CINCINNATI -- Northern Kentucky business leaders unveiled a new roadmap Thursday for the region’s prosperity with the Brent Spence Bridge as the starting point.
The $2.4 billion bridge replacement project has been the top legislative priority of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce for years, noted Jim Parsons, a lawyer with Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP and vice chairman of public affairs for the chamber board.
Parsons told business leaders and lawmakers attending the chamber’s Where We Stand event Thursday that the bridge project is “critical to the long-term economic vitality of our region.”
He called the current bridge “dangerous,” “congested” and “functionally obsolete” and urged Northern Kentucky lawmakers to “find a solution so that a fair funding plan for this project is approved during the 2014 General Assembly Session.”
The chamber also will ask lawmakers to allow Kentucky voters to decide whether casino gambling should be permitted in the state.
And Northern Kentucky business leaders want more state funding for such needs as mental health, substance abuse and the region’s higher education institutions.
“We feel the love from Frankfort when they are counting the tax dollars from businesses and residents in Northern Kentucky,” Parsons said. “But we don’t feel much love when Frankfort allocates those tax dollars.”
Other Project Priorities
Parsons also detailed the top six projects that the Northern Kentucky Consensus Committee has identified as most worthy of state funding. Those are:
• Gateway Community and Technical College Urban Campus in Covington
• Northern Kentucky University Health Innovations Center
• Northern Kentucky Convention Center expansion
• Riverfront Commons, a riverfront trail along the Ohio River
• Carrollton Jefferson Community and Technical College Campus
• Licking River Greenway and Trails to connect neighborhoods and businesses on both sides of the river
The chamber also is encouraging Kentucky lawmakers to adopt legislation to allow for the creation of public-private partnerships to help fund big-ticket projects.
And the group is advocating for tax reforms that include the elimination of Kentucky’s inventory tax and the creation of an individual angel investor tax credit.
Roughly 300 volunteers on 10 different committees worked for almost a year to craft the chamber’s legislative priorities.
The chamber chose to announce those priorities at The Offices, located at the site of the former Comair headquarters, because it “signifies the crossroads this region currently faces,” said Debbie Simpson, president of Newport-based Multi-Craft and chair of the chamber’s board.
“The days of old Northern Kentucky have passed, and we must now strategically focus on what will bring a prosperous future back to this region that not only benefits Northern Kentucky, but also will continue prosperity for the entire Commonwealth.”
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