County Connection: Kenton County a major economic development hub

03/28/2018 10:19 AM

COVINGTON – Kris Knochelman has served as a judge-executive of Kenton County since 2015.

Knochelman, who is a lifelong resident of the county, is a business owner
and has been a vocal advocate for government efficiency, cooperation and holding bureaucracy accountable.

During his first term as Kenton Co. judge executive, Knochelman led the effort to reform the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) Board in conjunction with the General Assembly. He also has led in the fight against the heroin epidemic that plagues the streets and neighborhoods in Northern Kentucky.

One of the things that Knochelman loves about Kenton County is the fact that it offers a little bit of everything.

“We have such a diverse population, diverse economy, diverse residents, you know, the urban core, the suburban area that both newer suburban, older suburban, and then you have the great rural areas where you have some farms and some livestock,” Knochelman said.

One of the counties biggest assets for the county are the plethora of businesses which have chosen to locate there — providing good paying jobs for the region.

“Thankfully for the state, when they invested in Northern Kentucky University, that of course was one of the greatest decisions made for this region,” Knochelman said. “Of course, having the airport in Boone County is one again, one of the greatest decisions ever made in this region, and those draw businesses, and they do provide a high level of educated population for workers,” Knochelman said. “Thomas More is another shining jewel”.

One of the more interesting facts about Kenton County, is that it owns and governs the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport which is located in Boone County.

“It’s actually really a great story, but Judge (William) Wehrman , in communicating with our federal delegation, is really where it all came together when no other county had the resources to make the investment to buy the property in Boone County and thereby own the property, still owns the property, and actually controlled the structure of the airport board itself,” Knochelman said. “It’s probably one of the most unique situations in the region, if not the country, where the county owns it, it’s run by a separate board, and located in Boone County.”

Knochelman says one of the positive things about the county is the collaboration of its many city officials to get things done.

“The good news is we a great group of mayors, great group of city council members, who aren’t thinking of themselves, they’re thinking of a bigger picture, and that allows us to work more cooperatively and get better things done,” Knochelman said.

There has been growing speculation about an eastern by-pass as an alternative or in addition to constructing a new Brent Spence Bridge.

That by-pass could potentially potentially open up the southern, more rural part of the county.

Knochelman isn’t overly sold on the idea of a new highway going across the southern part of the county.

“I’ve been very open in saying that I would like to see, if we’re going to talk about expansion of transportation, is southern Kenton really the best place, should it not be further out,” Knochelman said. “We have such a topography, two thirds of the southern portion of our county where a proposed highway could go through is very, very hilly, not likely to be amenable to a lot of economic development.

Despite its many attributes, the county does have its share of challenges.

“We’ve got to figure out how to make it easier to do business in Kenton County and in this region,” Knochelman said. “That is working on our payroll tax, making sure that our occupational systems and the entities that manage and oversee business activity in the community are easy and smooth, and that takes a good while to fix it and improve it.”

Knochelman will be running opposed in both the primary and general election for a second term as judge-executive.

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