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Shannon Schumacher, CBC

Account Executive

Providing Innovative Solutions and Healthier Outcomes for Kentucky Businesses What matters most, each and every day, is helping our clients address one of life’s greatest challenges – obtaining access to quality, affordable health care. HORAN works with employers to develop innovative solutions to minimize costs and improve health. As the landscape continues to shift, HORAN helps Kentucky employers develop strategic plans that address financial concerns, plan design and effective communication with their employees. For more information about how HORAN can help with your benefits strategy, contact Shannon Schumacher at 859.572.4500 or ShannonS@horanassoc.com.


CONTENTS 4 Chair's Letter 8 Turning Your Idea Into Reality 10 Leadership Update 12 Cost Effective Ways to Promote Your Business 16 The Importance of Feedback 18 When New Business Owners Can't Sleep 20 Breaking Down Kentucky's New 5-Star School Rating System 24 A Tale of Three Startups 28 Get to Know GROW NKY 30 Around the Chamber 39 Ribbon Cuttings 45 Member Milestones 46 Events Calendar

ON THE COVER: The Hub+Weber team engaged in a fierce battle of badminton in their renovated train station office located in Covington. PICTURED: NKY Chamber Board Chair Jim Parsons, KMK Law, passes the gavel over to new Board Chair Dan Cahill, HDS Metrics, during the Annual Dinner celebration on September 5.





Dan Cahill Chair, NKY Chamber President and CEO, President & CEO, HSD Metrics HSD Metrics

— Our small businesses drive and maintain our unique, local culture. Thus, it is important to highlight the contribution of small business to our local economy.


INDIVIDUALS WHO INCUBATE, grow and work in small business often lack resources, which means these bold professionals use courage, passion and tenacity to succeed. The odds of success are not favorable. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 20 percent of small businesses fail within their first year. By the end of their fifth year, roughly 50 percent of small businesses fail. After 10 years, the survival rate drops to about 35 percent. These sobering numbers amplify the determination needed to build a thriving small business, so we celebrate these tenacious individuals. I have worked in large and small businesses. Large businesses can offer an outstanding employment experience, but there is a pioneering spirit that exists in the culture of an emerging business that is contagious and exciting. Small businesses can’t offer many of the benefits that large companies can offer, but they can empower employees who would like to create their own success. In Northern Kentucky, this culture is contagious and creates a ripple effect that emanates from the businesses into the community. Our small businesses drive and maintain our unique, local culture. Thus, it is important to highlight the contribution of small business to our local economy. Small businesses are vital to any thriving community. These businesses create the emotional attachment we have to our local economy because often we are doing business as friends and neighbors. We shop local because we want to support the people we know who are living their dream of offering a unique product, service or experience. Across the country, small business sustains towns experiencing reduced population growth. Small business also offers up significant employment opportunities and fuel the American dream. We often boast of the portfolio of large multi-national companies represented in Northern Kentucky, but our business heartbeat is strong because of the emotional attachment we have to our small businesses.

— We often boast of the portfolio of large multinational companies represented in Northern Kentucky, but our business heartbeat is strong because of the emotional attachment we have to our small businesses. Northern Kentucky has an enviable amount of small business activity compared to other notable large markets. The National Business Journal recently did an analysis to determine the location of the highest concentration of small business in the US. To offer some perspective, Denver was ranked sixth and has about 2,768 small businesses per 100,000 residents. Northern Kentucky has about 1,548 per 100,000 residents, which means our community would be ahead of a number of good-sized cities in the rankings. The Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development (Tri-ED) is the guide to Northern Kentucky’s entrepreneur network – connecting startups and small businesses with the mentors, partners, resources, and potential funders they need to succeed. Brit Fitzpatrick, Director of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, is an entrepreneur herself and leads Tri-ED’s initiative to grow Northern Kentucky’s entrepreneur community in our eightcounty region. Several state and federal grants are funding marketing efforts to spread the message that Northern Kentucky is a great place to start a business with a supportive ecosystem focused on success.


— This month, we lift up those individuals who bring life to our communities by the work they do in our businesses.

A commercial from the late 90s highlights the importance of having small business owners and entrepreneurs in our community. In the commercial there is a two-person startup discussing a problem. They see their larger competitor through the window which elicits the comment: “We need to think more like them.” Meanwhile, the larger company is focused on their much larger company competitor, which prompts them to say: “We need to think more like them.” Finally,

the large competitor is looking back at the two-person startup from the start of the commercial and says with feeling: “WE need to think like THEM.” As businesses grow, they fight to maintain the pioneering spirit that ignited their success. When the vision of an organization captures our minds, hearts and souls, we find purpose in where we work. This month, we lift up those individuals who bring life to our communities by the work they do in our businesses. NK Y

The following are some additional statistics about our small business community from Statistics of U.S. Businesses (SUSB), U.S. Census Bureau, compiled by the Center for Economic Analysis and Development(CEAD), Haile/US Bank College of Business at Northern Kentucky University. Special thanks to Janet Harrah, Senior Director at the CEAD, for offering up this data:


There are roughly 6,200 businesses with less than 100 employees in the nine counties (Campbell, Kenton, Boone, Carroll, Gallatin, Owen, Grant, Pendleton, Bracken) that the NKY Chamber supports.



NKY Chamber membership is 85% small business, which reflects the business community. The annual payroll from their business activity is responsible for over $1.9 billion.


Boone County is leading the way in number of businesses and startups, and is the fastest growing county in the Cincinnati 16 county MSA (metropolitan statistical area).


40% 40% NKY Chamber is partnering with Humana to help businesses with one of their largest expenses: health insurance. NKY Chamber HealthSolutions is a new health insurance association exclusively for NKY Chamber members with 2+ employees

8 employees, 19 covered members

With HealthSolutions, many NKY Chamber members will see savings between 5-40% on health insurance premiums .*

Contact your NKY Chamber Broker to start 8saving employees, 19 covered members

NKY Chamber is partnering with Humana to help businesses with one of their largest expenses: health insurance. NKY Chamber HealthSolutions is a new health insurance association exclusively for NKY Chamber members with 2+ employees

The savings with the new Humana health insurance plan are monumental for us. With We cut our total health insurance costs more than half! Yes, that’s right. HealthSolutions, many NKY Chamber Thismembers is also because the prior company increased 2019 rates by 20%. If you will see savings between 5-40% take the into account (where onincrease health insurance premiums .* we would be without Humana), then total savings are more than half. The savings will allow us to get a greater return on investment to help us further the vision of the church and reach more people! Evan Cromer sd

Health Contact your Solutions NKY Chamber Broker to start saving

Pastor – Business & Operations 7 Hills Church

Health Solutions

Annual Breakfast Mindshift: Finding the Power Within Tuesday, January 14, 2020 7:00 - 9:30 AM Northern Kentucky Convention Center Early Bird Pricing until November 12 $50 Members; $60 Future Members Keynote Speaker - Kristi Nelson Kristi Nelson is Vice President Global Human Resources for Multi-Color Corporation, a Cincinnati, Ohio based leader in global label solutions. In her keynote, Nelson will share personal insights into how the most vulnerable moments in life can shake you to the core and she’ll describe how a mindshift can empower you to overcome fear, uncertainty and selfdoubt while rediscovering your resilience.

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Turning Your Idea Into Reality

By Bill Powell FranNet MidAmerica PAGE 8


OWNING A BUSINESS IS PART OF MANY PEOPLE’S American Dream. They like the benefits it could provide, and how it could free them from being an employee. In Kentucky, small businesses make up 99.3 percent of all Kentucky employers. However, small businesses also face many challenges and nearly 50 percent fail in their first five years according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Research shows that 90 percent fail for one of three reasons: lack of knowledge, experience and access to capital. Starting a business from scratch is just one of the three ways a person can become a business owner. The other two are buying an existing business and buying a franchise (a business model that’s already proven in the marketplace). Before beginning your own venture, examine the options and take advantage of the many resources available for someone looking to start their own business.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS FOR AN ENTREPRENEUR? “The first step is to create a business model,” said Brit Fitzpatrick, Director Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Blue North, the Entrepreneurship division of the Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development (Tri-ED). “It takes about 45 minutes to create a first draft using a tool called Business ModelCanvas, which helps entrepreneurs think through things like their customer segments, value propositions, marketing channels and the main factors driving revenue and costs. It’s an ongoing process and usually takes several iterations to arrive at a usable plan. We have print versions available as well as an online version.” This step, like subsequent ones, offers optimal benefits when done in consultation with an experienced advisor, mentor or consultant.

IF WE BUILD IT, WILL THEY COME? The second step, Fitzpatrick said, is “to start what’s known as customer discovery, which helps entrepreneurs determine whether people will actually pay for the product or service, and whether it solves a problem they care about. This can be done though surveys or video/in-person interviews of at least 25-50 people who they think may be customers. Customer discovery continues even after you’ve launched the product or service.” Fitzpatrick said the third step is creating a prototype to share with those same potential customers to get more feedback. “This could be a mockup, a wireframe or a sample of the product or service,” she explained. “If they can’t do it themselves, they can tap into workshops or incubators such as the INKUBATOR, Aviatra or a program called CO.STARTERS that we’re just starting to implement here. “The goal is to use feedback from your prototype,” she continued, “to develop an ‘MVP’ or ‘minimal viable product, which has the smallest number of features or services customers will pay for. It’s better to start with the 1-3 features or services that really create value for customers than the other 7-8 ‘niceto-haves.’ The practice of determining new features or services should also be ongoing.”


From there, Fitzpatrick said it’s time to launch the product or service into the marketplace. “Ultimately, it’s not the idea, it’s the execution,” she commented. “The best form of validation is customers consistently paying for your product or service. Some entrepreneurs can distribute the product or service themselves, and sometimes they need co-founders or partners to make that happen.”

FUNDING TAKES MANY FORMS Some startups can be “bootstrapped,” i.e., funded with mostly with the entrepreneur’s already available resources. However, other businesses such as those in healthcare technology may need much more startup capital to cover research and development, clinical trials and legal work. People fund their startups through savings/investment, home equity loans, loans (credit cards up through Small Business Administration-backed loans), monies from friends or family, and/ or retirement accounts. Crowdfunding—raising small amounts of funds from a large number of people—is another method some people now consider. “We encourage people to create a sustainable revenue model first to help fund their business,” said Fitzpatrick. “If they do that, they’re in a much stronger position to negotiate favorable terms if they then need funding from banks or investors.”

CALCULATED RISK, PLENTIFUL RESOURCES Another key resource for entrepreneurs in Northern Kentucky is the Kentucky Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which has been helping people start, fund and grow their businesses—through counseling and training—for over 35 years. The SBDC at Northern Kentucky University (NKU) has moved into the Haile/U.S. Bank College of Business on campus. While the Center is being transformed, individuals can access services by calling the SBDC State Office at (859) 257-7744. So, if you’re inclined to take the leap and become your own boss, do your homework first. NK Y

LOCAL RESOURCES FOR ENTREPRENEURS BLUE NORTH www.bluenorthky.com FRANNET MIDAMERICA frannet.com/franchise-consultant/bill-powell KENTON COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY kentonlibrary.org/research-learning/business KENTUCKY SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CENTER (KSBDC) ksbdc.org/locations SENIOR CORE OF RETIRED EXECUTIVES (SCORE) greatercincinnati.score.org SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION (SBA) sba.gov KENTUCKY CABINET FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT thinkkentucky.com/entrepreneurship/overview.aspx PAGE 9

LEADERSHIP UPDATE REGIONAL YOUTH LEADERSHIP CLASS OF 2020 KICKED off their program year with a retreat to Camp Ernst. The class of 2020 is the 26th class of students to participate since the program began in 1994. The RYL retreat is an opportunity for the students to get away from their daily lives in an environment that allows them to step out of their comfort zone, grow as leaders, and get to know their classmates. The retreat is an important aspect of the program as it establishes the foundation for the learning that takes place throughout the eight month program. “Not only was Camp Ernst fun, but I learned a lot about my classmates and how a group of strangers can come together to achieve their goals. These games and activities were structured for us to recognize the different styles of leadership and how our classmates displayed these leadership skills. I learned new leadership techniques by observing how my peers led others throughout the day. I am excited to be a part of this remarkable group and for all that we're about to experience together,” said Kali Stock, Ursuline Academy. PICTURED: RYL Students step out of their comfort zone on the rock wall at Camp Ernst. → LEADERSHIP NKY CLASS OF 2020 SPENT SEPTEMBER 12-13 at Camp Joy as part of their program experience. This overnight retreat helps the class to get acquainted through team building and leadership development activities. Angel Beets (LNK 2018) with Gilman Partners facilitated a Clifton Strengths Finder Assessment and overview with class members. Everyone’s strengths were highlighted and the importance of building team with diverse strengths was emphasized. The class retreat lays the groundwork for the upcoming program experience. One class member said, “This was an incredible experience. We came together as strangers and left connected and appreciative of each other and our individual strengths.”

PICTURED: The LNK Class shares their artifact around the campfire at Camp Joy during their class retreat in September.



Member FDIC | forchtbank.com

on helping you build your business Locations in Burlington, Covington, and Grant County

Neal White Banking Officer

Jacob Powers Commercial Banking Officer

Chip Regenbogen Market President

Steve Brunson SVP, Commercial Banking

By Katie Louis Scooter Media PAGE 12


LEADERSHIP WHEN STARTING A BUSINESS, FIGURING OUT THE BEST way to promote your offerings can be daunting. If you’re just starting out, you may not have the time or budget for a big campaign, or the resources to hire an agency to run things for you.


In the world of public relations and marketing, we generally separate coverage into three categories: owned, paid, and earned. Owned channels are just that – platforms owned by your brand where you can control the message put out about your company. These channels include social media, enewsletters, blogs, and more. Paid coverage is also self-explanatory, it’s coverage paid for by your organization, generally through advertising. Finally, earned coverage is when a third party, like a newspaper or new station, runs a story about your company. With all this said, the lines are becoming increasingly blurred, making the landscape a little more complex. The good news is that there are many things you can do with limited resources and experience to spread the word about your company.

While owned options and social media advertising are necessary tools for your brand, traditional advertising is still a useful outlet for many industries. Depending on the outlet, however, advertising options can get quite pricey. Digital options or specialized outlets can be more affordable than print options or packages from the larger publications or outlets. Consider your audience and which outlets they gravitate towards to ensure you’re making the most of your money. While digital ads and social media are certainly a wonderful avenue for limited budgets, the benefits of direct mail are still evident. According to a 2018 report from the Association of National Advertisers, the response rate of direct mail is five to nine times higher than that of email, paid search, or social media. You can work with local print houses and the United States Postal Service to coordinate a direct mail campaign. Through the USPS, you can target based on ZIP Code, mail route, and even demographics like age, household size, and income.



A great place to start is with owned channels like social media – make sure that you have a presence on relevant channels for your business. Different channels make sense for different kinds of businesses, but Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn are the most dominant outlets. Actively managing your presence on these channels allows you to control the message going out about your company, and offers a place to connect with your followers and potential customers. Having authentic conversations via social media is one way to inspire loyalty and share your brand’s personality and values. Beyond having a place to share your story, advertising on social media is cost effective. While there are posts that see good organic traction, it’s a good idea to allocate some money to boost your posts and even place ads on social media channels. For relatively small sums, you can help your posts or ads cut through clutter to reach a larger, and more targeted audience. Instead of being limited to people who already follow your page, you can reach an audience of your choosing based on demographic information, interests, and more.

With all of these opportunities comes the need for marketing collateral – ads of various sizes, mailers, and other supporting materials. There are several tools available for free to support your design needs. A helpful tool for your arsenal is Canva. The easy-to-use website offers templates for ads on a number of platforms, postcards, posters, and much more. For a little more advanced graphic design support, without the cost of Photoshop, there’s GIMP. It’s a free program for photo retouching, image composition, and more.


E-NEWSLETTER To ensure you’re reaching your most ardent supporters, consider creating an e-newsletter. There are platforms for every budget, including free. These sites have customizable templates and a number of integrations that allow you to deliver news directly to your supporters. This is perfect for more in-depth information or exclusive deals for supporters.


WORD OF MOUTH Besides all these marketing techniques, word of mouth is one of the best ways to spread the word about your business. Joining organizations like the Northern Kentucky Chamber offers numerous opportunities to get involved and get in front of your audience. The NKY Chamber regularly features members in articles in the Business Journal (which you’re reading!), and offers affordable ads. The NKY Chamber also hosts a weekly podcast spotlighting community happenings and news from members. Beyond those opportunities, the NKY Chamber offers several events to sponsor and attend. Just getting your name out there and networking is invaluable for a growing business. Promoting your business can feel like a full-time job. Start small and take advantage of your networks for support. Good luck! NK Y




Saturday, November 30 Noon to 5:00pm Kick off your holiday season with a one-of-a-kind Artisan Market featuring handcrafted gifts and unique finds made by local artists.

TICKETS $5.00 per person

For member, student and group discounts, please call The Carnegie Box Office at 859.957.1940, Tu-Fri, Noon-5pm.

Cincinnati PRSA 2018 Small/Mid-Sized PR Agency of the Year

$15 for a family of 4 Ages 5 & under free

1028 Scott Blvd, Covington KY | thecarnegie.com

PREPARE AFFAIR November 16, 2019

Join thousands of volunteers spending a Saturday morning helping our neighbors in need. For more information on Prepare Affair or volunteering with PWC visit


Lyrics by Tim Rice | Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Playing January 11 – 26, 2020 JOSEPH AND THE AMAZING TECHNICOLOR DREAMCOAT is presented by arrangement with The Musical Company, LP, 229 West 28th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10001. The 2019-20 Carnegie Theatre Series is presented by the Otto M. Budig Family Foundation. Additional support comes from the Kentucky Department of Tourism. .


Raking a difference with PWC!


For showtimes, ticket availability and additional information, please visit thecarnegie.com

The Carnegie Box Office is open Tu-Fri, noon-5pm. Call 859.957.1940

Vision. Success. Support.

What is your vision for the next year in your life and business? What about 5 or 10 years from now? Do you really know?

Guiding individuals to clarify their vision and define their goals, create the life and business success they always dreamed of. NanettePolito.com 859.816.7659

Team Coaching Find Your Why Workshops Custom Designed Workshops Create Your Vision Workshops Keynote Speaking Personality Effect Workshop

The Importance of Feedback

By Mark Jeffreys Mobile Agent Now



THE WORLD OF COMMERCE AND marketing has shifted dramatically to the online space, which matters to big and small business. The Pew Research Center reported that 92% of Internet users ages 18 to 29 use social networking sites. As a result, the importance of electronic word-of-mouth (eWOM) communication is higher than ever, with reviews impacting purchase and your search ranking. As commerce and brand reputations move increasingly online, awareness on the importance of customer reviews and reputation management has also grown and customer expectations have shifted. Think about it this way: Consumergenerated content in the form of trusted online reviews is the world’s largest yet unacknowledged social media platform. “Unacknowledged” because 65% of consumers expect a personal response to an online review, but are not getting it. According to a study by Womply, 75% of small businesses don’t respond to any reviews.

ONLINE REVIEWS INFLUENCE PURCHASE So why should you care? Simply put: online reviews influence purchasing decisions. In fact, 9 in 10 consumers read online reviews before visiting a business, while online reviews have been shown to impact 68% of purchasing decisions. Both of these numbers make sense when you consider that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as word of mouth. What’s more, online reviews are evergreen. They’re more enduring than Facebook comments, Twitter posts, Instagram pictures or even blog posts. They can influence other consumers for days, months, or even years to follow. Just go online to any Google review page and look at how far back they go.


Your active engagement with the reviews also drives strong word of mouth. 33% of customers indicate that they would recommend a brand that offers a quick, even if ineffective, response to a review versus only 17% if the response is slow and effective. Speed of response is a signal that you care about your customers. The numbers support the fact that sales increase when customer reviews are acknowledged with fast and professional responses. A Harvard Business Review study showed a 12% increase in sales from responding to reviews, and a Suzy study demonstrated a 7:1 ROI via Online Review responses. Even more compelling, a recent study by Womply found that a business who responds to as little as 25% of online reviews sees an average 35% more revenue than the average business. Another point to consider is that reviews impact search ranking and results. 13% of Google’s algorithm is driven by the recency and velocity of reviews and responses. Even if you don’t care about online reviews and what your customers are saying, ignoring them means you may not even be popping up in a search with potential customers. Whether or not a potential customer is actively looking for reviews, all they have to do is search for your business. When the address and Google rating pops up and there are no reviews, or worse yet a really poor star rating, then that means the customer often will “deselect” your business. Customers are leaving immediate online feedback on a wide variety of sites: Google, Facebook reviews, Yelp, Trip Advisor, etc., and that list is growing. Paying an associate to peck at the website (or doing it yourself) is time intensive and pulls resources away from other tasks, especially for a small business that needs to remain agile and for whom customer service needs to be a top priority.

CREATING A DASHBOARD TO MANAGE Using a review dashboard that can aggregate your reviews from all corners of the web into one place can streamline the process and simplify your business’s review management. Online reviews can be intimidating, but they don’t need to be. They can be managed and responded to, and help your business provide great customer service, improve your Google search results, remain top of mind with current and potential customers, and drive sales. Now is the time for companies large and small to embrace online reviews and the benefits they can provide. NK Y

DID YOU KNOW? Mobile Agent Now offers two services for NKY Chamber members that make it efficient and cost effective to manage reviews and generation new reviews. 1.

One Tap Review Response Portal: A turnkey solution that aggregates all reviews in one place from which you can easily respond and get immediate notification of new reviews as well as a dashboard that captures trends in reviews across sites. 2. Review Generation: For those businesses that don't have a lot of reviews, but recognize that potential customers are looking at them (68% of purchases are influenced by reviews) this solution offers an easy way for you to invite customers to post reviews. For more information go to NKYChamber.com/MobileAgentNow.


When New Business Owners Can’t Sleep Two attorneys discuss the most common problems keeping new business owners up at night and what new business owners can do about them. By Karen Cornelissen KC Writing & Editing Solutions

IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT, MOST PEOPLE are sleeping soundly in their beds. New business owners, weary from another long day of pitching, selling, and keeping the lights on, may be among them in slumbering away the starlight, exhausted from the day’s labors. But it doesn’t take much for a new business to fold, and any number of things could have new business owners struggling to sleep when the moon is high in the sky. They may be tossing and turning or staring at the ceiling, restless at the thought of some problem that, if mismanaged, could be the undoing of what they have worked so hard to build. All new business owners worry about sudden snafus that could do them under. (See this issue’s piece on how new businesses should handle a bad online review.) Just as agonizing, if not more so, are significant problems that result from a lack of foresight or proper planning. Bob Hoffer, managing partner at DBL Law, and Rob Hudson, Past Chamber Chair and member of Frost Brown Todd, both have years of experience representing companies in labor and employment matters. They outline where new business owners are most likely to experience trouble and what new business owners can do about it.

“You don't learn those things until you fall down a hill, and someone has to pull you out of it.” Bob Hoffer, DBL Law



WHAT THREATENS NEW BUSINESSES — AND THEIR OWNERS’ SLEEP CASH FLOW Many new business owners find themselves losing sleep over the inability to pay for things simply because they have no cash flow. Hoffer says that the best way to deal with this is for new business owners to establish a good relationship with their financial institution and CPA. New business owners should not shy away from getting to know the banker and CPA . New business owners should keep that person up to speed on what their day-to-day financial struggles are and what they need. Bankers and CPAs can help them make the best decisions for making cash resources available in the form of a small business loan or line of credit. CYBERSECURITY Hoffer says that cybersecurity is also an issue that should keep new businesses up at night (if it doesn’t already). All it takes is one hack for a business to lose everything. Investing in proper security and insurance is key to safeguarding a company’s work and clients. The problem is that businesses generally can’t justify the costs of cyber liability coverage, so they may elect to go without and simply hope that intruders don’t breach their systems. HUMAN RESOURCES PROBLEMS Wages & Hours Hudson points to wage and hour laws as one of the likeliest sources of trouble for new businesses. As soon as a team reaches a certain size, legal compliance responsibilities tend to grow. “Twists and turns in compensation packages can create legal issues,” said Hudson. “How do you compensate employees for things like overtime, travel and training?” The law in Kentucky is more onerous than in other states as employers in the state must pay for as many as five years in back pay and double damages. Many business owners grow their enterprises operating on certain assumptions about their staff and their staff’s hours. If they are wrong and improperly pay their people, the back payments could be devastating. The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has been an advocate in identifying areas where there is room for reform in this regard, since the impacts can be severe for small businesses. Until the laws change, new business owners need to carefully watch how they pay their team members. Equal Employment Opportunities According to Hudson, the other human resources area that keeps new business owners up at night are issues with equal employment opportunities, albeit for slightly different reasons. Hudson says that although litigation and settlement costs can be expensive, they can “take a backseat to the emotional roller coaster of being accused of discrimination, retaliation, or harassment.” A public accusation of that sort, no matter how false the allegation, is very hard for new business owners who feel that their moral character is under assault. For those who haven’t considered what the experience of an equal employment opportunity claim can be like, Hudson says to remember that


“When we talk small business, we are talking about our neighbors. It’s not just business, it’s also personal as they chase the American dream.” Of course, these accusations aren’t just distracting or hurtful to business owners’ feelings and reputations. Hudson says it is worth noting that Kentucky does not cap the amount in damages that a jury can award an employee for emotional harm, so just as with wages and hours problems, equal employment opportunity issues can have overwhelming monetary consequences. As a result, new business owners, who should be focusing on growing their companies, are defending against these claims, managing the defense, funding the defense, and dealing with the fallout and the hit to their team’s morale.

HOW NEW BUSINESS OWNERS CAN SIDESTEP THESE PITFALLS SET UP PROPERLY Most businesses don’t discover what they need from an operational standpoint until they experience trouble. As Hoffer puts it, “You don't learn those things until you fall down a hill, and someone has to pull you out of it.” Some of this, he says, is the result of the internet, which has made it much, much easier for individuals to go online and establish businesses in a jiffy without learning the necessary details. Because they are flying solo, these entrepreneurs set up their enterprises uninformed and end up establishing a type of business that isn’t appropriate for their intentions. The ramifications can end the business before it really starts, because newly formed entities find themselves unable to manage the financial, tax-based responsibilities that are expected of them based on the way they got set up. New business owners fall into the allure of the DIY trap because they are short on capital from the moment they get moving, and a DIY approach presents an opportunity to save some money. Hoffer stresses that it’s worth paying someone to get a new business established properly from the beginning. ESTABLISH THE RIGHT RELATIONSHIPS Hoffer and Hudson agree that entrepreneurs need to establish relationships with the right people. It’s important that new business owners have a banker (and bank), a certified public accountant (CPA), and an attorney to whom they can turn for advice and assistance. These professionals can look at things objectively (which is essential when things get emotional), and they can provide new business owners with guidance. ADOPT THE APPROPRIATE MINDSET In the end, it all comes down to mindset. It is imperative that new business owners adopt a proactive and not a reactive mindset about these issues. Embracing the reality that they need to establish the right relationships and make room in their budgets for insurance and security measures will make all the difference in new business owners’ ability to see fledgling operations through a storm and, if they’re lucky, get some muchneeded shuteye after a long day. NK Y


Breaking Down Kentucky's New 5-Star School Rating System By Courtney Kleier NKY Chamber IN RECENT YEARS, KENTUCKY SCHOOL districts have been using the Unbridled Learning scoring system but this year the Commonwealth launched the new 5-star school accountability system based on five indicators of school achievement (pictured at right). While it entails similar elements, the cut scores for star levels are new and were only very recently set. The standards for the system were determined by the Kentucky Education Commissioner Wayne Lewis and based on the recommendations of a panel. There are plans to score a sixth indicator, quality of school climate and safety, next year based on data from the current 2019-2020 school year. The star ratings for NKY schools were mixed, with significant variation even within districts. The goal of the new 5-star system, to produce more well-rounded and transition ready students, is already being addressed by work being done through GROW NKY (Growing Regional Outcomes through Workforce), the region’s strategic workforce effort. GROW NKY College & Career Readiness efforts are specifically focused on making NKY high school seniors transition ready for their next steps into academic or career pathways. This is achieved through increasing awareness of high-need fields, providing resources, identifying student strengths and interests, and removing barriers. Dr. Karen Cheser, Superintendent of Fort Thomas Independent Schools and Lead of the College & Career Readiness focus area on behalf of the NKY Cooperative for Educational Services, noted that the latest figures show that 68.9% of current NKY high school students meet at least one of the measures of transition readiness. While there may be “no guarantees of success,” noted Cheser the measures and support systems that have been developed through GROW NKY are certainly increasingly the likelihood. (continued on page 22) PAGE 20

New Accountability Indicators • • • • •

Proficiency (reading & math) Separate Academic (science, writing & social studies) Growth Transition Readiness Graduation Rates


High School Star Rating

Economically Disadvantaged*

Beechwood Independent Bellevue Independent Boone County Campbell County Covington Independent Dayton Independent Erlanger-Elsmere Fort Thomas Independent Kenton County Ludlow Independent Newport Independent Silver Grove Southgate Independent Walton-Verona

5 3 3 3 1 3 2 4 3 3 2 2 Elem/Mid - 3 5

17.50% 79.80% 38.60% 47.70% 88.90% 76.60% 70.70% 8.60% 42.70% 69.40% 89.20% 70.10% 74.90% 40%

*Students identified as Economically Disadvantaged based upon being program or income eligible for free or reduced-priced meals. This data point uses student membership to calculate the percentage of the total student body who are identified as economically disadvantaged.


Ultimate Workshop

TAX, Succession, and Estate mistakes made by Business Owners and how to avoid them Presented By: NKY Chamber of Commerce

William E. Hesch, Esq., CPA, PFS • Amy E. Pennekamp, Esq.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019, 8:00 am – 11:30 am Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce 300 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 330 Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017

Register at www.nkychamber.com/events Members: $30, Non Members: $45

Benefits of Attending the Workshop: • Identify action steps for your business which become your 2020 road map for success! • Protect the value of your business and its long-term success. • Avoid major business problems that would arise if you died or became disabled. • Get answers to your CPA and legal questions. Forward your questions to Bill prior to the workshop! • All attendees receive a one-hour complimentary follow-up consultation with Bill. 8:00 am • Session 1: Top 10 Tax Planning Mistakes • Choice of Entity-Sole Proprietor, S or C Corporation • Maximize retirement plan deductions • Maximize your tax deductions • Avoid IRS audit problems

9:15 am • Session 2: Top 10 Succession Planning Mistakes • How to Plan for: *Death, *Disability, *Retirement • Secrets For a Successful Business Succession Plan • Planning for disability of owner

10:30 am • Session 3: Top 10 Estate Planning Mistakes • How to use a Trust and buy-sell agreement in estate plan • How to protect family and value of business if owner dies or becomes disabled

William E.Hesch Law Firm, LLC

Personalized • Experienced • Service-oriented After you meet with your attorney, CPA and Financial Planner, contact Bill on his cell phone at (513) 509-7829 to get a second opinion and see what he can do for you. 3047 Madison Road, Suite 205, Cincinnati, OH 45209 | 513-731-6601 | www.heschlaw.com This is an advertisement | Legal work may be performed by others within the firm.

Moving forward from these scores, school districts face two main challenges. One is the difficulty for administrators to keep up with the the mercurial nature of state education standards, which superintendents referred to as “constantly evolving” and “like trying to hit a moving target.” As recently as the past week, the Kentucky Department of Education has convened a taskforce to reconfigure the curriculum of Kentucky Schoolsand perhaps also the assessments. The second is the new state emphasis on highlighting gaps in student achievement between the general student body and subgroups including those with disabilities, receiving Free/Reduced lunches, or those of various ethnic identities. This made a particularly big impact on large school districts. Both Fort Thomas Schools, the fourth largest Independent district in the state, and Campbell County Schools identified this as a factor in one of their schools losing an entire star. However, they recognize this as an area for growth, even as other areas excel. Dr. David Rust, Superintendent of Campbell County Schools, acknowledged this, saying “we increased our transition readiness by four points from last year and our ACT scores are ninth in the state out of 169 districts with high schools. [But] we have to really hunker down and work on growth. Our students are high performing, but they can still grow. And we have work to do with our disability gap. We know it and are working on it.” This new system also represents opportunities for NKY schools. Now districts can re-focus on areas of improvement and have hard, numerical goals to gain another star. Moreover, in conjunction with GROW NKY’s work, more families are drawn to NKY because of its strong schools. “The recent state rankings for schools make it very clear that Northern Kentucky is well positioned to leverage P-12 education to both grow and attract talent,” said Gene Kirchner, NKY Chamber Chief Operations Officer. “Our region is blessed to have an abundance of excellent schools.” Dr. Matt Baker, Superintendent of Walton-Verona Independent Schools located in fast-growing Boone County, noted that most families enrolling at Walton-Verona Independent are either third or fourth generation students or have relocated for the school. He went on to point out that there is an “assumption that a 5-star school is fantastic and there’s no room for improvement, nothing is further from the truth. . . [And] if a school rates 1 or 2 stars it doesn’t mean there still aren’t great things happening there every day for students.” This perfectly echoed Rust’s sentiment that the “totality of a school’s performance and value to students and a community shouldn’t boil down to a single indicator, number, or star. Each school provides value to its community in different ways and each community should be able to focus in and value the part or parts of the assessment that mean the most to it.” Cheser, too, closed with a call to “look beyond the stars” and recognize the importance for our region to “focus on the positive and send a positive message.” At the end of the day, NKY schools need to present themselves as a united front. In an increasingly tight labor market, it is crucial for the area’s talent attraction and retention efforts that others from around the country recognize the strength of our school districts and the great work being done across the region on the talent pipeline. It is in that way that when any school district succeeds, all NKY wins. NK Y PAGE 22

“The recent state rankings for schools make it very clear that Northern Kentucky is well positioned to leverage P-12 education to both grow and attract talent. Our region is blessed to have an abundance of excellent schools.” Gene Kirchner, Chief Operating Officer NKY Chamber of Commerce

2019 High School ACT Rank School

ACT Rank out of 229 High Schools

Composite Average Score

Beechwood High School



Highlands High School



Larry A. Ryle High School



Randall K. Cooper High School



Campbell County High School



Walton-Verona High School



Conner High School



Dixie Heights High School



Simon Kenton High School



State Rank out of 169 School Districts

Composite Average Score

Beechwood Independent



Fort Thomas Independent



Campbell County



Walton-Verona Independent



Boone County



Kenton County



Ludlow Independent




2019 District ACT State Rank District Name


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THREE STARTUPS By Jamie Glavic Scooter Media

Through the best of times and the worst of times, this is the story of three local businesses, from infancy to maturity.



STARTING A BUSINESS IS NO EASY feat. It requires an idea, a passion for the work, and a clear vision to build something new. Sustaining that business is even more challenging and influenced by many factors.

Location tops the list of external factors that can mean success or failure for a new business.Because of its excellent business atmosphere, Northern Kentucky is home to a wealth of early, mid and established independently-run businesses that began as a single idea.

We spoke with three local businesses about their infancy and maturation in their industry, from growing pains to lessons learned, successes and plans for the future.

AquiSense Technologies From day one, AquiSense has been a global company. Clean water is something most of us take for granted, but AquiSense Technologies in Erlanger is dedicated to purifying water for the world. Founded in President and CEO Oliver Lawal’s basement in Walton in 2015, AquiSense Technologies is the first company to commercialize ultraviolet LEDs for purification in water, surfaces, and air – innovating disinfection systems from mercury-based UV lamps to LEDs. As a startup, Lawal and his team took a measured approach to their business, from raising capital to goal-setting to pacing growth and expansion. It can be disheartening when investment deals fall through after advanced discussions, but Lawal says it’s important to keep going. As CEO, Lawal focused on growing AquiSense through customer innovation, not by borrowing money. “We tried to take as little money as possible to fund the growth of the business, and tried to not be upset when funding fell through,” Lawal said. “We don’t want to be disruptive; we want to be constructive and do things that simply can’t be done anywhere else by any other company.” At the same time, Lawal has a vision for his business to have a global impact.

“Water is everywhere, and access to clean and safe drinking water is a world-wide issue,” said Lawal. “We have the ability to solve these problems everywhere.” “Our vision from day one was to think big,” said Lawal. AquiSense didn’t want to talk about concepts but deliver real products quickly. Staying ahead of the competition has impacted the company’s success and international reach. “We are not constrained by geography or market. Our competitors may be focused on the boating market or drinking fountains in Europe, but we are working on everything,” Lawal said. Simply put, innovation is a state-ofbeing at AquiSense, fueled by confidence in ability and paranoia about the competition. Four years since its founding, AquiSense has offices in Europe and Asia, servicing customers around the globe and improving their chemical-free water treatment solutions every day. Lawal’s advice for those starting a business: be really cautious and an expert in what you are doing. Niches can be dangerous business ventures – and are often niche for a reason. Finally, as you move forward, don’t deliver on what you think your customers and the market want; deliver exactly what they want.

Oliver Lawal

President & CEO AquiSense Technologies

“We don’t want to be disruptive; we want to be constructive and do things that simply can’t be done anywhere else by any other company.” Oliver Lawal SMALL BUSINESS 2019 | VOLUME 39 NUMBER 1


Divisions Maintenance Group

PICTURED: Divisions Maintenance Ownership Group, From left to right - Grant Mitchell, Gary Mitchell, Hugo Saxson, Doug Lackey and Andy Smith.

Five people, $600 each. That’s how "Identify and prioritize Divisions Maintenance Group (DMG) your company’s needs, began. DMG was founded in 1999 after and, while remaining founder Gary Mitchell spoke with a adaptable, laser focus on facilities manager about how tough it is the steps that will take to oversee quality services at dozens of sites from a corporate level. It sparked you to your goal." a connection for the then 22-year-old Mitchell: what if facilities maintenance Gary Mitchell had a national network of certified vendors? The business papers were signed in his mom’s basement and Gary “Within six months we needed a line and his team started selling door to door of credit from the bank,” says Mitchell. to any commercial property with grass or “Honestly, we were surprised at how easy a parking lot. They quickly expanded to it was to get,” Mitchell said. offer interior services. It was essential, however, to growth. They relied on the support of their “It cost $50,000 to open an office in a new families, with every dime they made going city,” according to Mitchell. “We could back into the company. It was two years break even in 4-6 months. If I knew then before they took a paycheck, the first for what I know now, I’d have opened more just $62.50 for a week, the amount one of offices sooner.” them needed to pay speeding ticket. Soon, Twenty years after those modest they expanded business across the region, beginnings, DMG has district managers all from a storefront in Alexandria. in 46 cities across the country and


350 employees, most at their Newport headquarters. DMG has always operated as a vendor management platform, but within the first decade moved from paper to proprietary apps. Customers and service providers are now logging service requests, proposals, labor hours, materials used, and inspections in real-time. It’s the people and technology that defines DMG, and the economies of scale combined with data analysis that create value. DMG has experienced explosive growth, 73% from 2015 to 2018 and inclusion in the Inc. 5000 list, Deloitte 100, Fast 55, and Top Workplaces. Mitchell admits he was lucky to choose an industry in its infancy. DMG built a business on embracing a foreign concept and fulfilling a pressing need. He sees a lot of runway ahead and has bold plans for the next two decades. His advice to rising entrepreneurs: identify and prioritize your company’s needs, and, while remaining adaptable, laser focus on the steps that will take you to your goal.



"Develop relationships for the long term, and surround yourself with good people." -

Jim Guthrie Principal Hub+Weber

Weathering the startup storm is difficult, but being in business for 46 years is no easy feat. Covington-based architecture firm Hub+Weber has managed just that, designing buildings and building relationships since 1973. Founder Bill Hub worked in Covington and decided to branch out on his own after developing a relationship with contractor Al Schleper. Schleper had enough work to keep Hub busy, and just 11 months later Hub made his first hire – current president Gene Weber. Part of the success of Hub+Weber is owed to the fact that the team is dedicated to managing growth and maintaining the quality of service to its customers. “We’ve determined that involvement of a principal of the firm in all projects is paramount,” explained Jim Guthrie, now a Principal at the firm who first joined in 1988. “The experience of a principal is crucial in providing quality service to the client.” The firm has continued to provide quality service, resulting in 80-90% repeat customers each year. The firm has enjoyed success, it doesn’t mean they’ve been immune to growing pains along the way. A period of rapid growth led to physical isolation within the office, which resulted in problems on projects and in employee moral until the firm found a fix for the situation. Another part of the success of Hub+Weber is owed to the foresight and business planning of partners Bill Hub and Gene Weber. Their vision for the future served them well with the unfortunate early passing of Bill Hub in 2004. Because the company had a succession plan in place for Gene Weber to take the helm, the firm continued on its path of decades of success. Hub+Weber continuously looks to the future with the goal of providing architectural services that improve the built environment, and positively impact people’s lives. Guthrie has several words of advice for today’s startups: develop relationships for the long term, and surround yourself with good people. Guthrie also reminds those beginning a new venture that there is more to life than work. NK Y

PICTURED: Jim Guthrie, Jen Barnett, Cody Chitwood, Chris Meyer, Trent Bradford, Erin Graham & Blake Bisig. SMALL BUSINESS 2019 | VOLUME 39 NUMBER 1


Get to Know GROW NKY GROW NKY (GROWING REGIONAL OUTCOMES THROUGH Workforce) is comprised of leaders across key industries, educational institutions, and community organizations working collaboratively to leverage the region’s assets to grow, attract and retain a globally competitive workforce. GROW NKY helps address our region’s skills and people gap, with a focus on ensuring Northern Kentucky can support business growth through a strategic workforce effort, known as the GROW NKY Talent Strategy.

The GROW NKY Talent Strategy follows a cradle-to-career approach to workforce development with a focus on five key areas, each with short- and long-term goals: Kindergarten Readiness, College & Career Readiness, Adult Career Readiness & Life Long Learning, Talent Retention & Attraction, and Employer Policies & Practices. The work is geared toward Northern Kentucky’s high-demand industry sectors which include Advanced Manufacturing, IT, Advanced Logistics, Health Sciences, Financial Services and Construction.

Focus Areas Kindergarten Readiness

College & Career Readiness

Adult Career Readiness & Life Long Learning

Improve kindergarten readiness for NKY

Increase the percentage of students who meet one or more Kentucky Department of Education college or career readiness measures

Increase supply of qualified workers to improve regional Labor Force Participation rate

Lead Organization Success by 6

Lead Organization NKY Cooperative for Educational Services

Lead Organization Kentucky Career Center



What can GROW NKY do for you? Here are a few examples of how GROW NKY can support your business or organization: Strategic Workforce Action Team (SWAT): Not sure how to tackle a workforce challenge? GROW NKY helps facilitate meetings between employers and regional workforce resources to create customized action plans. Business Impact Scorecard: Gain a better understanding of your people practices and how you stack up against businesses in your industry when it comes to attracting and retaining employees. Report includes suggestions for improving outcomes and detailed data breakdowns. Talent Pipeline Engagement: Connect with K-12 and post-secondary students and institutions through work-based learning opportunities and business engagement tours.

Who is GROW NKY? GROW NKY is led by the NKY Chamber as the backbone organization in conjunction with a number of key partners that make up the GROW NKY Steering Committee.

The Steering Committee, as well as additional community partners, implement various aspects of the work within the GROW NKY Talent Strategy based on their respective core competencies. Through centralized executive responsibility, leadership, and management, GROW NKY is positioned to elevate coordination, efficiency, and create a faster response to our region’s workforce needs.

Talent Retention & Attraction

Improve the region’s ability to attract and retain qualified workers

Lead Organization NKY Chamber SMALL BUSINESS 2019 | VOLUME 39 NUMBER 1

Employer Policies & Practices Assist employers to attract, retain and advance their workforce through implementation of best practices

Learn more and get involved To learn more about GROW NKY visit www.nkychamber.com/GROW or contact a staff member below.

Leisa Mulcahy Managing Director Vice President, Workforce lmulcahy@nkychamber.com 859. 578.6396 Amanda Johannemann, IOM Director, Talent Strategies | NKYP ajohannemann@nkychamber.com 859.426.3654

Lead Organization Partners for a Competitive Workforce PAGE 29






PICTURED: 1. Kristin Baldwin, Rep Sal Santoro, Rep Adam Koenig, Rep Kimberly Moore & Ashli Watts



J/E Steve Pendery, J/E Gary Moore & J/E Kris Knochelmann


Julie Kirkpatrick, Kristopher Thomas, Ken Lewis & Brent Cooper


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5. 6.

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Jamie Cunningham, Leisa Mulcahy, Tiffany Vanderbilt & Stephanie O’Ryan Lisa Jones, Roy Jones & Donna Evans Kevin Kellam, Greg Shumate, Brent Cooper, Peg Montgomery and Owner, Phil Schworer Jim Simpson & Dave Osterday Roger Babik & Brian Miller Michael Monks & Coach Darrin Horn Jay Weust & Tom Lampe Donna Grey, Lance Angle & Melanie Cannon Ken Bothof & Brent Cooper Jeff Rouse & Luke Neiheisel Adrijana Kowatsch, Drew McDonald, Joe Kidwell & Will Weber








15. The Women's Initiative CONNECT Hour crew at The White House Event Center in Edgewood's President's Park 16. Karen Forgus, Christi H. Cornette & Sylvia Buxton 17. Holly Smith, Holly Mazzocca, Colene Elridge & Geralyn Isler













18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25.

Colene Elridge Kristen Zavo Maureen Donnallan Jane Sojka Angel Beets Kathy Selker . Christine Luken Rachel Strunk

All photos by Ben Gastright



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IS A KUMON FRANCHISE RIGHT FOR YOU? Do you have a passion for working with children, and think you’d enjoy helping students become more independent, self-assured and confident? We’d love to talk with you about turning your enthusiasm for Kumon into a rewarding business. CALL/TEXT 314.330.4137

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VISIT www.KumonFranchise.com Minimum qualifications for the candidates: • • • •

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For information on enrolling your child in Kumon, please visit Kumon.com © 2019 Kumon North America, Inc. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as an offer to sell or the solicitation of an offer to buy a franchise. We offer franchises solely by means of our Franchise Disclosure Document. The United States Federal Trade Commission and certain states have laws governing the offer and sale of franchises. We will not offer you a franchise unless and until we have complied with all applicable legal requirements in your jurisdiction.

RIBBON CUTTINGS ATKINS & PEARCE/THE CHRIST HOSPITAL CLINIC One Braid Way | Covington, KY 41017 | (859) 356-2001 | www.atkinsandpearce.com PICTURED: Jamie Dickey, ITA Audio Visual Solutions-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Gene Kirchner, NKY Chamber; Shonna Back, The Christ Hospital; Arturo Polizzi, The Christ Hospital; Jeb Head, Atkins & Pearce; Tonya Arrasmith, Atkins & Pearce; Ken Schorsch, The Christ Hospital; Janice Sebree, The Christ Hospital, Heather Slater, The Christ Hospital; Valerie Johnson, L & N Federal Credit Union; Jennifer Schuster, The Christ Hospital

BOMDIA MASSAGE & WELLNESS 2216 Dixie Highway, Suite L3 | Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017 | (859) 412-7484 | www.bomdiamassage.com PICTURED: Brent Cooper, NKY Chamber, President; Connie Flynn, ErigoNKY Chamber Ambassador; AJ Rogers, BomDia Massage & Wellness; Adriana Rogers, BomDia Massage & Wellness; Jude Hehman, City of Ft. Mitchell, Mayor; Vicki Boerger, City of Ft. Mitchell; Mark Tranbarger, WesBanco-Sponsor; Adam Fuller, City of Ft. Mitchell; Andrew Schierberg, City of Ft. Mitchell

BRAXTON BARREL HOUSE 5 Orphanage Road | Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017 | (859) 331-0296 | www.braxtonbrewing.com PICTURED: Mark Tranbarger, WesBanco-Sponsor; Adam Fuller, City of Ft. Mitchell; Kevin Garrett, Civista Bank; David Birdsall; Jude Hehman, City of Ft. Mitchell, Mayor; Evan Rouse, Braxton Barrel House; Jake Rouse, Braxton Barrel House; Brent Cooper, NKY Chamber, President; Bill Remke; Jane Young, ReMax AffiliatesNKY Chamber Ambassador; Julie Kearns, WesBanco-Sponsor; Connie Flynn, Erigo-NKY Chamber Ambassador


We want to help you promote and celebrate your ribbon cutting ceremony for your new facility, expansion, anniversary celebration or open house! We’ll bring our trademark giant blue scissors, a group of Chamber ambassadors, and a camera to capture the excitement of your special day. Call Lynn Abeln at (859) 578-6390 to schedule your FREE ribbon cutting today!


Ribbon Cuttings Sponsored by:


RIBBON CUTTINGS CARE NET PREGNANCY 7129 Price Pike | Florence KY, 41042 | (859) 282-9878 | www.carenetnky.org PICTURED: Jennifer Hall, Care Net Pregnancy; Patty Haubner, Care Net Pregnancy; Tammy Warner, Care Net Medical Manager; Mathew Darpel, Care Net Board Member; Lyndi Zembrodt, Care Net Executive Director; Father Mathew Cushing, All Saints Church-Care Net Board Member; Tara Rapp, Care Net Pregnancy; Gene Kirchner, NKY Chamber; Sandy Williams, Care Net Pregnancy

CITIZENS DEPOSIT BANK 136 Plaza Drive | Cold Spring, KY 41076 | (859) 441-1450 | www.cdbt.com PICTURED: Becky Vaugh, Full Throttle-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Scott Stewart, Dwyer Insurance-NKY Chamber Ambassador, several people; Brent Cooper, NKY Chamber; Denise Sigmon, Citizens Deposit Bank; Jamie Dickie, ITA Audio & Visual-NKY Chamber Ambassador

C.O.R.E. HEALTH CENTERS OF FLORENCE 5900 Centennial Circle, Suite 180 | Florence, KY 41042 | (859) 620-1325 | www.gotcore.net PICTURED: Sarah Egggleston, CORE Health; Taylor Eggleston; Chevelle Eggleston; Scott Neill, CORE Health; Brent Cooper, NKY Chamber President; Hanah Bohmer, CORE Health; Dr. Kristen Van De Carr, CORE Health; Olivia Buede, CORE Health; Chriastine Hermann, CORE Health; Jeremiah Holmes, CORE Health; Gina Holmes, CORE Health; Julie Kearns, WesBanco-Sponsor



RIBBON CUTTINGS DHL/ST. ELIZABETH CLINIC 236 Wendell Ford Blvd | Erlanger, KY 41018 PICTURED: Abby Forrester, DHL Safety; Tiffany Steward, DHL Safety; Lisa Nickoles, St Elizabeth APRN; Colin Beynon, DHL Vice President; Michelle Durham, St Elizabeth APRN; Tina Legris St. Elizabeth; Stan Pinkiewicz, DHL Safety; Chris Carle, St. Elizabeth; Angela Ward, St Elizabeth; Brent Cooper, NKY Chamber President

FAIRFIELD INN & SUITES CINCINNATI AIRPORT 5910 Merchants Street | Florence, KY 41042 | (859) 545-4828 | www.marriott.com PICTURED: Alan Martin, Fairfield Inn & Suites; Lynn Abeln, NKY Chamber; Gary Offill, Fairfield Inn & Suites; Candace Collins, M Gibson Hotels; Gary Winn, City of Florence-City Council; Julie Kearns, WesBanco-Sponsor

FRISCH'S 2112 Declaration Drive | Independence, KY 41051 | (859) 356-3888 | www.frischs.com PICTURED: Omer, Frisch’s Store Manager; Dawn Denham, NKY Chamber, Alan Brinker, Frisch’s Regional Vice President; Chris Reinersman, City of Independence Mayor; Connie Flynn, Erigo-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Chris Moriconi, City of Independence



RIBBON CUTTINGS GO PANTRY 7960 Kentucky Drive | Florence, KY 41042 | (859) 760-6480 | www.gopantry.org PICTURED: Josh Anderson, Florence Freedom-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Beth McIntire, Go Pantry; Laura Dumancic, Go Pantry; Jeff Loy, PEI-Dynamic Supply Chain Solutions-NKY Chamber Ambassador; and friends and family of Go Pantry

INTEGRITY EXPRESS LOGISTICS 50 East RiverCenter Blvd | Covington, KY 41011 | (859) 684-8180 | www.intxlog.com PICTURED: Brian Rule, Integrity Express Logistics; Matt Ventura, Integrity Express Logistics; Matt Glacken, Integrity Express Logistics; Joe Meyer, City of Covington Mayor

MALONE WORKFORCE SOLUTIONS 8460 US 42, Suite C | Florence, KY 41042 | (859) 663-4076 | www.malonesolutions.com PICTURED: Jon Engelhard, Huntington Bank-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Drew McDonald, NKY Chamber; Tim Malone, Malone Workforce Solutions; Carina Barrera, Malone Workforce Solutions; John Steigerwald, Malone Workforce Solutions; Beth Delano, Malone Workforce Solutions; Amy Shah, Malone Workforce Solutions; Dawn Meyer, Malone Workforce Solutions; Ruby Zuniga, Malone Workforce Solutions; Terry Malone; Malone Workforce Solutions; Gene Kirchner, NKY Chamber; Scott Stewart, Dwyer InsuranceNKY Chamber Ambassador



RIBBON CUTTINGS PANERA CRESCENT SPRINGS 622 Buttermilk Pike | Crescent Springs, KY 41017 | (859) 916-6049 | www.planetbread.com PICTURED: Jane Young, Re/Max Affiliates-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Lynn Abeln, NKY Chamber; Terry Foster, St. Elizabeth; Kurt Moeller, St. Elizabeth; Ann Marie Whelan, NKY Chamber; Lisa Speier, St. Elizabeth; Dawn Denham, NKY Chamber; Mary Lynn Brunemann, St. Elizabeth; Brad Loosle, Panera; Melanie Murray, Panera; Leslie Mink, Panera; Katey Childers, Manager, Panera; Lou Hartfiel, Crescent Springs Mayor; Troy Fedders, St. Elizabeth; Luanne Weismiller, Panera; Sara Kahmann, Welcome House, NKY Chamber Ambassador

STATE FARM MICHAEL CARSON 2216 Dixie Highway, Suite L4 | Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017 | (859) 466-7299| www.consultwithcason.com PICTURED: Mark Tranbarger, WesBanco-Sponsor; Connie Flynn, ErigoNKY Chamber Ambassador; Brent Cooper, NKY Chamber, President; Michael Cason, State Farm; Cindy Cason, State Farm; Jude Hehman, City of Ft. Mitchell, Mayor; Andrew Schierberg, City of Ft. Mitchell; Adam Fuller, City of Ft. Mitchell; Vicki Boerger, City of Ft. Mitchell

WELCOME HOUSE MOBILE UNIT 1132 Greenup Street | Covington, KY 41015 | (859) 431-8717 | www.welcomehouseky.org PICTURED: Sara Kahmann, Welcome House; Prescott Osterbrock, Waddell & Reed-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Kelly Rose, Welcome House; Sean Truesdale, Anthem; Danielle Amrine, Welcome House; Gene Kirchner, NKY Chamber; Justin Beale, Welcome House; Morgan Koranda, Welcome House; Clare Zlatic Blankemeyer, The Manuel D. and Rhoda Mayerson Foundation; Lorraine Wilson, Welcome House; Kashauna Shepherd, Welcome House; Sandra Añez Powell, Welcome House; Anthem Representatives; Dr. Lynne Saddler, Northern Kentucky Health Department; John Keller, PNC Bank-NKY Chamber Ambassador




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859-905-5556 Crestview Hills • Ft. Mitchell • Florence • Union Member FDIC



Member Milestones STRATEGIC HR INC.



Inc. Magazine has ranked Cincinnatibased strategic HR inc. at 3,818 on its 2019 list of the 5,000 fastest growing private companies in America. It is the second time in two years that the firm has received the honor. The prestigious ranking represents the super heroes of the U.S. economy. They are ranked according to percentage of revenue growth over a three-year period. 2019 has been a banner year for strategic HR. It was recently named a semi-finalist for the Goering Center Family and Private Business Awards, the recipient of the Woman-Owned Business of the Year by the Clermont Chamber and a Business Impact Award finalist by the NKY Chamber. The Cincinnati Business Courier named strategic HR a Best Places to Work finalist in 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2019. Known for delivering a full spectrum of HR services across all industries since 1995, strategic HR works closely with companies to fully comprehend their strategy and then design an HR approach to fit the company’s needs. They recruit top talent, provide comprehensive training and development for employees, can serve as the HR department for a firm, create competitive benefits and compensation, design effective employee communications and employee relations and assist in maintaining careful recordkeeping as well as consult on health, safety and security issues. The company has been a visionary in the human resources industry by recognizing the growing need for businesses to be nimble and able to access HR components as they work away from the office.

A national bakery-café concept offering everything from Cinnamon Crunch Bagels and Carmel Lattes to Baja Grain Bowls and an appealing environment can be selective in its site selection process. But, NKY is in its current bullseye for development. As a strategic part of its overall Cincinnati expansion plan, Panera Bread recently double its footprint in the NKY market. Ohio-headquartered Covelli Enterprises, the largest franchisee of Panera Bread, scheduled three NKY grand openings in 2019, bringing the total number of bakery-cafes in NKY to six, and total in the tristate area to 28. Each new neighborhood bakery-café showcases the latest next-generation Panera Bread design that includes stateof-the-art bakery displays, contemporary furnishings, earth tones and farmhousechic interior appeal. In addition, all three new NKY locations feature a drive-thru, outdoor patio, online ordering, and fastlane kiosks. Covelli Enterprises has not only invested in the growth of the Panera brand in the Bluegrass State, but in the well-being of this community through thriving partnerships with Florence Freedom, Disabled American Veterans, St. Elizabeth Foundation, and most recently, a full-scale sponsorship of NKU Athletics.

Intrinzic recently celebrated 20 years in business, a major milestone for any organization, especially one working in the challenging world of brand development. Intrinzic started as a small graphic design company and has grown to become one of the region’s most respected branding and integrated marketing firms, thriving through four presidents, two economic downturns and the rapid growth of social media. “Despite dramatic changes in the industry and in our market, we’ve remained committed to having an impact in our clients’ businesses, our community and each other,” said Wendy Vonderhaar, CEO. “I’m continually inspired by the talent and dedication of our team as we push the boundaries of what we do each day. We also credit the many team members, clients and partners we've worked with over the years who have been instrumental to our success. We couldn't have come this far without all of them.” — SHARE YOUR GOOD NEWS!

All NKY Chamber members are invited to share announcements & personal achievements in the Milestones column. Send Milestones to bgastright@nkychamber.com



EVENTS NOVEMBER 11/7 11/13 11/14 11/18 11/19 11/19 11/19 11/21 11/25 11/26

Business Growth: “METworking” at the Metropolitan Club | 3:00 – 5:00 PM Business Growth: Top 10 Mistakes Business Owners Make in Tax, Succession & Estate Planning | NKY Chamber | 8:00 – 11:30 AM Women’s Initiative Fall Professional Series | 7 Hills Church | 7:30 – 9:00 AM Women’s Initiative CONNECT Hour | Soul Unique Consignment Boutique | 4:30 – 6:30 PM Eggs ‘N Issues: Regional Economic Outlook | Receptions | 7:30 – 9:15 AM Workforce: Employer Legal Roundtable w/Beth Silvers | NKY Chamber | 11:30 – 1:00 PM International: USA/Japan Trade Agreement | New Riff Distilling | 3:30 – 5:00 PM HR 100: Creative Employee Branding | Hilton (Airport) | 7:30 – 9:30 AM Government Forum: E-Cigarettes | SETEC | 4:00 - 5:30 PM Business/Sales Essentials: 5 Steps to Boost Sales w/Social Media | NKY Chamber | 10:00 – 11:00 AM

Northern Kentucky Business Journal is published bi-monthly by: Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Inc. 300 Buttermilk Pike Suite 330 P.O. Box 17416 Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017 859-578-8800 NKYChamber.com The Business Journal is a benefit of membership and included in membership fees. Annual subscription rate for nonmembers is $24. Periodicals Postage Paid USPS-548630 at Covington, KY. Postmaster: Please send address changes to the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, 300 Buttermilk Pike, Suite 330, P.O. Box 17416 , Ft. Mitchell, KY 41017-0416.


Subscribers: Please send address changes by e-mail to info@nkychamber.com.

12/1 12/5 12/10 12/12 12/12 12/17

© 2019, The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and by the individual authors. All rights reserved.

Regional Youth Leadership Applications Open for Current HS Sophomores NKYP: Holiday Giving Party | Braxton Brewing Barrel House | 4:30 – 7:00 PM Eggs ‘N Issues: Riverfront Development | Receptions | 7:30 – 9:00 AM Getting the Most from Your Chamber Membership | NKY Chamber | 10 – 11 AM Business After Hours | TBD | 4:30 – 6:30 PM Where We Stand | Triple Crown Country Club | 4:30 – 6:30 PM

JANUARY 1/10 1/14 1/16 1/21 1/23 1/23 1/27

Vice President, Public Affairs & Communications Kristin Baldwin | kbaldwin@nkychamber.com Marketing / Communications Director Jeremy Schrand | jschrand@nkychamber.com Design & Photography Ben Gastright | bgastright@nkychamber.com

RYL Fundraiser: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat | The Carnegie | 7:00 PM Women’s Initiative Annual Breakfast | NKY Convention Center | 7:00 – 9:30 AM HR 100: Hiring Bias | Kenton County Library, Erlanger | 7:30 – 9:30 AM Eggs ‘N Issues: KY Legislative Preview | Receptions | 7:30 – 9:15 AM International: Geopolitical Climate & Impact on Foreign Currency (Brexit) | NKY Chamber | 11:30 – 1:00 PM Pints & Perspectives : Balancing Career & Wellness | TBD | 4:30 – 6:00 PM Women’s Initiative CONNECT Hour | Silverlake, The Family Place | 4:30 – 6:30 PM


CEO/Publisher Brent Cooper | bcooper@nkychamber.com

Vice President Membership – Sponsorship Sales Lynn Abeln | labeln@nkychamber.com Director, Sponsor Investments Diana McGlade | dmcglade@nkychamber.com Chamber Communications Committee Kit Andrews, Karen Cornelissen, Mindy Kershner, Katie Scoville Louis, William Powell, Kelly Rose, Charley Wayman & Casey Williams


PICTURED: The panelists sharing their insights on how each rose to the top of their profession at the Women’s Initiative Regional Summit held Oct. 22 were Karen Forgus, Senior VP Business Operations, The Cincinnati Reds; Christi H. Cornette, Chief Culture Officer, Cincinnati Bell Inc.; and Sylvia Buxton, President & CEO, Perfetti Van Melle USA. Photo by Ben Gastright. PAGE 46


Profile for Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

NKY Business Journal November/December 2019  

Small Business Edition, Volume 39, Number 1

NKY Business Journal November/December 2019  

Small Business Edition, Volume 39, Number 1