Correction: In a previous version of this story there was a paraphrased line from Gov. Andy Beshear. It read, "Beshear said the lab will solidify northern Kentucky as a pharmaceutical research hub." The governor did say this, but according to oneNKY this is not correct. oneNKY told Spectrum News 1, pharmaceutical research won't be the focus of this lab. It's a life sciences lab for early stage research and development. (Sept. 12, 2023)
COVINGTON, Ky. — Organizations dedicated to the betterment of the northern Kentucky region will soon live under one roof.
The parking lot at the foot of the Roebling Suspension Bridge in Covington may not look like much now, but community leaders in northern Kentucky said the facility that will be built there will become the region’s central hub in the coming years. On Wednesday, community stakeholders, along with Gov. Andy Beshear, D-Ky., broke ground on the new OneNKY Center. It’s a vision years in the making.
“To this point, we have not had that place that really symbolizes northern Kentucky as one region,” said Jeanne Schroer, president and CEO of the Catalytic Fund. “Obviously, this is an underutilized prime piece of real estate, but I think more important than that, we think that as a region, it is important that all the entities who are working to improve the community to bring jobs and investments work together and share their resources.”
The Catalytic Fund is a community development financial institution that makes nontraditional investments in real estate projects that have a high community impact.
Ground may have just broken on the OneNKY Center, but it’s already been leased out to house six nonprofit organizations dedicated to the growth of northern Kentucky, including:
- OneNKY Alliance
- Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce
- BE NKY Growth Partnership
- Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky
- Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky
“We will be strategically aligned for the good of northern Kentucky. Imagine all the accidental encounters that will happen, as well as the deliberate connections to benefit the growth of our community,” said Karen Finan, president and CEO of oneNKY Alliance. “We work together as one big community, but that fragmentation hurts us on so many fronts in many situations — when we go to our legislators in Frankfort for funding, or the federal level. So being able to speak with one voice to have that shared narrative and be able to expand that out to the world — whether it be talent attraction or business attraction — is really a benefit of this facility.”
The building will also be home to the Northern Kentucky Bar Association and the Covington Life Sciences Partners (CLSP). The latter is a $15 million project that Beshear played an early role in securing funding for.
“We are getting the job done. We’re getting it done at a time when many cities across the nation are racing to find more research space. For us to remain competitive for the jobs and industries of the future, we needed this facility in northern Kentucky, and we have acted quickly,” Beshear said.
“This was identified as the biggest need of the current employers in that sector, and how we could grow, how we could have more start-ups, how we can create more high end jobs,” he said.
Eighteen private entities put $25 million of investment capital at risk to support the OneNKY Center. If all goes according to plan, what the region gets out of the center will be worth a lot more.
Public and private investment projects worth more than $5 billion are underway within a mile on either side of the OneNKY Center project site. Those include the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor project, the Ovation project and the former IRS Center renovation.