and its offices, its management launched a search throughout the Midwest. After the search, the company ended up staying where it was launched, in Covington, with plans to invest and grow.

“We considered multiple states and many locations within those states while we were looking for a new headquarters location,” says Ed Walton, CEO. “The community, culture, and vibe of Covington are what we wanted for our growing team,” he says.

Step CG announced it would invest $5.3 million in a new headquarters in RiverCenter and commit to creating 83 new, high-wage jobs. As part of its expansion, the company opened an innovation lab, a 7,000 square foot commercial space to provide employees and customers with next-generation networking equipment from multiple vendors, as well as technology training and certification.

Step CG was one of 27 companies that either expanded or relocated to Northern Kentucky in 2020, says Northern Kentucky Tri-ED in its year-end report. That number actually exceeded the 2020 goal of Tri-ED, the primary economic development organization for Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties. Although the number of jobs created fell short of its goal during the pandemic-slowed year (1,563 new jobs, 87% of the goal), the total amount expected to be invested by those companies, $268 million, topped its goal.

Among the companies that agreed to expand or relocate included Gentis Solutions, a company that recruits tech talent. The firm moved to Covington’s RiverCenter from Williamsport, Pa., and committed to creating 80 new jobs.

Financial services company Protective Life Corp. announced it would move its regional headquarters from Cincinnati to Covington and create 100 jobs.

The region strengthened its link in the supply chain when Dollar General, which runs 16,000 stores in the U.S., announced a state-of-the art distribution center in Walton that would create 250 jobs.

The advanced manufacturing sector represented 44 percent of the companies that grew or invested in Northern Kentucky, Tri-ED says. The sector also led in the number of jobs created and the amount of capital investment announced in 2020.

Tri-ED CEO Lee Crume said three new initiatives will guide Tri-ED’s work in the year ahead: Developing a community dashboard to capture data to guide decision-making; creating a strategy to ensure that land in the region is utilized to create good jobs; and analyzing economic incentive programs.




Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is the managing editor of NKY Thrives, an award-winning journalist, and a Cincinnati native. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.