Making northern Kentucky more competitive through workforce and infrastructure are top priorities of the region’s Chamber of Commerce. The new president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber, Brent Cooper, sat down with The Bottom Line to discuss his vision for the organization and what priorities they will be most focused on.
Cooper, 47, was named president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber in August. He has led Covington-based C-Forward Information Technologies since he founded the company at age 29 and has twice served as interim Chamber president before officially taking the helm of the organization last month. The northern Kentucky entrepreneur has also served in many different capacities for the Kentucky Chamber including serving on the Chamber’s board and as Education and Workforce Council chair.
Since becoming selected to run the region’s Chamber, Cooper has been working to bring northern Kentucky businesses to the table to work on priorities for the area.
“There’s three things that we’re trying to accomplish here at the Chamber: we lead, we connect, we advocate. And that’s our mission, to grow the collective economy and try to improve the quality of life for everyone here in northern Kentucky, and the state of Kentucky as a whole,” Cooper said.
Cooper said infrastructure is a key focus for the region and the business community as many of the employees working in northern Kentucky live across the state border in Cincinnati and congested traffic and other transportation needs are critical.
“We talk a lot about the congestion we have on I-75; it is our number one transportation concern. We must alleviate that congestion…As soon as those roads and bridges appear, we will see a tsunami of economic development activity. That’s why it’s so important for both large and small businesses because they need to get their employees, their goods and services, from point A to point B. And we can’t expand without the roads and bridges and addressing the congestion issue,” Cooper said.
Workforce needs are also one of the biggest priorities of the Northern Kentucky Chamber. Cooper noted that because of new pro-business legislation passed by the General Assembly in the 2017 session, the region is seeing a lot of economic growth with the growth of many businesses in the state coming to their region.
“We’re seeing a lot of good news these days. You mentioned Amazon. You know half the flights at CVG are cargo flights and we now employ over 1,500 people at FedEx, over 3,000 at DHL, and now Amazon coming in. I think we employ more Amazon employees in the state of Kentucky than any other state in the country outside of Washington,” Cooper said. “We are part of the greater Cincinnati area, and we can’t have a conversation about workforce without working collaboratively on both sides of the river. We talk about ‘coopetition.’ We cooperate when we can, and we compete when we must, but we have to recognize that fact that half of our employees whether large business or small business are going to be coming from the Ohio side. That’s why every conversation we have about workforce has to involve transportation.”
Watch the full interview with Cooper to hear about his background, the process for him to become the Northern Kentucky Chamber president, the organization’s policy priorities, and details of their biggest event of the year happening Thursday evening here: