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New to Northern Kentucky? Here’s What and Who You Need to Know.

Local organizations connect and engage newcomers to the Northern Kentucky Region.

By Val Hunt Beerbower on April 3, 2023

Levee mural art in downtown Covington, Kentucky. Covington is located in the Northern Kentucky region.
Jeff Adkins

Although the region is home to many generational residents, Northern Kentucky rolls out the welcome mat for newcomers to the area in various ways. 

Establishing First Contact 

Encounter NKY is a new Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce program designed specifically for young professionals and those newer to the area. The immersive nature of Encounter NKY provides emerging leaders with the opportunity to form meaningful professional and personal relationships. 

A sculpture of John A. Roebling, designer and engineer of the Covington and Cincinnati Suspension Bridge in downtown Covington, Kentucky. Covington is located in Northern Kentucky.
Jeff Adkins

Over a three-month period, the cohort meets twice a month for half-day sessions, finding out what makes the region unique and learning about its economy, vibrancy, health, state and local government, and why Northern Kentucky is the perfect place to call home. 

Venezuela native Carlos Ruiz, director of commercial management at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG), says his participation in Encounter NKY helped immerse him in his new home. 

“I was amazed at how interconnected people are in NKY; a lot of people know each other.” 

Carlos Ruiz, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport 

“After reading about the program, I did not think twice about joining. It has been an amazing way to get plugged into the community and meet new friends,” he says. “This group is made up of people with diverse backgrounds; some of the members are new to the area, while others are natives. During our sessions, there is usually time to network among the cohort, and we have the chance to get to know each other and share similarities and differences about the places we live and have lived. It is fun to find those unique things about each place. I was amazed at how interconnected people are in NKY; a lot of people know each other.” 

Each session takes a deep dive into topics that impact the region and the intersectionality of those subject areas. 

Ruiz says his eyes were opened during his Encounter NKY arts and vibrancy day. 

“I was amazed by the amount of public art there is in the region and to learn that Cincinnati/NKY is right behind Miami in its amount of public art,” he says. “We learned about how public art influences economic development. I didn’t stop to think about how art plays a part in making our community more inviting, which increases the desire to live/visit that community. That translates to dollars spent, and that translates to more jobs and better quality of life. This became very evident during (the illuminated arts festival) BLINK and seeing how all the storefronts were packed with people.” 

Ruiz says now that he’s settled into his role at CVG and has a better understanding of his new community, he’s looking forward to getting engaged. 

“I plan to become more involved with some of the organizations that we met during the nonprofit event,” he says. 

Coming to America 

People participate in RefugeeConnect’s World Refugee Day Cup soccer tournament in the Northern Kentucky region.
James Buchanan

Northern Kentucky also embraces its immigrant populations. The NKY Welcoming Plan, which was created in 2020 with immigrant integration in mind, is now in the implementation phase. One critical element of the Welcoming Plan is RefugeeConnect. Its mission is to connect refugees with resources to rebuild their lives as U.S. citizens. 

Kristin Burgoyne, executive director of RefugeeConnect, says the Junior League and other founding members collaborated with the community to identify the most pressing issues facing refugee women and children in the region. 

“RefugeeConnect’s programs are unique because we hire and train cultural leaders, of whom all are refugees and immigrants, to work directly with community members to remove barriers to resources and services,” Burgoyne says. “Navigators speak 13 languages in addition to English.” 

Last July, Burgoyne says RefugeeConnect launched a navigator program to address pressing health issues newcomers face, including helping them navigate the U.S. health care system and linking them to health care-related resources and benefits. 

RefugeeConnect's mission is to connect refugees with resources to rebuild their lives as U.S. citizens.

RefugeeConnect is active in school districts across the region, including in Boone County Schools, where it has embedded a community navigator and a college and career readiness navigator to support graduating seniors. 

“We also hold an annual World Refugee Day soccer tournament that brings together over 20 teams, families and community members in June for soccer, kid-friendly activities, resource booths and a shared meal,” Burgoyne says. 

The program also helps place refugees in local jobs, helping them secure financial stability and meeting important regional workforce needs. 

“Refugees are entrepreneurial and bring many skills with them to the U.S.,” she says. “They contribute not only economically, but also create a rich culturally diverse community.” 

Want to learn more about living and working in the Northern Kentucky region? Check out the latest edition of Livability Northern Kentucky.

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