The1st meeting of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Tourism was held on Thursday, June 21, 2007, at 3:00 PM, at the Northern Kentucky Convention Center in Covington. Representative Eddie Ballard, Co-Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Alice Forgy Kerr, Co-Chair; Representative Eddie Ballard, Co-Chair; Senators Denise Harper Angel, Ray S. Jones II, Richie Sanders Jr, Katie Stine, and Jack Westwood; Representatives Larry Belcher, Leslie Combs, Tim Couch, Jesse Crenshaw, Mike Denham, Bob M DeWeese, Myron Dossett, Ted Edmonds, Keith Hall, Mike Harmon, Melvin B. Henley, Dennis Horlander, Dennis Keene, Adam Koenig, Tom McKee, Brad Montell, David Osborne, Ruth Ann Palumbo, Dottie Sims, Brandon Smith, and Addia Wuchner.
Guests: Steve Pendery, Campbell County Judge Executive; Dan Tobergte, Tri-County Economic Development Corporation; Kristi Nelson, Corporate Attorney, Corporex; Mayor Diane Whalen, Florence; Mike Hammons, President, Vision 2015; and Mayor Tom Guidugli, Newport.
LRC Staff: John Buckner, Committee Staff Administrator; Karen Armstrong-Cummings; Louis Pierce; and Dawn Johnson.
First on the agenda was a presentation by Mr. Steve Pendery, Campbell County Judge Executive, and Mr. Dan Tobergte, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Tri-County Economic Development Corporation (Northern Kentucky Tri-ED), which represents Campbell, Kenton, and Boone Counties. Mr. Pendery said that within the last ten years 39,000 new jobs have been created in the Northern Kentucky Tri-ED area. On average, over the last 20 years there were 22 announced projects per year that generated 2,100 new jobs and $200 million in investments. Mr. Pendery explained that Tri-ED is a public/private partnership focusing on advanced manufacturing, office space, aviation, and technology-oriented projects. The Tri-ED board consists of 17 members and has nine staff members. Mr. Pendery said one of Tr-ED's successes is the Fidelity Office Park in Northern Kentucky which is scheduled to open later this year. It includes a 350,000 square foot office building and will create 1,500 new jobs with an average salary of $55,000. Upon completion over 4,200 people will be employed on campus.
Mr. Tobergte said the job training development grant increase to $8 million, which was part of the 2007 General Assembly jobs training bill for the Ford Plant expansion, was enormously beneficial and will be fully allocated by the end of the 2008 fiscal year. He urged the committee and the General Assembly to not only continue funding state job training programs but to increase funding in the future.
Mr. Tobergte commended the Economic Development Partnership Board. He noted that the continuity and lack of political influence on the Board was essential for successful economic development programs in the state.
Chairman Ballard asked if the northern Kentucky area had experienced significant job outsourcing. Mr. Tobergte said outsourcing has not been a considerable problem in northern Kentucky. He noted that Fidelity's Covington campus call center jobs and Citi Corporation's credit card processing facility have chosen not to outsource to other countries.
Next, Ms. Kristi Nelson, who is a corporate attorney for Corporex, talked about the benefits of tax increment financing (TIF). In 1952, California passed the first TIF legislation, and 49 states now having some form of tax increment financing. She said the TIF legislation approved by the 2007 General Assembly will allow statewide participation that extends beyond first class cities. Ms. Nelson explained that from a developer's perspective, it is a commitment from the state to enhance partnerships between public and private enterprises. She said Newport is transforming a former public housing development site into a $900 million multi-use economic center that will serve as a gateway to Kentucky. It will contain over one million square feet of office space; 200,000 square feet of retail space, nearly 1,000 personal residences, lodging, and entertainment complexes. She said development planning is underway with the city of Newport, and a grant pledge agreement with the state to proceed is in progress. Ms. Nelson said the Signature Project Program, which makes investment projects of $200 million or more eligible for participation, will be very beneficial.
Next, Representative Addia Wuchner, Mayor Diane Whalen, and Rick Lunnemann, City Manager, discussed the Florence City Center Revitalization Project. Representative Wuchner noted that retail competition in the area comes from Ohio. She said shoppers look for anchor stores and ambiance. She said Kentucky stands to lose economic dollars, regional sales, and occupational taxes without the revitalization project. Representative Wuchner said that recently two conventions with 250 participants were in the region, and while they were convinced to use hotels in northern Kentucky, they chose to shop in Cincinnati.
Mayor Diane Whalen explained that the vision for Mall Road is for a dominant, high-growth commercial hub in northern Kentucky that will feature indoor and outdoor environments including walking and bike paths, shops, restaurant, residential developments, offices, and other entertainment facilities. She said Mall Road contains the only regional mall in northern Kentucky. In combination with Mall Road's two million square feet of retail space and Huston Road's two million square feet, it is the largest retail district in Kentucky. Mall Road was built in the early 1970s, and in 1993 the state assumed ownership. Mayor Whalen said Mall Road has experienced a 30 percent increase in traffic in the last three years. There are nearly eight million annual visitors to the mall and over $15 million in new construction in 2006. She said the new theatre is estimated to generate 800,000 visitors, or 356,000 vehicles per year. Mayor Whalen said Mall Road needs to be redesigned and rebuilt to create more of a community environment. She said the reconstruction of Mall Road will increase square footage available for residential, office, and entertainment space by 1.8 million square feet. Property value will increase $219 million and the number of jobs will double to 7,000.
Next was Mr. Mike Hammons, president of Vision 2015. He explained that Vision 2015 is the region's strategic planning effort for the next 10 years. Developed in 2005-2006, it also includes the six counties to the south and east of northern Kentucky. Vision 2015 has five strategic areas: effective governance, educational excellence, livable communities, urban renaissance, and regional stewardship, which are all based on economic development. It represents the entire communities’ priorities for the next ten years.
Mr. Hammons said there are currently 27 different initiatives being implemented by key organizations in the region. He said a significant amount of the urban core does not have the benefit of being on the river; nonetheless, it is very important to the vitality of the region and more needs to be done to move investments into the rest of the city south of the river area. The urban renaissance plan calls for 3,000 new residential units in the urban core (Dayton, Belleview, Newport, Covington, Ludlow and Bromley). He said it is important to increase home ownership rates throughout the region along with the arts, retail, dining, and entertainment.
Mr. Hammons said the urban renaissance plan also includes developing a park along the Licking River. It would be distinctive park that would be part of the larger goal of developing a world class park system. He said part of the economic development dimension of the plan is to have a skilled workforce and revitalizing the urban core is key to drawing and maintaining it.
Responding to questions from Representative Palumbo, Mr. Hammons explained that the Catalytic Development Corporation would operate as a fund pool with a limited professional staff to assist with planning in the urban core. Mr. Hammons explained that they are currently developing a plan to increase homeownership rates and affordable housing in the area.
Next, Newport Mayor Tom Guidugli talked about the success of Newport on the Levee. He noted that expansion plans including a hotel, office space, condos and entertainment. Mayor Guidugli said other projects include 200 condo units, a Class A office tower, and marina; the Ovation Project, which is designed to change the image of the city and public housing; Newport on the Pavilion, which is a $100 million project including major retail stores and is in line with eastern Cincinnati traffic ways; Monmouth Street, which is a $9 million historic downtown shopping area and housing project; the County fiscal court building, the courthouse expansion, and the Carnegie Library renovation.
Representative Keene commended Mayor Guidugli for his work in revitalizing the City of Newport.
There being no further business the meeting adjourned at 4:15 PM.