What is the Northern Kentucky Port Authority? Tri-ED campaign would put it in business

The Northern Kentucky Port Authority exists mainly on paper today, but it could play a big role in creating jobs and attracting businesses in the future.

Activating and funding this entity is one of the goals of a fund-raising campaign announced by Northern Kentucky Tri-ED.

Tri-ED, the primary economic development organization in the three-county region, has launched a $4.5 million campaign, called Build + Elevate NKY, to fund four job creation initiatives. One of them is to fund the Northern Kentucky Port Authority, a goal that has been earmarked for $2 million over five years.

Although it does have a board of directors, “The Port Authority doesn’t really have any capability today,” says Lee Crume, Tri-ED’s president and CEO. “We want to put both human and operating capital into that entity so it can go out and help prepare the places where good work will happen in our community.”

Despite the name, the Port Authority wouldn’t have a lot to do with ships, boats, barges, or actual ports. Its mission would be to identify, control and prepare industrial sites for future private commercial development.

As currently envisioned, the Port Authority would work closely with Tri-ED, which would provide administrative support. “It will be its own organization, but Tri-ED will put the human and operational capital into it,” Crume says. “What we envision is we’ll leverage the infrastructure of Tri-ED to provide administrative services so people can do the work of the Port Authority.”

The Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority (now called “The Port”) could be a model, as it buys and controls industrial and commercial sites for redevelopment. The Northern Kentucky Authority would not model the Cincinnati agency’s mission of fostering affordable housing, however, Crume says.
There are three other initiatives to be funded by the Tri-ED campaign:
  • Data-informed community decision-making, bringing together data from NKU, the Chamber and elsewhere to develop a list of metrics for the region that they could use to do their economic development work.
  • Deliver custom workforce solutions, including developing education and job training to meet the needs of employers.
  • Targeted business growth to assist existing businesses in expanding and to generate leads for new businesses through focused marketing.
More than 40 companies committed to make contributions during the quiet phase of the campaign, and more than $3 million of the $4.5 million goal has been raised.

“A prosperous Northern Kentucky of the future requires that Tri-ED look beyond business as usual to what is coming around the corner,” says Tom Banta, chair of the Tri-ED board and chief real estate officer at Corporex Companies.


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.