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Looking for a Place to Belong? Get Connected Here.

Northern Kentucky, located across the river from Cincinnati, offers a network of people, places and organizations that intersect to create a unique quality of place.

By Lauren Caggiano on February 16, 2022

Smale Riverfront Park in Cincinnati
Jeff Adkins

As humans, while some solitary time is positive, we crave connectivity. In this region located across the river from Cincinnati, residents can find just that. Here’s how you can make the right connections in Northern Kentucky.

Linking Spaces Along the Ohio River

When it comes to physical spaces, Riverfront Commons is the perfect example of how infrastructure can unite communities and their residents in meaningful ways. This 11.5-mile biking and walking path runs along the Ohio River, connecting the region’s six river cities: Ludlow, Covington, Newport, Bellevue, Dayton and Fort Thomas.

What Makes Riverfront Commons Special?

In between biking or walking, those on the 11.5-mile multiuse path can hop off in any of the connected communities and meet a friend to grab coffee, peruse local shops and dine at some of the region’s must-try restaurants. 

According to Will Weber, president and CEO of Southbank Partners, the project’s developer, Riverfront Commons represents a “united front,” in that these cities are upping the ante to be an attractive destination. 

“We looked at some of our comparable regions throughout the U.S., specifically cities that have a body of water nearby,” Weber says. “That natural asset is very attractive, not only from a residential standpoint, but tourists and future residents are able to connect with the water. Not only can you park once and enjoy that restaurant or that business nearby, but you can get on this multiuse path and connect from city to city in the downtown area, while staying close to the river.” 

In other words, Riverfront Commons is a marriage of economic development and quality of life. 

Wireless Connectivity 

The same can be said of Cincinnati Bell’s $181 million investment (announced in July 2021) to bring fiber-based gigabit internet to Campbell, Kenton and Boone counties in the next two or three years. 

According to Jason Praeter, president and general manager of Cincinnati Bell, this commitment is rooted in a belief that the onus is on corporations like his to address the digital divide. 

“Cincinnati Bell is committed to increasing digital equity, as we know the critical role that high-speed internet connectivity plays in order for individuals and families to access education, health care and employment opportunities,” he says. 

Business + Community Connections

Speaking of employment, Northern Kentucky’s business community often connects with the region by way of programs, donations and sponsorships. Take, for instance, Perfetti Van Melle North America, one of the world’s largest manufacturers and distributors of confectionery and chewing gum, housed in Erlanger. 

Sylvia Buxton, president and CEO of the company, says they’re intentional about their community impact programs. 

“Each year, we donate about $500,000 of our product to charities and food banks, and we hold an annual ‘Community Day,’ during which we close the business for a day so all of our employees can volunteer together on a large project or two on the same day,” Buxton says. “We also have an ongoing commitment to the Ronald McDonald House, where we currently sponsor two rooms and provide the house with candy donations for their residents and staff to enjoy.” 

Northern Kentucky Young Professionals
Ben Gastright

Connecting to Groups in Northern Kentucky

Also making connections – both business and personal – are those taking part in the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s Young Professionals (NKYP) group. The program strives to create opportunities for young professionals to connect with their peers, develop professionally and impact their community through diversity and inclusion. 

Christie Rogers, vice president of special events at the chamber, says the program can be a great way to incentivize loyalty. 

“A lot of our member companies are trying to be more intentional about how they retain talent,” she says. “We’d like them to understand that having a program like NKYP that engages people across their workforce is a great retention strategy, not only for our region, but for their companies.” 

Connecting Through Volunteering

NKYP is far from the only group Northern Kentucky residents can join to meet others and connect with their community. Another great option? Volunteering. 

Michael Young, co-founder and director of new technology for Inspiring Service, the nation’s leading provider of community-and state-based guides for connecting people with active nonprofits, knows this firsthand. After making his return to the region in 2016 after graduating from the University of Southern California, he was eager to feel a renewed sense of belonging. In that quest, he discovered volunteering and was hooked. 

“I think it is important because it allows you to be more connected,” he says. “It allows you to learn about new things and meet people who maybe don’t share the same (viewpoints). You’re going to talk to them while volunteering, and it’s going to expand your horizons.” 

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