Northern Kentucky Business Journal | May/June 2023

Page 6

Southern Serving Up Hospitality

MAY/JUNE 2023

P. 10 SOCIAL MEDIA MOGULS

P. 14 THE BLUEGRASS IS GREENER

P. 18 SMALL BIZ SPOTLIGHT: eat well celebrations and feasts

P.

24 COVER
BUSINESS JOURNAL OFFICIAL MAGAZINE OF NKY CHAMBER
STORY
Since 1948, HORAN has served as a trusted advisor providing legendary service, support and partnership in employee benefits consulting, wealth management and life insurance for estate and business planning. HORAN is proud to support the Northern Kentucky Chamber. In Pursuit of What Matters Most. www.horanassoc.com | 800.544.8306 Celebrating 75 Years of Service.
TOURISM MAY/JUNE 2023 VOLUME 42, NUMBER 5 CONTENTS 4 Chair's Letter 6 Coming Attractions 10 Social Media Moguls 14 The Bluegrass is Greener 18 Small Business Spotlight: eat well celebrations and feasts 20 That's Entertainment 24 Southern Hospitality 28 GROW NKY 30 Staycation Destinations 34 Around the Chamber 40 Ribbon Cuttings 42 Member Milestones 46 Events 18 30 ON THE COVER: The Famous Flattop burger with Pecorino Tots and a fresh pint at Y'all Café Rivercenter. eat well celebrations and feasts BB Riverboats Y' all Cafe 24 TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 3

WHAT MAKES A PLACE A GREAT DESTINATION? IS IT UNIQUE

attractions that you can’t find anywhere else? Perhaps it is experiences that define a region, providing memories that cut across generations, complete with a rich history, scenic views, opportunities for recreation, great careers and a diverse, welcoming community …

When it comes to Northern Kentucky, the answer to all the questions above is “yes” – and this issue goes to great depths to illustrate just why that is.

Having been fortunate to travel around the globe for professional and personal reasons, I know firsthand that being a welcoming destination goes far beyond the presence of a nice resort, restaurant or attraction. Make no mistake, those things are certainly important – who doesn’t like a scenic beach or delicious meal? – but the people that help craft and create the memories we cherish bring everything full circle. Our region is filled with great individuals who continue to push it forward to make it appealing to those who live here and visitors who may be inclined to take up residence here one day.

Food is a significant aspect of a region’s culture, community and a point of pride; both our cover feature on Y’all Café and Small Business Spotlight on eat well celebrations and feasts highlight how making this connection is an important aspect of life in Northern Kentucky. Likewise, our feature on the arts showcases the rich cultural opportunities that can be enjoyed on both sides of the Ohio River by visitors and residents alike.

Then again, this should not surprise anyone familiar with the efforts of meetNKY, BE NKY and our respective counties’ economic leadership to constantly make sure our region is not only appealing but vibrant and rich in opportunity. “Rising Up” is a fantastic read into all the reasons Conde Nast has deemed our region a “must visit” for 2023; “Coming Attractions” provides strong insight into the efforts being made on a local level to ensure our region has the infrastructure necessary to keep pace with and exceed our neighbors. Both articles show not only the importance of bringing people to Northern Kentucky but also the impact of these efforts on our economy and the battle to attract and retain world-class talent.

For in all my travels globally, Northern Kentucky is where I have decided to call home – and I can’t imagine anywhere else I’d rather be. I hope this issue bolsters your pride to call our region home and you’ll join me in working to make it a great place for so many to live, work and play. NKY

INVESTOR'S CIRCLE

CHAIR’S LETTER
JOHN HAWKINS Chair, NKY Chamber President & CEO, MPI Consulting
NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 4

Coming Soon to a County Near You

Boone, Campbell and Kenton county administrators look for new developments to attract, retain visitors, talent

BOONE COUNTY ADMINISTRATOR AND DEPUTY JUDGE

Administrator Jeff Earlywine, Campbell County Economic and Community Development Director Justin Otto and Community Development Manager for Kenton County Dr. Joshua Wice are keenly aware of the economics of Northern Kentucky. With Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties respectively constituting the third largest metropolitan area in the Commonwealth, their commitment to ensuring the stability and growth of those economies is understandable.

What might not be such common knowledge, however, is the role that economic development plays in their counties when it comes to tourism, talent attraction and retention.

“Tourism definitely has a role and place in the well-being and the success of our local economy here in Northern Kentucky and Boone County,” Earlywine says. “We continue to move forward at a very impressive clip, and I think part of that reason is because of the diversity of our economy and everything that we are. Certainly, tourism is part of that.”

Otto, a former general manager for Newport on the Levee, agrees.

“I don't think it would be a surprise to say that for most people in America planning their vacations, Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky are probably not first on the list of destinations. However, when I was at the Levee during spring break, there were families from Lexington, Louisville, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Columbus within that three- to four-hour driving distance,” Otto says. “There are so many attractions that make planning a three- or four-day trip easy – that's where we're really lucky. Once they’re here, they get to see how cool the entire region is.”

What are the big, exciting coming attractions that will help bring more people to the region? Learn all about the developments that will help shape the future of Northern Kentucky.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 6
PICTURED: Aerial view of construction progress on the mixed-use development at Ovation in Newport. Photo provided by Corporex.

Boone County

While he “can’t point to one project focused exclusively on tourism,” Earlywine says there are several developments that stand to serve as points of interest to future visitors.

This includes “quiet conversations” about improving sports tourism which he says could result in the development of some “really high-quality regional sports venues” hosting tournaments and in turn, visitors from surrounding states. Also of importance, Earlywine says, is improving the county’s existing assets such as Lassing Pointe Golf Course in Union. Likewise, he says Boone County must continue building upon its industrial gains like the “important economic engine” that is the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG).

“When you're trying to attract companies to come to Northern Kentucky with good paying jobs, together with our existing companies, and so that they'll want to expand in place here in Boone County, it takes a workforce. It takes good housing, good schools and overall, it takes quality of life,” Earlywine says.

He believes Northern Kentucky is well on its way to achieving that goal.

“Our region is very well positioned for continuing successes. When you look at our most significant assets, CVG, Northern Kentucky University and Thomas Moore, St. Elizabeth Healthcare … If you look at all the transportation projects that are either under construction or on the drawing board right now, the region is in a great position to hopefully go to the next level here in the next 5-10 years,” he says. “We've got really good days ahead of us in Northern Kentucky.”

Campbell County

As a Newport native who grew up in a home two blocks from where he now works, Otto is passionate about Campbell County – a passion now partially fueled by the slate of developments currently underway.

Newport has several projects underway that seek to revolutionize its riverfront setting, headlined by the $100 million investment at Otto’s former employer, Newport on the Levee, and $1 billion mixed-use development at Ovation. Sitting at the confluence of the Ohio and Licking rivers in Newport, the Ovation project includes MegaCorp Pavilion, a $40 million concert/event venue that opened in 2021, a Homewood Suites Hotel, a five-story office building and luxury residences in the form of the Boardwalk Residences at Ovation. The project is also expected to create hundreds of jobs both during construction and long-term.

“It's tough to find a billion-dollar development anywhere in the country, so Ovation is really, really special, from a tourism standpoint and as a very cool catalyst, especially for positive change, for the west side of Newport,” Otto says.

Looking beyond Newport, Otto points to new home construction such as the Fisher Homes’ developments at Memorial Pointe and the Reserve of Parkside in Southgate and Alexandria as examples of growth in the county. Likewise, several businesses are also contributing to Campbell County’s economic stability. Thermo Fisher Scientific is committed to building a $59 million clinical research facility and lab services creating 200 new jobs; this past December saw the Prysmian Group complete a $7.2 million renovation of its North American headquarters in Highland Heights.

This is in addition to the $4.5 million investment via the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to provide access to fiber-to-the-premise gigabit internet access to every residence in Campbell County. This internet access has been pledged to be provided by altafiber to all 207,000 consumer addresses in Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties by the summer of 2024.

Jeff Earlywine Justin Otto Dr. Joshua Wice
TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 7

“When it's completed, Boone, Kenton and Campbell will be the largest area in the United States with 1 GB of fiber available to every household. In talking about attracting people or businesses here,” Otto says. “That's pretty unheard of … That groundwork is going to be transformational.”

Otto says all the developments will help showcase why the lifestyle available in Northern Kentucky could eventually rival anywhere nationwide.

Kenton County

Like Otto, Wice says the altafiber installation is “very important” for Northern Kentucky, noting that Kenton County is focused on being “site ready” for potential businesses looking to move to the area. Having places to live ready for those looking to move to the area is also paramount, which is why he points to Fisher Homes’ new Siena at Tuscany development and Drees Homes’ building of singlefamily and condominium homes in Erlanger as important developments.

Directly tied to tourism, the opening of North by Hotel Covington provides a new luxury boutique retreat in the heart of downtown Covington, one of several projects its owners, The Salyers Group, has in the area. However, the biggest project stirring interest may be the Covington Central Riverfront project.

Formerly the home of IRS’ tax-processing facility, the project – which Wice notes is under Covington’s auspices– is a 23-acre “blank canvas.” As Covington Economic Development Director Tom West noted on the city’s website (covingtonky.gov), the site will feature a mix of “single-family detached urban homes to office buildings, mixed-use structures and even a distillery/brewery.” This includes a more than $70 million infrastructure investment featuring a 670-car garage and public gathering spaces the city hopes to have partially developed by local businesses.

Noting the business attraction efforts of regional economic organizations like BE NKY Growth Partnership and REDI Cincinnati in helping bring new opportunities to the region, Wice is excited to see what comes next.

“I have been in both public and private sector economic and community development for over 15 years. There’s been a lot of positive momentum during that time, but even more so currently. You really have organizations with great leadership working together,” he says. “You have a lot of vibrancy around the airport, around Northern Kentucky University … It brings the three counties together. Specifically, in Kenton County, we are proactively and seriously working in each community to help identify priorities and drive development efforts forward as a team.” NKY

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 8

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Social Media Moguls

Social Media Moguls

INFLUENCER MARKETING MIGHT

seem like the wave of the future for some small business owners; however, Candace Gasper has a simple message for them.

The future is now.

“The future of marketing and advertising is about experiences,” says Gasper, owner of the Newport-based Digital Candy marketing firm she founded in 2019. “Advertisements are no longer going to be the traditional ‘Buy Here, Save This.’ Now, it is about creating and cultivating an experience through the ad so the ad doesn’t feel like an ad – it will feel as if you were able to experience the bar, restaurant, city, or product for yourself, which is why influencer marketing is crucial.”

UNDER THE INFLUENCE

In case you hadn’t heard, influencer marketing – utilizing people with sizeable to large social media followings to review, experience and/or use your product, service and/or business – isn’t a novelty anymore. Numerous social media surveys have revealed the same truth about the

practice: Many consumers find influencers’ content engaging, helpful and, most importantly, trustworthy when it comes to purchasing items from brands. The practice exploded during the height of the pandemic, with people turning from store displays and TV screens to mobile devices to research, explore and ultimately purchase many of their basic goods and services.

Gasper’s firm specializes in connecting local businesses to influencers. Why? Because in creating strong relationships with both the personalities and their followers, brands can utilize that influence to bring a new audience to their business through good, old-fashioned word of mouth – within a digital space.

“Influencer marketing scratches the voyeur that lives inside of all of us. We get to see life through someone else's eyes, a real person’s eyes, not a celebrity who has a life that we can only dream of … If you're viewing content from an influencer showcasing an area, it makes that place seem more accessible,” she says. “We have so many options when we’re planning a trip, even locally, so it’s

hard to know which reviews to trust. But if you have an influencer that you trust and follow and they say, ‘I was just at Pensive Distilling in Newport, Kentucky, they had an amazing brunch and the bourbon tour was incredible,’ you’d say, “Ok cool – if they liked it, I’ll probably like it too.’”

SATISFIED CUSTOMER

Steve Del Gardo knows that to be true. A former Digital Candy client, Del Gardo’s business experienced a 20–25% increase in social media followers after every influencer event, increasing its revenue from weddings in the process.

Those results are why he believes others would be wise to consider using influencers to grow their business.

“Influencer-themed events at Del Gardo’s have helped propel us in various markets which increased sales,” Del Gardo says. “Influencers are a key component of any business. With their follower reach, they can make you become a success overnight. We control the cannoli market in the Midwest and are now in the process of being a national brand.”

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 10
How working with digital influencers can benefit local businesses

WORKING WITH INFLUENCERS – A BEGINNER’S GUIDE

Here are Gasper’s tips on how to successfully find and work with influencers. Think big by going small. Instead of trying to find someone with 10,000+ followers, look to hire micro-influencers (those with 1,500 to 9,000 followers) who may be more affordable and effective in marketing your business.

Gasper: “They have a smaller, tight-knit audience so it’s easier to maintain a connection with their followers. Some influencers have 250K+ followers and they do a great job at maintaining that strong connection with their audience. But when you get into that range, you’ll often encounter higher payment terms, and it may be more difficult to get on their content calendars.”

Examine the rules of engagement. Having a lot of followers is great for an influencer; making sure they are engaging with them is better for your business.

Gasper: “When trying to source influencers for a campaign look at their comments and ask yourself ‘How are they engaging with their audience?’ Are they responding to messages? Are they having conversations or just leaving strings of emojis? Strings of emojis can be a form of communication, but to build a real connection – you must also use words.”

Establish and make sure your influencer delivers on deliverables.

Gasper: “Establish expectations up front, for example, ‘We need you to do three Instagram or Facebook Stories. We need one Instagram Reel and we’d like to do a giveaway together for a total of five pieces of content,’ If you can be clear and definitive on what you’re expecting them to produce, the happier both of you will be. Communication is key when it comes to influencer marketing.”

Clearly outline compensation terms. Curious about how to properly pay an influencer? Gasper recommends establishing a rate based on five factors: (1) Engagement rate, (2) Following, (3) Vibe, (4) Your instincts and (5) If necessary, referral incentives.

Gasper: “In addition to making sure their following fits and they are engaging their audience, ask yourself, ‘Is this someone in our target market, would they use this product and/or visit this business if they aren’t currently a customer?’ If ‘yes,’ do they align with our branding and values, and if ‘no,’ do we feel like they would be?”

In terms of actual costs, Gasper encourages businesses to have an open conversation about it. Compensation can vary based on several factors such as audience size and the number of pieces and types of content being created.

Incorporate tracking to measure your influencer’s success. Track your influencer’s campaign and remember that long-term goals may not always have short-term success.

Gasper: “Incorporating tracking when working with an influencer is very important. If you give an influencer $500 to make a piece of content, you may not necessarily get $500 out of it right away. If you put that kind of pressure on them, you’re looking for a sales manager, not an influencer. But you should monitor the success of the content they're putting out. This can be done by checking engagement, impressions, and reach. You can also create coupon codes for the influencer to share which can allow you to track the success of their role in the campaign. This is advantageous to both you and the influencer.” NKY

TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 11
PICTURED: (page 10, top right) Candace Gasper, photo by Kellie Coleman. (above, from the top) Alexander McQueen, Chief Officer of Pub-lick Relatioans, photo by Tiffany Marie Photography; bone-in wings and a beer from Pensive Distilling, chicken sliders from Pensive Distilling, photos provided by Pensive; Zombie Cannoli. Del Gardo's Cannoli, photo by Catie Viox.
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The Bluegrass is Greener

meetNKY projecting a record-setting year in tourism for 2023 and beyond

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 14
PICTURED: A disc golfer readies a drive at the world-reknowned Idlewild Disc Golf Course in Burlington during the 2022 LWS Open on the Disc Golf Pro Tour.

IF YOU’RE A BELIEVER IN THE adage that “numbers never lie,” meetNKY President and CEO Julie Kirkpatrick has exciting news to share.

“People making the decision to visit Northern Kentucky and the Cincy Region has never been stronger. Our hotel community and its revenues grew 19.4% in 2022 compared to 2021. That's phenomenal as it represents a 6% growth in demand,” says Kirkpatrick about the current state of local tourism. “CVG International Airport had a 21% growth in passengers in 2022. As we're starting to look at the indicators, all our attractions have seen double-digit growth in visitation.”

The reasons behind the impressive growth have been revealed and Kirkpatrick hopes the region can continue pushing forward to ensure it its full potential.

The (Blue)grass is Greener

Turfway Park Racing and Gaming was the host site for meetNKY’s annual meeting, the theme of which was “The Winner’s Circle” emphasizing the region’s growth in tourism. New Florence Mayor Dr. Julie Aubuchon opened with a welcoming address preceding remarks by Salyers Group President and CEO/meetNKY Board of Commissioners Chair Guy van Rooyen. Next, Visit Cincy President and CEO Julie Calvert shared the success of its Cincy Region partnership. Mona Lewis Juett, Chief of Staff of Kentucky Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, followed by discussing the $165 million the Commonwealth invested in tourism in 2022.

Revival Vintage Spirits & Bottle Shop’s Shannon Smith and Brad Bonds were then presented with the meetNKY 2022 Star of Tourism Award, which honors “ongoing contributions to travel in tourism” in the region. Kirkpatrick then returned to the stage to discuss meetNKY’s 2023 initiatives; Northern Kentucky native turned aspiring Nashville musician Chace Saunders closed the event with a musical medley of original and cover songs.

TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 15
PICTURED: (top to bottom) Photos from the meetNKY Annual Meeting: Julie Kirkpatrick addresses the audience; Renee & Mark Looy, Ark Encounter; Matt Robinson, Old Kentucky Bourbon Bar; Revival Bottle Shop, Star of Tourism Award recipient; Florence Mayor Dr. Julie Aubuchon; Chase Saunders

If it sounds like the meeting was meant to serve as a pep rally of all things Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati, that’s because it was. Kirkpatrick says Northern Kentucky is now in the 90th percentile compared to 2019 with leisure travel having “never been stronger” than it is currently. Given the $1.72 billion tourism generated for the region in 2022, that might be hard to dispute.

What’s driving that boom? Several things, according to Kirkpatrick – Northern Kentucky’s status as the entry point to the Commonwealth’s famous bourbon trail and the south among them.

“Our Northern Kentucky regional bourbon distilleries experienced an 11% growth in visitation in 2022. Bourbon is on fire,” Kirkpatrick says. “Everyone saw the Kentucky Distillers Association's recent report that two million people visited Kentucky distilleries in 2022. That momentum is going to keep going, so it was a great year.”

Alcohol isn’t the only thing fueling – pun intended – Northern Kentucky’s tourism success, however. Kirkpatrick says CVG’s addition of national and international flights via Breeze Airways and British Airways will bring even more visitors, many attending tentpole events like the Cincinnati Music Festival and this summer’s Taylor Swift concerts. With perennial draws like the Kentucky Derby, the Ark Encounter/Creation Museum, plus sporting events, numerous art institutions and more, Kirkpatrick says it’s no wonder Conde Nast Traveler recognized the region as one of its 23 must-visit destinations for 2023.

What does this mean for Northern Kentucky’s hotels, restaurants and retail businesses? Plenty.

“The great thing for small businesses is that when the visitors come here, they want to experience what the locals get to experience: the smaller, more unique boutiques and restaurants and experiences that we have … They want to take advantage while they're here and have that authentic, local experience,” she says. “We're a $1.7 billion industry here in Northern Kentucky, and we employ close to 12,000 people … These visitors – and we get a lot of them in the region, millions annually – are leaving behind a big economic impact.”

Thinking of a Master Plan

What’s another factor that has helped cultivate the current rise in tourism? Collaboration between organizations like meetNKY, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the BE NKY Growth Partnership. Calling their collective efforts “the handshake” that helps get people interested in the region, Kirkpatrick says visitors will often do a “deeper dive” during their stay.

Working off its 2022 Tourism Master Plan, meetNKY will be undertaking major consultant studies on the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and sports facility development this year. In doing so, Kirkpatrick says the hope is to draw more amateur sports to the region among other targeted groups.

“Visitors now think, ‘What an amazing quality of life, access we have to arts, sports and culture with great transportation with CVG and the interstates,’” she says. “While they may have come here for a convention, a concert or simply to experience bourbon, they start to take a closer look at choosing this destination long-term.”

Given all the great reasons to visit, Kirkpatrick – who is confident she “will be talking about a record-breaking year come this time in 2024” – believes the best is yet to come.

“When it comes to winning the Super Bowl of tourism, Northern Kentucky is winning,” she says. “We're the number two destination in the state of Kentucky for economic impact. We have jumped over Lexington, and we're not done yet.” NKY

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 16
PICTURED: (top) meetNKY staff photo at the Annual Meeting at Turfway Park Raving and Gaming; (middle) Creola Dickerson, Head Single Barrel Ambassadorat New Riff, hosts a barrel pick for a group of friends from Michigan. (bottom) A toast of beer and bourbon on the Purple People Bridge.
PAGE 17 TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5

SMALL BUSINESS SPOTLIGHT

Newport business produces memorable meals throughout the region

The name of her company is not simply an attempt at being catchy or kitschy; in the case of eat well celebrations and feasts, it’s simply how Owner and Chef Renee Schuler approaches every event she undertakes.

“To me, cooking is a wonderful, enjoyable thing that I’ve always seen as something that can be an incredibly beautiful and enjoyable experience,” says Schuler. “At eat well, we have food metrics that we look at: Flavor, texture, color and temperature and our fifth metric is ‘wow’ – I love thinking about food,” says Schuler.

Combining her creative and scientific sides brings an added layer of excitement to cooking for the area native.

“I think I have a little bit of my mother, who was a visual artist, and my father, who was an oral and maxillofacial surgeon, in me,” says Schuler. “Cooking combines both of those in an incredible way as you must approach it with an open and creative mind, but there is also a science behind it. The more you learn about the science behind cooking, the easier it is to take your creative ideas and translate them into something spectacular.”

Given the fact she’s approaching nearly 20 years in business, plenty of people throughout Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky can’t wait to see – and taste – what she cooks up next.

APPETITE FOR SUCCESS

Housed inside the 20,000 square foot former home of Bernhard’s Bakery and the Yorkshire Club in Newport, eat well has provided catering services since 2005. Schuler, now residing in Covington, opened her business upon her return from New York City, the site where she began her culinary career at the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan. Working for companies owned by renowned chefs Bobby Flay and Daniel Boulud during her time in the Big Apple, Schuler eventually made her way back home to be closer to family. Working for various restaurants and catering companies, Schuler says one of her sisters, a visual artist like their mother, asked if she could cater her art opening. Fastforward two decades and Schuler has never looked back.

With a bachelor’s degree in psychology from DePauw University in Indiana, Schuler is keen to note the impact of food in connection to people’s feelings about a particular experience. That is one reason why she enjoys getting to serve as an unofficial ambassador for Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky when catering events for major events that draw significant out-of-town visitors.

By serving up good meals, she hopes that all those in attendance will leave with good memories of their time in the region.

“It is a big honor and huge responsibility to provide food and service for someone's wedding, big birthday event, anniversary, or even a corporate launch of any sort,” she says. “One of my favorite events we do is for Cincinnati Children's Hospital. There's an international meeting they host every other year with doctors traveling in from all around the world. Many of them have very high expectations, so I really do feel the responsibility of making sure that when they're here, they're experiencing excellence in not only the food but in the entire experience.”

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 18

RECIPE FOR SUCCESS

In addition to its catering services, eat well also features the Takeaway Shop, an online service where customers can select from a variety of options to create a meal for pickup or delivery. With meals often themed around major social and religious holidays, Schuler says the Takeaway Shop was key to eat well’s survival during the pandemic.

“It made a lot of sense, but it's also a great way to help those hosting smaller events, even if it's just two people celebrating the holidays together,” she says.

Schuler loves her work, not just for the joy it brings her but also for the joy it brings to all those she serves.

“Food is a great connector, bringing people together around the table; one of the things that I like to say is ‘Never underestimate the power of good food.’ Never underestimate the gift of bringing people around the table to have a delicious meal for connection – that is an incredible gift that you can give to your fellow human beings,” she says. “We like to make sure that all our guests are comfortable. That's our top priority and we do that through providing excellent food and service.” NKY

eat well celebrations and feasts AT A GLANCE

Address: 518 York Street, Newport, KY 41071

Phone: (859) 291-9355

Web site: www.eatwellonline.com

Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Monday–Friday

Founded: 2015

Services offered: Social, corporate and wedding catering; meals are also available (with delivery options) via its Takeaway Shop

Notable clients: Cincinnati Ballet, Cincinnati Opera, Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden, Cincinnati Parks Foundation, CVG/British Airways

TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 19
Chef Renee Schuler

That's Entertainment

Local arts institutions boost tourism, culture throughout Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati

THE 2022 ARTS VIBRANCY INDEX RANKED THE Cincinnati metropolitan area as the 12th most arts-vibrant location out of 900+ communities across the United States. The index, compiled annually by the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University, ranks communities based on the level of supply, demand and government support. Cincinnati is only one of four Midwest cities in the top 20; the ranking is an improvement upon its 2020 finish, where it came in 20th overall.

But what makes Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati so great for performing arts? It’s more than just talent (although that goes a long way). To find the answer, we asked the leaders at some of our region’s top-performing arts institutions for their insights.

Q: How do the arts and your institution help make Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati a tourist destination?

Tyler Gabbard, Director of Theatre, The Carnegie: At The Carnegie, 65% of our visitors are from outside a Northern Kentucky zip code. When people are here, they’re spending money and not just with us. Studies show that culture tourists on average spend an additional $32 in the city per ticket. A family of four might spend $150 on things like parking, dining, hotels and babysitting, the economic impact is inarguable and makes our region an attractive place to be both culturally and economically … Covington truly embraces the arts and the value they bring.

Laurie Risch, Executive Director, Behringer-Crawford Museum: There are multiple experiences and differences between all the venues. (They also allow) our organizations’ missions that enable us to offer our community a wide, wide variety.

At Behringer-Crawford, we have a 12-week summer music concert series and it's focused on Kentucky heritage music. You have jazz, blues, country, folk, and bluegrass, all that makes up our heritage, but it's brought forward with today's musicians. If you enjoy the outdoors, it makes for a very nice evening to be here in the park listening to music.

Scott Altman, President and CEO, Cincinnati Ballet: Cincinnati Ballet is one of the key organizations that makes up the constellation of fine-performing cultural arts institutions in the Greater Cincinnati area. All of the arts organizations are part of the region and its commitment to the classical performing arts. We have a very vibrant arts and culture sector, not to mention the destinations such as the Cincinnati Museum Center (at Union Terminal), the Cincinnati Art Museum, (the) Contemporary Arts Center. The Cincinnati Ballet is certainly one of the premiere ballet companies in the country.

J.R. Cassidy, Music/Executive Director, Kentucky Symphony Orchestra: The Greater Cincinnati region has a stable of fine performing arts organizations and museums. The KSO each year creates programming that is unique to the region

By Tabari McCoy , Scooter Media
NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 20
Gabbard Risch Altman Cassidy Robison

and sometimes the nation. Collaborating with national and international artists over three decades has brought people from other states and countries to see groups or films with the orchestra. The KSO’s thematic programming and efforts to make the concert experience attractive, accessible and affordable, have differentiated its offerings from other orchestras in the Tri-state and beyond.

Blake Robison, Producing Artistic Director, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park: I'm not sure if everyone realizes the extent of the national reputation that Greater Cincinnati has out in the world for a city our size. We have a tremendously diverse and high-level art scene, not only in theater, but in music and dance and all the various other cultural groups.

People like to say that Cincinnati punches above its weight class in terms of the arts. That’s a way to say you might expect to see institutions like we have in a city like Chicago, or LA or San Francisco. But for the Midwest, we are far, far ahead of many. I certainly am very aware of people traveling from out of town, coming down from Chicago to see plays and musicals … We give them more to do, we give them reasons to stick around for the entire weekend.

Q: How do our region’s performing arts institutions work together to enhance its culture?

Risch: We're all a piece of the pie, working together to create a vibrant Greater Cincinnati region. At Behringer-Crawford, our mission is to be able to share and tell the story of Northern Kentucky's history and culture and arts.

If someone comes into town and wants to learn about our region, come here. All of our institutions are family-friendly, fun and not static.

Tourism is extremely important to our region, but we also want to satisfying those who live here as well.

Gabbard: There is such a diversity of work happening here and the arts, both on this side of the river and in Cincinnati. There

are the big players like the Cincinnati Ballet, the symphonies, the Cincinnati Opera and the Playhouse in the Park, but the arts are happening at all levels for different audiences all year around … There’s so much young talent here that feeds all these arts organizations in the city that it makes for a very vital, vibrant scene.

Robison: I've worked in many cities – New York City, Washington, D.C., etc. This is the first place I've been where the arts community is collaborative and unified and aligned strategically about how to serve the community and how to draw tourists and businesses and young professionals to the area on a regular basis.

In other cities, a theater like ours would feel competitive with the others in town, but that is not the case here. Everyone gets along, everyone communicates, and we work in tandem.

The presence of ArtsWave, which is the largest unified Arts Fund in the country, makes a huge difference. They bring us together on a regular basis and help us message our value to the community. Whether you're a frequent arts goer or someone who goes to something once or twice a year, there's going to be something for you in our region.

Cassidy: Our region’s arts are, for the most part, centered within the I-275 beltway, so many art opportunities are close by with easy access commuting and parking-wise. There is also a range of arts experiences – theater, concerts, museums, cathedrals, and unique architecture – for tourists to enjoy and explore.

Altman: The commitment and core sense of how important the arts and culture are to the people of Northern Kentucky and the Greater Cincinnati region is very heightened and exceptional. For a midsize city like ourselves, we certainly exemplify the arts and culture at a height of integrity and quality and offerings on par with the major cities of the United States and around the world.

TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 21
PICTURED: (page 20, left to right) Samantha Riester and Daniel Wagner, Bold Moves Festival, photo by Aaron Conway; Show visual for Shane , directed by Blake Robison; Sirui Liu and Samantha Griffin in Facades , 2018, photo by Peter Mueller. (above) Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park.

Coming Attractions

Don’t miss these performances this summer and beyond

BEHRINGER-CRAWFORD MUSEUM

1600 Montague Road

Covington, KY 41011

bcmuseum.org

A showcase of family-friendly tunes at a price to match, “Music@BCM” returns to the Behringer-Crawford Museum Thursday nights running June through August. Be sure to bring a lawn chair and enjoy the annual outdoor concert series. Arrive early and check out the museum itself and enjoy the trails, a scenic overlook and more in the heart of Devou Park.

THE CARNEGIE

1028 Scott Street

Covington, KY 41011 thecarnegie.com

The Carnegie has three great shows set to take the stage as part of its Summer Theatre Series running July through August.

Inspired by true events and featuring music by Cyndi Lauper, Broadway hit “Kinky Boots” (running June 30-Aug. 19), tells the tale of a drag queen and a shoe factory owner who form an unlikely friendship. This will be followed by “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” (July 15 through Aug. 20), a one-woman show about the music of the late Billie Holliday with the classic “Guys and Dolls”(July 29–Aug. 18) bringing a perennial favorite to The Carnegie.

CINCINNATI BALLET

1801 Gilbert Avenue

Cincinnati, OH 45202 cballet.org

Ready to experience something bold? Head to the Cincinnati Ballet June 9-18 for its Bold Moves Festival featuring five productions offered in two separate programs.

Cincinnati Ballet artistic collaborator Jennifer Archibald’s “SIT” will be joined by performances of Val Caniparoli’s “Ibsen’s House” and legendary choreographer William Forsythe’s “In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated.” Also on the bill are performances of Annabelle Lopez Ochoa’s “Written and Forgotten” and Garrett Smith’s “Façades.”

CINCINNATI PLAYHOUSE IN THE PARK

962 Mt. Adams Circle

Mt. Adams, OH 45202

cincyplay.com

Two productions are set to make their world premieres at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park this spring.

A comedy by Nathan Alan Davis, “Origin Story” details a young mixed-race woman who seeks to discover her parents (and in the process, her lineage) while suffering the fate of a grinding office job. Runs May 20-June 25. Seeking a more Western flair? June 3-25 experience playwright Karen Zacarías’ culturally authentic take on Jack Schaefer’s classic tale of the mysterious ex-gunfighter known simply as “Shane.”

KENTUCKY SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA

kyso.org

The KSO has plenty of nostalgic music on tap for its 29th Summer Series in Northern Kentucky.

“Boogie Nights” brings back 1970’s disco music, fashion and dancing on July 8 and 9. Looking for something more classical? On Aug. 5–6, “Too Hot to Handel” offers the familiar music of Handel with opportunities for audience participation. Classic television returns on Sept. 2 and 3 with “TV Guide,” a fun exploration of TV and cartoon theme songs from the 1950s–1990s.

Concerts are 7:30 p.m. Saturdays at Devou Park in Covington and Sundays at the Tower Park Amphitheater in Fort Thomas.

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 22
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Y’all Café seeks to serve up good food and a welcoming space for regulars and visitors alike

PHILADELPHIA IS FAMOUS FOR ITS CHEESESTEAKS.

Florida, Wisconsin, Idaho and Georgia are renowned for oranges, cheese, potatoes and peaches, respectively. Chicago and New York have been battling for pizza supremacy for years. The Southwest is to Tex-Mex as Kansas City is to barbecue … And then there’s that whole battle in the Northern Kentucky/Greater Cincinnati region over who serves the best Cincinnati-style chili.

Just in case the rundown above wasn’t clear, food is one of the most definitive aspects of a region, functioning as both a sense of pride and a tourist attraction. For all activities associated with a good meal –weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, vacations – finding one authentic to an area’s heritage remains a staple for many a traveler.

Already popular with those in its immediate vicinity, there is now a Northern Kentucky restaurant that seeks to become a staple of many visitors’ trips to the region. The place? Y’all Café, a place that – as its motto says – encourages everyone to “sit, smile and stay awhile.”

Location, Location, Location

Located along the Covington riverfront, Y’all Café calls Covington’s RiverCenter home, making it within walking distance of two four-star hotels, the Northern Kentucky Convention Center and the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky (TANK). Open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily, the restaurant (which is situated directly across from its grab-and-go sister establishment, Butler’s Pantry) offers menu items designed to satisfy a wide array of palates.

Leading the restaurant’s breakfast and brunch-themed menu is the River Side Hot Brown, Y’all Café’s take on Kentucky’s signature sandwich. Offered with smoked turkey, hickory smoked bacon, tomato, house-made cheese sauce on sourdough bread. It is rivaled by the Famous Flattop: A burger with two smashed patties, American cheese, lettuce, onion, dijonnaise, Izzy’s pickles on a Martin potato bun.

Non-meat eaters and those seeking lighter options have plenty of choices as well, with a variety of salads, soups, tacos, wraps and sides, like roasted vegetable mac and cheese, rounding out the menu.

Y’all Café’s décor defies the surrounding office setting. While a simple-yet-sophisticated bar area offers a comfortable area to relax with a cocktail in hand, the restaurant’s classic diner-style red booths are balanced by the light, natural wood shades of its chairs and walls.

That charm flows throughout the entirety of the dining area into the kitchen, where patrons can view white-aproned chefs preparing meals amidst open flames. Complementing the interior vibe is its large patio area, a perfect spot for urban outdoor dining without feeling distracted by surrounding hustle and bustle of the city at large.

“We're uniquely situated as the northernmost point in terms of being the South and we're also directly opposite of Cincinnati on the Kentucky of the river, which makes us a good launching point into Northern Kentucky … We kept the decor clean and crisp with pictures of regional attractions like the skyline,” says Y’all Café General Manager Brian Firth. “Demographic-wise, we want people from the hotels and, as the neighborhood expands, from these new residential buildings. The goal is for everyone to feel welcome in a casual and approachable setting.”

PICTURED: Famous Flattop Burger: Double Smashed Patties, American Cheese, Lettuce, Onion, Dijonnaise, lzzie Pickles, on a Martin Potato Bun, with a side of Pecorino Tots
PAGE 25 TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5

Gateway to the Commonwealth

While great meals and satisfying customer service are the day-to-day business of Y’all Café, examining how the restaurant fits into a larger plan reflects the growing investment in Northern Kentucky as a tourist destination. Like Butler’s Pantry and the RiverCenter office building itself, Y’all Café is owned by Y’all Hospitality, a subsidiary of the Corporex development firm behind The Ascent, MegaCorp Pavilion and its ongoing Ovation project.

Explaining that Corporex’s strategic thinking is reflected in the fact there has been “a plan for the neighborhood for a very long time,” Firth is excited to see things coming to fruition.

That mentality is what partially drove the transition of the restaurant into Y’all Café. Firth notes that the pandemic’s effects on the hospitality industry dictated that businesses shift and adapt in several ways. For Y’all Café, that resulted in the revamp of its name, décor and menu as well as now offering delivery for large orders of over 15 throughout Covington, including neighboring hotels.

“For us, the rebrand was more about introducing the neighborhood and how the neighborhood and residential capacity have changed, but also freshening up after the pandemic, kind of like a relaunch for the neighborhood. This is a way of saying, ‘This is where we are moving forward; we'd like y’all to check us out again,’” says Firth. “As we've seen residential expansion and growth, we expanded so that we can offer more to the neighborhood, bring in additional tourists and serve as a supplement to the hotels food offerings.”

Factor in the restaurant’s riverfront location and Firth says Y’all Café’s service to the community extends way beyond sandwiches, salads, soups and sides.

“I've lived within 15 blocks of this building for 20 years, and I really enjoy the area. I love talking to people, especially when I can see them looking at the map,” Firth says. “I like being able to tell people on a pretty day they should go see historical houses along the river, walk across the Roebling Bridge, or walk to MainStrasse to see the history there. I also like answering questions about downtown, where to go and shop, etc. I love being an ambassador for the city and can't say enough about Covington and Northern Kentucky.”

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 26

Meals (and Memories) To Go

Carla Heiert is Y’all Café’s Executive Chef. The Fort Thomas native says there are multiple reasons the restaurant serves as a welcoming point for visitors, the restaurant’s location, setting and menu among them.

“We have a lot to offer and being in a key spot for the Covington/Cincinnati area, we get the best of both worlds,” says Heiert. “When people travel, there’s a ‘What are these people known for? Let's go see what it's about’ factor – people flock to experiences … We’re in a business where we can open your eyes to things that are native to Kentucky.”

Asked what she hopes visitors to Y’all Café think upon finishing their meal, her answer is simple: “That they’ll be back.”

“Once I was cooking for a couple staying at the Embassy Suites and they had ordered an omelet; they wanted to meet the chef. They came back the following year and brought 150 of their friends for a wedding and wanted to rent our patio because they were impressed,” she says. “Especially being native to the area, you want to shine. You want to impress people like the couple who came back after I cooked that omelet. People will walk over to use the restroom or grab something to drink and high-five one of us because of a great meal. That is a definite point of pride and makes me want to continue to deliver a great experience to everyone who walks through our doors.” NKY

TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 27
PICTURED: Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Choice of Marinated Chicken or Veggies, Cabbage, Carrot, Pepper Slaw, Peanut Sauce (VEG) (GF)

Hospitality Industry Emerging Renewed & Changed Post-Pandemic

COMMONWEALTH HOTELS, LLC WAS founded in 1986. Since our inception, we’ve earned a reputation as a proven partner in providing hotel management services with superior financial results. We have extensive expertise in managing premium-branded, full-service, and selectservice hotels. Commonwealth Hotels currently manages 52 open properties and 7 under construction, with nearly 6,400 rooms across 14 states, including nine hotels and three restaurants in Northern Kentucky.

The hospitality industry is emerging from the pandemic. Upon reflection, it is tempting to compare the current environment to the pre-pandemic period. I’m not sure if looking at 2019 to forecast is the right strategy. We were hard hit as an industry during Covid and likely won’t face a similar situation in our lifetimes. We need to concentrate on how the workforce has evolved, and the specific lessons learned that can best move us forward. Our business model has changed. We’ve seen a dramatic transition from business to leisure travel. Peak occupancy has shifted from Tuesday/Wednesday to Friday/Saturday which dramatically changes workforce needs.

Our talent attraction and retention issues are like other industries, but perhaps more magnified given the impact of the pandemic and unique nature of the industry. We employ workers from a wide range of countries and cultures. We require 24/7 coverage and need multiskilled individuals, i.e., maintenance employees require certification in multiple specialties and managers have a wide range of responsibilities.

How has Commonwealth responded to these workforce issues?

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 28

CULTURE

Hospitality is a high-energy industry filled with fun, serviceoriented people who want to help others. No two shifts are the same. To improve our associates’ experience, we are integrating gamification into our self-service training modules. We have a culture of open communication and accessibility. I often receive calls on my cell phone from both salaried and hourly team members. We recognize our employees with regular perks, including a paid vacation to anywhere in the U.S. for our annual Associate of the Year at each hotel. And we embrace those “just passing through,” such as part-time college students or recent retirees seeking additional income in a nice environment as part of our workplace family.

COMPENSATION & BENEFITS

The competition is tough right now. Since post-pandemic wages have increased, many employees have moved from multiple parttime jobs to one primary job. With our need for 24/7 employee coverage, we’ve increased total wages by 30% across the company, and enhanced our total benefits package. We offer childcare and transportation credits, immediate pay via pay cards and every child born into “the Commonwealth family” a 529 educational savings plan opened and funded in their name. We retained full benefits for all employees furloughed during the pandemic.

OPPORTUNITY FOR ADVANCEMENT

A recent review of those in our management positions indicated that over 95% had started in an entrylevel job. Our payroll includes the full spectrum of positions in marketing, accounting, human resources, logistics, analytics, sales, and purchasing. We emphasize “promote from within” and extensive self-guided training. Many view our industry as low paying, service-oriented positions, but career opportunities are vast with limited entry requirements. Commonwealth partners with local high schools and colleges to expose students to a wide variety of jobs in our industry. NKY

TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 29

DESTINATIONS staycation staycation

Need a vacation but don’t want to travel too far away from “your old Kentucky home?” The Northern Kentucky metro region is full of attractions, shops, restaurants and green space where you can get away from it all without being too removed from the comforts of home.

Discover the places some of the NKY Chamber staff enjoy visiting when a staycation is the perfect way to enjoy a little rest and relaxation.

PICTURED: Adventure Port, opening this summer at Kings Island, is the park’s newest themed area, and will feature two new family rides, enhanced theming for Adventure Express, Enrique’s quick service restaurant and the Mercado.

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KENTUCKY

After the minivan's loaded, we'll pit stop at Servatii in Highland Heights for breakfast sammies to eat on the road to Kings Island, where we'd spend all day thrill-seeking. After several hours of roller coasters, we'd break for lunch in Adventure Port, burritos at Enrique's most likely, and after enough digestion time, we'd check out the new rides like Sol Spin and the enhanced Adventure Express. Once everyone was tuckered out, we'd cap it with Graeter's in the park and they'd all pass out on the ride home.

My perfect NKY staycation would be with family exploring some of the fantastic things that make our region vibrant. It would definitely include some time field side. We love watching the Y'alls, Reds, and FC Cincinnati teams play. For dining, we love walking to Camporosso Wood Fired Pizzeria in Fort Mitchell, sandwiches from Kremer's Market, and Mi Cozumel. Of course, any great day ends with treats from Graeter's.

I recently took a staycation, spending time in my charming hometown, Bellevue. I started my day by attending early morning Mass at Divine Mercy Parish. Afterward, I dropped my vehicle off at Konen’s Pittstop for maintenance. Later, my husband and I headed to Cork N Crust for some of their delicious pizza. To finish our evening, we picked up some bourbon at New Riff and had a couple of drinks at home while we watched the end of the ball game.. A simple staycation, just chillin' in my hometown.

The quintessential 'girl's day' NKY staycation must start with a latte at Hotel Covington. After feeling energized we would travel to the woman-owned Grainwell Boutique on Pike Street for some personalized and hand-crafted shopping. Lunchtime would take us to Agave & Rye for creative tacos and a fun atmosphere. And lastly, we’d meet up with the rest of our friends for some rooftop views at Braxton Brewing. Go exploring today!

Having small kids to entertain, my NKY staycation day absolutely must start with a stop at Biggby Coffee for my sweet foam mocha caramel cold brew. The friendly atmosphere is always a great start to the day. Then we’d head to the Newport Aquarium. My toddler loves petting stingrays and crossing the Shark Bridge. We love the view of NKY and Cincinnati from Newport on the Levee and enjoy just hanging out in the newly renovated outdoor space. To complete the day, we’d head to Florence to catch a Florence Y’alls game, where the kids could grab a Kona Ice and we could finally sit back and relax!

A perfect evening paired with Northern Kentucky Chamber members would be Deadlow Brewing for dinner, a concert at MegaCorp Pavilion, and a post-show cocktail at Smoke Justis. Our family loves to do activities together. We have littles so we would start the day with breakfast at Washington Square Cafe in Burlington, then head to Erlanger Strike and Spare to get our bowling competition on. We'd be hungry after knocking down the pins, so we'd head to Farmstand Market & Cafe in Union for Chef Trisha to whip us up a tasty lunch. We love baseball so after lunch, we'll take in a Florence Y'alls game. After doing all the activities that the littles love, the adults would end the night with dinner and a brew at Dead Low Brewing. What a great family connection day!”

For my perfect NKY staycation day, I'd include a little pampering. I’d get my nails done at Paint Nail Bar in Florence. I’d schedule a massage and facial at Woodhouse Day Spa in Crestview Hills and then take a nice drive out to Brianza Gardens and Winery in Crittenden for dinner, wine, and music.

Lynsey McClung CFO Beth Farrer Member Relations Specialist Ben Gastright Director of Communications Nancy Spivey VP of Talent Strategies Newport Aquarium Agave & Rye
TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 31
Paint Nail Bar

My perfect NKY staycation day would begin with a walk through Newport, stopping at the Newport Aquarium to honor all the fish we lost during Lent. Afterward, I’d stop up the street in Covington at Smoke Justis for lunch. On my way home I would definitely stop at Dave & Buster’s in Florence where I could show off my Skee-Ball skills before heading home.

It would have to include a cruise down the Ohio River on a BB Riverboat. Afterward, we'd head to Hofbräuhaus where I’d order my favorites - Bratwurst, potato pancakes, and of course we’d have a “bier.” We'd tie a bow on the day with a stop at Pensive Distilling Co where we'd hopefully snag a ticket for one of their evening distillery tours.

I like to keep it simple. I’d start with a trip to the Graeter’s drive-thru in the morning for a large Highlander Grogg and a sour cream dunker. I’d then take my two German Shepherds to the park for some fresh air and exercise. I’d cap off the day with dinner and dessert at Grandview Tavern with my wife, Ginger.

I would start the day with breakfast at Y'all Cafe in the RiverCenter Towers, and then walk to Newport on the Levee to stroll through the Newport Aquarium. I'd swing by Bru Burger in Fort Mitchell for lunch and make my way to Turfway Park Racing & Gaming in Florence for an afternoon of horse racing.

In the early evening I'd get an Old Fashioned at either Smoke Justis or Rich's Proper Food & Drink – both on the B-Line – followed by a great steak dinner at either Blinkers Tavern or Lisse Steakhuis in MainStrasse Village.

I'd wrap the night at Hotel Covington with a nightcap before bed and dream of horses, bourbon, and bluegrass!

I love coffee and supporting local coffee shops, so I’d start my day with my go-to order - a large coffee with vanilla syrupfrom Villa Mocha.Then I’d head to Covington to Inspired Fashion to do a little shopping. For lunch, I’d visit Agave and Rye for their Mac and Cheese Beignets - hold the bacon - and the Brussels sprouts. Of course, you need dessert so I would head to The Pitt Stop Sweets and Treats by Jaia in Cincinnati. It’s the perfect place to get your banana pudding and lemon blueberry cornbread! If you lick your fingers, you owe me a slice!

Smoke Justis Florence Y'alls
NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 32
The Pitt Stop
Investing in Equity Building an Inclusive Business Community Powered by Friday, June 9 | 7:30 AM - Noon St. Elizabeth Training & Education Center NKYChamber.com/Equity Panelist Sponsor Powered By Host Sponsor Supporting Sponsors Closing Sponsor Breakfast Sponsor Spotlight Award Sponsor Social Media Sponsor Media Partner Neal White SVP, Commercial Banking Kyle Newman Commercial Banking Officer Member FDIC • forchtbank.com Equal Housing Lender Local Experts. Local Business Banking Solutions. Commercial Lending Lines of Credit Cash Management Covington Office 502 Madison Avenue

AROUND THE CHAMBER

THE 5TH ANNUAL GROW NKY TALENT STRATEGIES SYMPOSIUM KENTON COUNTY LIBRARY, ERLANGER FIRST FRIDAYS | NEW RIFF DISTILLING, NEWPORT
NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 34
COMMUNITY AWARD | JEFF EARLYWINE, BOONE COUNTY
BUSINESS AFTER HOURS | FULL THROTTLE ADRENALINE PARK, FLORENCE TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 35

AROUND THE CHAMBER

WOMEN'S INITIATIVE CONNECT HOUR | NEWPORT AQUARIUM

EGGS 'N ISSUES WITH FC CINCINNATI RECEPTIONS, ERLANGER NKYP COCKTAILS & CONVERSATION KEYSTONE BAR & GRILL, COVINGTON
NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 36
CONNER MIDDLE SCHOOL GIRLS STEM PROGRAM GETS A SURPRISE DONATION FROM AMAZON
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We are convenient to I-275 & I-75 It's an easy drive to CVG Airport and Downtown Cincinnati Just minutes away from grocery shopping dining and entertainment

Ribbon Cuttings

Sponsored by:

RIBBON CUTTINGS

LIFE LEARNING CENTER

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PICTURED:

Sheena Parton, Huff Realty-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Alecia Webb-Edgington, President, Life Learning Center; Lisa Nolan, Executive Director, Dress For Success; Brent Cooper, President & CEO, NKY Chamber; Jeanne Dittrich, WesBancoNKY Chamber Ambassador; Kimberly Heestand, Bluegrass Care Navigators-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Corey Walkup, WesBanco-Ribbon Cutting Sponsor

THE JOINT CHIROPRACTIC CLINIC

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WELCOME HOUSE OF NKY 1132 Greenup Street | Covington, KY 41011 | 859-431-8717 | welcomehouseky.org

PICTURED:

Manny Hernandez, First Financial Bank; Kelly Rose, Welcome House; Alan Pickett, Catholic Charities; Elizabeth LaPash, Welcome House; Danielle Amrine, Executive Director, Welcome House; Joe Wietmarschen, Welcome House; Michael Wolff, Hub+Weber Architects; Jack Gordon, College Hunks Hauling Junk; Jason Eglian, PNC Bank-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Corey Walkup, WesBanco-Ribbon Cutting Sponsor; Brain Van Arsdale; Maddy Recker, ProSource Cincinnati-NKY Chamber Ambassador

NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 40

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!

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BIGGBY COFFEE NEWPORT

1811 Monmouth Street | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-1853 | biggby.com

PICTURED: Marc Price, ERIGO Employer Solutions-NKY Chamber Ambassador; Angie Cain, Team Kentucky; Phyllis Bruning, Cabinet for Economic Development; Brent Cooper, President & CEO, NKY Chamber; Mike Bilokonsky, President, Whitehorse Freight; Mayor Paul Meier, City of Crestview Hills; Kimberly Rossetti, VP of Economic Development, BE NKY; Maddy Recker, Prosource-NKY Chamber Ambassador; friends and employees of Whitehorse Freight

TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 41

Gilman Partners, one of the largest executive search and leadership development firms in the region, will soon have a new CEO. Effective May 1, 2023, Angel Beets will become the firm’s Chief Executive Officer. Joining her to lead the organization will be Marci Pfeifer as Chief Operating Officer. Tom Gilman, who has served as CEO since he purchased the firm in 2004, will become Chairman. These promotions are the final pieces of Gilman Partners’ leadership transition that started with Beets and Pfeifer being named Co-Managing Partners in 2021.

Gilman will remain a partner and assume the role of Chairman, where he will assist with strategic matters while continuing to be active in the community and serving on a number of Advisory and Nonprofit boards. Since he purchased the firm in 2004, Gilman Partners’ revenues have increased five-fold. Its GP Elevate program for emerging leaders is also widely recognized as a top leadership development program. Today, the firm has seven equity partners and, with the shift in equity as a result of the leadership transition, is now a women-owned business. Gilman Partners serves many of the leading privately held companies, family-owned businesses, and nonprofit organizations in the region.

"I'm very proud of what we've accomplished over the last 19 years,” said Gilman. We have a great team that is known and well-respected in the business community, and consistently acts in our client's best interests to strengthen leadership teams and elevate the talent in our communities. I'm most proud of the client and community relationships we have built and our role as a trusted confidant on talent related matters."

"It’s time to let Angel and Marci lead us to the next level. They, along with our other partners and team members, have the right values and client focus to accelerate our success. I'm totally confident we have the right team for the future,” said Gilman.

Beets joined Gilman Partners in spring of 2018 as its Director of Communication & Education after working with the firm for nearly three years as a contractor. In addition to managing the firm’s strategic initiatives and external relationships, she will continue to head up GP Elevate, Gilman Partners’ leadership development program that prepares high-potential leaders for executive management. Since its first cohort in April 2020, more than 75 leaders have completed the GP Elevate program.

Pfeifer has been with Gilman Partners since 2004. In that time, she has served as both an executive search consultant and COO. As COO, she will join Beets in managing the firm’s day-to-day operations and will continue to lead talent searches for organizations across the Midwest. Pfeifer specializes in executive leadership searches as well as those in finance, construction, real estate, and tech.

“The opportunity to lead a remarkable team I respect doing work that impacts so many organizations and individuals across our community is nothing short of a dream,” said Beets. “Since I began working with Tom eight years ago, he’s been generous in sharing his wisdom, insights, and connections. He has ensured Marci and I are together more than ready to carry forward the legacy he’s built and I’m incredibly excited for the future of our organization.”

GILMAN PARTNERS SHARE YOUR
NEWS! All NKY Chamber members are invited to share announcements & personal achievements in the Milestones column. Send Milestones to bgastright@nkychamber.com MEMBER MILESTONES NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 42
GOOD

The International Franchise Association (IFA) has named Jack Brendamour and Judy McCreary, owner of five Junk King locations across Ohio and Kentucky, as the 2023 Franchisee of the Year. Brendamour and McCreary were honored at the 63rd IFA Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, for being outstanding franchise establishment owner-operators.

“This award really belongs to Pete McCreary. He was a long-time mentor of mine and has played a major role in getting us to where we are today. Pete taught me and everyone else he brought onto the team to lead with compassion. And, we’ve remained dedicated to carrying on his passion for making a positive impact on our environment by expanding our non-profit partnerships and enhancing our recycling centers,” said Brendamour. “My husband would always do what was best for the greater good. We have built upon Pete’s foundation and look forward to continuing to do so in the future. It’s an honor to have our hard work from the past 12 years recognized in this way,” added McCreary.

The Franchisee of the Year Award, sponsored by IFA’s partner Paychex, recognizes leading franchise owners from IFA member brands whose outstanding performance and contributions help protect, enhance, and promote the franchise business model. Nominated by their parent company, individuals are selected for their service to their communities, fostering a strong and vibrant workforce, opening the doors for career growth and entrepreneurship, and supporting their fellow franchisees.

“Franchisee of the Year recipients represent the best in franchising,” said Matthew Haller, president and CEO of the International Franchise Association. “This is the highest honor IFA awards to individual franchisees, and local business owners like Jack and Judy exemplify the power of franchising and its positive contributions to communities around the world.”

Pete McCreary, Judy’s husband, was the original founder of Junk King Cincinnati nearly 12 years ago. McCreary was a man of integrity and led a mentorship centered culture. Brendamour, who joined the team in 2015, was one of the many individuals that McCreary took under his wing helping to work him up from General Manager to Chief Operating Officer in two years. After McCreary’s unfortunate passing in 2018, Brendamour stepped in as CEO and co-owner in partnership with Judy. The duo carries on Pete’s legacy by keeping his core values alive and building upon his integrity driven vision. They’ve dedicated themselves to recycling up to 100% of the junk their crews haul by partnering with more than 50 local non-profits as well as expanded their reign to four additional locations to help more people declutter responsibly. A decal of Pete is on the back of every truck and dumpster so he can remain a part of every job forever.

There are approximately 800,000 franchised businesses across the U.S., providing over 8.4 million direct jobs and generating over $800 billion in economic output. According to Oxford Economics, franchising on average provides higher wages and better benefits than non-franchised businesses, as well as greater entrepreneurial opportunities to minorities, women, veterans, and other underrepresented communities.

Peoples Exchange Bank is pleased to welcome Kathy Zembrodt as Mortgage Loan Officer. With over 45 years of experience in residential lending, Kathy has helped families achieve their dreams of homeownership and find the right mortgage program to meet their needs.

“Kathy is a fantastic addition to our mortgage lending team” said Tony Parrish, President and CEO of Peoples Exchange Bank. “The depth of her background, familiarity with our market and customer first approach will be a tremendous asset to everyone Kathy works with.”

Please join us in welcoming Kathy to the Peoples Exchange Bank family!

JUNK KING PEOPLES EXCHANGE BANK TOURISM | VOLUME 42 NUMBER 5 PAGE 43
BANKING • WEALTH MANAGEMENT • INSURANCE • INVESTMENTS NOT FDIC Insured NOT Guaranteed by the Bank MAY Lose Value NOT Insured by any Federal Government Agency NOT a Deposit Subject to Risk Wealth Management Services are provided by Central Bank & Trust Co. CBIA, Inc., dba Central Insurance Services (CIS), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Central Bank & Trust Co. Insurance products, investment products and securities: Member FDIC Subject to credit approval. Florence • Fort Mitchell • Crestview Hills • Union centralbank.com/business-lending AT CENTRAL BANK, YOU’LL GET MORE THAN A BUSINESS LOAN. YOU’LL GET A REAL PERSON, LIKE MANDY. At Central Bank, our business lenders are dedicated to helping you grow your business. That’s because they’re also your neighbors, and they want to see our communities succeed. That’s the same reason they offer you really personal business banking by focusing on personal service and local decision-making. Meet Mandy today to get started. MANDY BARKER mbarker@centralbank.com 859-905-5556
GCHKFZZEN 0323
As the needs of your employees grow, so do we Innovative dental and vision plans to help keep their health on track

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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

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© 2023, The Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Inc. and by the individual authors. All rights reserved.

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Brent Cooper | bcooper@nkychamber.com

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Design & Photography

Ben Gastright | bgastright@nkychamber.com

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Lynn Abeln | labeln@nkychamber.com

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Diana McGlade | dmcglade@nkychamber.com

Staff Writer

Tabari McCoy | tabari@scootermediaco.com

Printing Black Tie Productions

NKY Talent Strategies Series: Hiring & Retaining New Americans | NKY Chamber, Ft. Mitchell | 8:00 – 10:00 AM 5/3 Business Impact Awards Presented by Huntington | Drees Pavilion | 4:00 – 6:00 PM 5/9 Eggs ‘N Issues: Tourism’s Impact in NKY | Receptions, Erlanger | 7:30 – 9:00 AM 5/10 HR 100: Employee Engagement Strategies | NKY Chamber, Ft. Mitchell | 8:00 – 9:30 AM 5/11 NKYP Coffee & Conversation | Step CG, Covington | 8:00 – 9:30 AM 5/11 Business After Hours | Second Story, Covington | 4:30 – 6:30 PM 5/18 Outstanding Women of NKY | Turfway Park Racing & Gaming, Florence | 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM 5/29 Women’s Initiative Connect Hour | Smoke Justis, Covington | 4:30 – 6:30 PM JUNE 6/7 Getting the Most of Your Chamber Membership | NKY Chamber, Ft. Mitchell | 9:00 – 10:00 AM 6/9 Investing in Equity: Building an Inclusive Business Community | SETEC, Erlanger | 7:30 AM – 12:00 PM 6/13 Eggs ‘N Issues | Receptions, Erlanger | 7:30 – 9:00 AM 6/22 NKYP Joint Happy Hour with Emerging Leaders of NKY | DBL Law, Covington | 5:00 – 7:00 PM 6/26 Women’s Initiative Connect Hour | Braxton Brewing, Covington | 4:30 – 6:30 PM 6/27 GROW NKY Talent Strategies Series: Hiring & Retaining Women | NKY Chamber, Ft. Mitchell | 8:00 –10:00 AM JULY 7/11 Eggs ‘N Issues | Receptions, Erlanger | 7:30 – 9:00 AM 7/12 Happy HR – Networking Social for HR Professionals & Business Partners | Bircus Brewing Co., Ludlow | 4:00 – 6:00 PM 7/13 Business After Hours | Location TBD | 4:30 – 6:30 PM 7/20 Next Generation Leader Awards (NGLAs) | Newport Aquarium | 5:30 – 7:30 PM 7/27 FC Cincinnati Global Experience Night | TQL Stadium | 5:00 – 10:00 PM 7/31 Women’s Initiative Connect Hour | Location TBD | 4:30 – 6:30 PM
NORTHERN KENTUCKY BUSINESS JOURNAL PAGE 46

Christy Burch CEO of The Ion Center for Violence Prevention

Sarah Giolando-Matlin Senior Vice President & Chief Strategy Officer at St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Vickie Henderson Executive Director of the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center

Ashley Norton General Manager of Major Projects at Duke Energy Corporation Emerging Leader Honoree

Farduwsa Hassan Owner of Leila Urgent Care

Henrietta Cleveland Inspiring Women Honorees Presented by St. Elizabeth Healthcare

Carolyn Thomas Thompson, CLU, ChFC Agent at State Farm Insurance and St. Elizabeth Foundation volunteer

Judith Clabes Lifetime Achievement Honoree

Lisa Desmarais Retired from the Kenton County Fiscal Court

Nancy Janes Boothe Scholarship Recipients

Terrie Lee Frasure Gateway Community & Technical College

Jenna E Dunham Northern Kentucky University

E. Holly Jenkins Thomas More University

OWNK Awards Luncheon
May 18 11:00 AM - 1:30 PM Turfway Park Racing & Gaming 7500 Turfway Road Florence, KY 41042
Sponsor Title Sponsor OWNK Award Sponsor Emerging Leader Sponsor Media Partner Event Sponsors Photobooth Provided by
Women Honorees
Tuesday,
Presenting
Outstanding
Education Partners
Host Sponsor
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