Brent Cooper looks at future challenges as a he takes over as head of NKY Chamber

09/29/2017 12:53 PM

COVINGTON – Brent Cooper previously served twice as interim president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, but last month, Cooper was named the sixth president and CEO of the chamber.

Cooper, 47, who founded Covington-based C-Forward Information Technologies 18 years ago and turned it into one of the leading IT companies in the region, is looking forward to leading the regions business community. Cooper says he first consulted with a number of business associates about taking the job because he was running his own small business.

“I honestly didn’t know if I could do it,” Cooper said. “I made a lot of calls, I called Dave Adkisson at the state Chamber, I talked to Jill Meyer at the Cincinnati Chamber, and they have provided me with a lot of advice and counsel. Everybody felt like it was a good idea.”

Even though Cooper is very familiar with the northern Kentucky business community, he’s taking to time to really get to know the business climate.

“I’m taking advantage of this new period to do a listening tour and kind of relearn the region, I think it’s kind of a healthy thing to reevaluate where we are and have those conversations about what we can do better,” Cooper said. “We’ve got some big ideas on the horizon and people are throwing those big ideas at us. I’m very excited for the future.”

Despite successes in northern Kentucky, Cooper acknowledges that the business community faces numerous challenges that the Chamber wants to address.

“We have to address congestion issues on I-75, we have to take on pensions, we applaud the governor and our legislators for not kicking the can down the road, that is going to take consensus building though,” Cooper said.

Cooper acknowledges that incentives can bring and keep businesses in a particular area, but he feels maybe the best business environment might be the most important factor in bringing and retaining businesses in the region.

“If we can show people that we have beautiful parks, congestion is not a problem, you can get to the airport in 20 minutes, you can get your goods and services through, we are close to sixty percent on the entire population of the United States within a day’s drive,” Cooper said. “Location matters.”

Another critical priority for the Chamber moving forward is lobbying for an improved educational system which will provide an educated workforce for businesses in a continuously changing job market.

“We’re going to see a tsunami of new technology and new jobs, and so we have to have our educational system aware of that, and supporting those kinds of changes,” Cooper said. “We want kids to be able to think, communicate; we want critical thinking, logic, that’s what we want from our graduates.”

Cooper will continue to own C-Forward, but has turned over day-to-day operations to his management team.


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