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Why Is Business Booming in Northern Kentucky?

Investments from global companies and an excellent talent pool have helped fuel job growth in the region.

By Bill Lewis on February 14, 2022

Northern Kentucky boasts a strong, vast business scene
Jeff Adkins

A large reason Northern Kentucky has a burgeoning business scene is thanks to some of the companies that have had a presence here for decades. In fact, many businesses in Northern Kentucky are making millions of dollars’ worth of investments in the region and creating hundreds of jobs. 

“Northern Kentucky represents a diverse base of companies and individuals,” says Kevin Canafax, vice president of regional public affairs for Fidelity Investments, a company that has been here since 1992.

In July 2021, the financial services firm announced plans to hire nearly 600 people in Covington, adding to the roughly 730 jobs created at its Covington campus since the beginning of 2020. 

“I am always impressed with the level and spirit of cooperation, collaboration and commitment to doing the right thing for businesses and advancing our collective goals to make our region and the commonwealth a great place to live and work.” 

Kevin Canafax|Fidelity Investments

Pipeline of Talent in the Region

While jobs are key to the growth of a region, another aspect comes into play when they are created – proficient individuals who can fill the positions. 

Thankfully, Kentucky’s skilled workforce and graduates of the commonwealth’s universities and colleges provide a full pipeline of talent, according to Canafax. 

“Fidelity will tap into the state’s and region’s talented and diverse workforce to source people who are seeking jobs where they can truly make a difference,” Canafax says. “Community colleges and universities like Gateway, Cincinnati State, NKU and Kentucky State are working with us to expose students to coursework to prepare them for these roles. We welcome and value their partnership.” 

Since Fidelity first established operations in Covington, the local workforce has expanded to about 10 times its original size. The company, which is based in Boston, employs more than 51,000 people in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. 

ZEISS Vision Care

Relocating to Northern Kentucky

Eyeglass lens producer ZEISS Vision Care, which has operated in the region since 2001, announced in May 2021 that it relocated its U.S. headquarters from California to join the company’s existing operations in Hebron. This move coincided with the company unveiling a new paperless laboratory at the Hebron facility. 

Moving its headquarters centralized ZEISS’ operations with its main U.S. optical laboratory. The company’s $20 million investment to expand the facility also went toward updating its state-of-the-art optical laboratory, which uses automation, robotics and big-data machine learning to produce lenses as fast, and with as little manual intervention, as possible.

All Eyes on ZEISS

The company unveiled a new, 2,500-square-foot showroom and optical store concept at its Hebron location. The showroom, open to eye care professionals, serves as a replica of a ZEISS Vision Center. The 200-plus ZEISS Vision Centers worldwide offer eye exams, lens consultation and frame selection for patients. They are owned by independent practitioners.

The company has seen great growth in the past few years. Its recent investment will add about 75 full-time jobs to the nearly 400 positions already here, and in the past five years, employment has more than tripled.

“We are looking forward to this exciting new chapter in our growth and further expanding our presence in the Hebron community,” says Jens Boy, president of ZEISS Vision Care North America. “We are proud of our excellent team and will continue to invest into our new HQ location.”

R.A Jones

Investing in Northern Kentucky

Another long-term company in the region, R.A Jones, a designer and manufacturer of packaging equipment, recently announced the investment of more than $2 million in its facility in Kenton County. The upgrades will create 20 high-wage jobs.

Demand for the company’s packaging equipment has grown consistently in recent years and has surged since the start of the pandemic in 2020.

Its location in Northern Kentucky puts it close to the headquarters and manufacturing operations of Procter & Gamble and The Kroger Co.

“The R.A Jones leadership team is … excited to continue its 115-plus-year tradition of contributing to Northern Kentucky’s growing economy and providing quality job opportunities for residents of the surrounding communities,” says CEO Jonathon Titterton.

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