Boone County had more new economic development projects than any metropolitan area of comparable size in the country in 2011, according to the Northern Kentucky Tri-County Economic Development Corporation.
A total of 18 economic development projects were announced in Boone County in 2011.
The Cincinnati/Middletown region ranked sixth nationwide, with 114 economic development projects in 2011, among metropolitan areas with population of more than 1 million.
Dan Tobergte, president of Tri-ED, said cooperation and collaboration helped fuel the region’s continued growth in the midst of a prolonged nationwide economic downturn.
The positive economic development outlook in the region has continued throughout 2012 and the first month of this year.
In Boone County alone, 23 projects have received at least preliminary approval for state tax incentives since Jan. 1, 2012, according to a database maintained by the Cabinet for Economic Development.
As recently as last Thursday, three additional companies received preliminary approval for incentives for Boone County projects. One, Pratt (Target Container) Inc., received final approval for up to $1 million in state tax incentives for a $15.5 million project that is expected to create 79 new jobs.
Today, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear is scheduled to join local officials for another major economic development announcement at the Northern Kentucky University METS Center in Erlanger.
Tobergte pointed to the expansion of ZF Steering in Florence, one of the largest economic development projects in the state, as an example of the region’s boom.
“The ZF Steering project was great for us,” Tobergte said. “We were able to retain the company and expand it by working with many different agencies.”
ZF Steering, a subsidiary of German-based ZF Lenksysteme, supplies driveline and chassis technology for the automobile industry.
In 2011, the company completed a $95.8 million expansion project at its Florence facility that is projected to add 374 new jobs by the end of this year.
Tobergte said the City of Florence, Boone County, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Tri-Ed and the State of Kentucky all had a hand in bringing the project to fruition.
ZF Steering, for example, typically purchases land for expansion projects, but the airport prefers lease agreements, which could have been a sticking point.
“The airport provided a lease-purchase option on one parcel and a straight lease on another that ultimately gave ZF the comfort level that they could make the investment and get a proper return,” Tobergte said.
The company was also approved for up to $7.5 million in performance-based tax incentives through the Kentucky Business Investment program. Aero Parkway, a 2.5 mile four-lane highway constructed by Boone County, provided improved access to the facility.
Joshua Wice economic development director for the City of Florence, said it’s always something to tout when so many partners work together to generate positive results.
“As a region, as long as we don’t become afraid of change in addressing those ever-evolving economic development matters, we should continue to realize good results,” Wice said. “As a city with one of the largest commerce centers in Northern Kentucky, we won’t slow down our efforts to enhance the quality of life and foster a welcoming environment for businesses.”
Boone County Judge-executive Gary Moore said it is critical to continue providing well-paying jobs for residents as the economy begins to recover.
“The best way to do that is to work with our existing companies to grow and expand and attract new companies to our region,” Moore said. “Boone County would not have the staff, the expertise, or the marketing dollars to achieve something of this level. By partnering with Kenton and Campbell County through Tri-Ed as a regional economic development department, we are very competitive.”
Campbell County had six new economic development projects in 2011 and Kenton County had four, according to Tri-ED.
With its most recent expansion, Verst Group Logistics now has four distribution centers totaling 1.2 million square feet and employs almost 200 people in Hebron.
Paul Verst, CEO of the warehousing, packaging and transportation company, said a number of factors led it to locate and expand there.
“The decision to expand our existing building in Boone County was a result of our great relationship with Judge Moore and Boone County officials over the last 20-plus years,” Verst said. “The proximity to the airport, available land for construction, major highway access, and a qualified work force all played into our decision to expand.”