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Businesses Find Success Together in Northern Kentucky

Collaborative environment boosts economy, creates jobs, and protects the nation's health.

By Bill Lewis on May 11, 2021

Northern Kentucky
Nathan Lambrecht

Everyone knows that competition makes businesses stronger, but in Northern Kentucky, companies are proving that cooperation can be just as powerful.>

Partnerships and support among businesses are strengthening the economy, creating jobs and even protecting the nation’s health during the COVID-19 pandemic.>

Gravity Diagnostics, a small, 4-year-old clinical laboratory based in Covington, KY, grew rapidly after entering into a partnership with Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., the country’s largest grocer. Gravity began processing COVID-19 test kits and delivering rapid results for Kroger as well as other partners soon after the pandemic hit.>

Kits ready for testing begin arriving at 4:30 each morning, but employees often arrive hours earlier in hopes they can help someone be healthier that day, says Tony Remington, Gravity Diagnostics president and CEO.

Pay It Forward in Northern Kentucky

“There’s a pay-it-forward culture, putting others before yourself. People help each other in Northern Kentucky,” he says.

The first day of testing, Gravity Diagnostics processed 20 tests. By the end of 2020, it was processing as many as 26,000 tests per day. During that time the company grew from 35 employees to more than 400. The size of the operation grew from 5,000 to 50,000 square feet.

“As long as we can continue to perform more testing while maintaining our fast reporting, we are not backing down during this critical time where our ability to quickly implement solutions is needed most,” says Julie Brazil, chief operating officer at Gravity Diagnostics.

Encouraging Collaboration Through Local Events

Two Northern Kentucky companies are collaborating in the development of a new treatment for cancer. Bexion Pharmaceuticals and CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services are engaged in a clinical trial to evaluate BXQ-350, Bexion’s proprietary drug.

CTI made the decision to move its headquarters to Covington to be close to Bexion. The move will enable the companies to work closely, says Dr. Ray Takigiku, founder and CEO of Bexion.

“Bexion is very fortunate to be located in Northern Kentucky,” Takigiku says. “Not only have we found local biotech talent that is critical to our mission, the business community has been very supportive of entrepreneurial organizations. In addition, we have found the initial financial support locally to progress Bexion to the clinical trial stage of development.”

The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce helps companies like Bexion make introductions and form relationships that are mutually beneficial, says Takigiku, who is a member of the chamber’s board.

Events sponsored by the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce encourage people to get to know others in the business community, he says, which is the first step in developing a network.

“In this way, the events help companies become acquainted with the talent and diversity that exists in Northern Kentucky. In turn, partnerships between businesses or for common causes and issues can be more effectively managed,” he says.

Building Relationships in the Region

For help building relationships that open doors, small businesses and entrepreneurs can rely on Blue North. The organization offers a community for entrepreneurs, creators, makers and builders in an eight-county region that includes Northern Kentucky.

“Our mission is to tip the scales in favor of the entrepreneurial spirit while connecting Northern Kentucky startups and entrepreneurs with our network of mission-critical resources,” says Executive Director Brit Fitzpatrick.

“We build collaborative relationships with organizations, both local and external to Kentucky, to connect our entrepreneurs to essential resources: capital, customers, direct support, marketing, events and outreach, and professional services.”

Blue North exists to connect, support and expand the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Northern Kentucky. The organization’s services model addresses the full continuum of startup needs, from idea to growth.

“Northern Kentucky has a wealth of talent and resources. Our job is to assist entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses in making the connections they need to grow and take our region to new heights.”

Brit Fitzpatrick, executive director at Blue North

Including All for a Successful Future

Right now, Blue North, in partnership with the Northern Kentucky Community Action Commission, MORTAR Covington, Renaissance Covington and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, is working to map Northern Kentucky’s Black-owned businesses.

Blue North also launched the Chattanooga, Tennessee-based CO. STARTERS program in Owen County, which was the first entrepreneurship program of its kind for Northern Kentucky’s rural-based entrepreneurs, Fitzpatrick says.

“Northern Kentucky has a wealth of talent and resources,” she says. “Our job is to assist entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses in making the connections they need to grow and take our region to new heights.”

Want to learn more about what Northern Kentucky has to offer? Check out the latest edition of Livability Northern Kentucky.

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