Trey Grayson: New Northern Kentucky Chamber president coming home for 'perfect job'

First order of business: 'Get up to speed'

Dish up the Skyline and start scooping the Graeter’s. Trey Grayson is coming home.

The Northern Kentucky native on Wednesday was named the new president of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. He starts the job July 1.

“This is kind of a perfect job for me,” said Grayson, who confessed to missing his hometown chili and ice cream in previous interviews. “The job is to essentially improve the quality of life.”

Grayson, 42, is well known in the region. He grew up in Edgewood and graduated from Dixie Heights High School in 1990 as valedictorian. He got his undergraduate degree from Harvard University and then went to University of Kentucky on scholarship to get an MBA and law degree.

Grayson was elected Kentucky Secretary of State in 2003 in his first run for public office. He was re-elected handily four years later.

He and his wife and two daughters moved to Massachusetts in early 2011 after he was named director of Harvard’s Institute of Politics. The move came after he lost to Rand Paul in the 2010 GOP primary for the U.S. Senate seat that was open after Sen. Jim Bunning retired.

Grayson spoke with WCPO about his plans for the chamber, what lessons from his unsuccessful senate campaign he plans to apply to the job and whether he wants to run for political office again someday. Excerpts follow.

Q: The region is facing plenty of challenges. I’d like to get your thoughts on a few. What’s your first order of business when it comes to the Brent Spence Bridge project?

A: The first order of business – really on anything – for me is to get up to speed. I’m from Northern Kentucky. I’ve been following what’s going on. And I have some opinions. But I need to know a lot more.

One of the things that’s pretty clear is that we have to engage in a conversation that starts from the premise that the bridge needs to be upgraded. It’s not safe, there’s too much traffic, it’s getting worse. Then walk through what are the solutions, how do you find funding for the solutions. I think we’re selling the community on the need for a replacement and pay for it in whatever way we need to pay for it.

It’s pretty clear that the community’s not there yet. They’re not ready to say we need a bridge, we need tolls to get them done, and that’s the reality.

The first order of business is to have those conversations and identify the facts.

It’s a lot of talking and listening, but it’s important for the region so it’s going to be one of the first conversations we start.

Insiders can read the rest of WCPO's Q&A with Grayson, including what he had to say about whether he will run for political office again.

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