The Northern Kentucky Port Authority (NKY Port) is a managed entity of BE NKY Growth Partnership (BE NKY) and serves as a real estate and development tool for Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties. Activated in 2022, the NKY Port is an initiative of BE NKY’s Build + Elevate NKY Investor Campaign. Below, Executive Director Christine Russell answers some of the more common questions she receives about leading the NKY Port.

Why did BE NKY Growth Partnership activate the Northern Kentucky Port Authority?

Although the NKY Port has existed since 1968, it was not being utilized to its full capacity. BE NKY activated it to be an economic development tool for Northern Kentucky. When looking across the river, we could see the impact the Port of Greater Cincinnati Development Authority was having in Hamilton County, and we didn’t have a similar organization in Northern Kentucky. This is an area where we felt the NKY Port could bring new tools to the economic development work being done in the counties and cities in our region. We want to utilize the statutory tools the NKY Port has to help the region be as competitive as possible.

How is the NKY Port funded?

Right now, the NKY Port is funded by BE NKY Growth Partnership. As projects progress and come online, the Port will start generating its own revenue.

What role is the NKY Port playing in OneNKY Center, SparkHaus, and other projects?

When complete, the OneNKY Center in Covington will house the Covington Life Science Lab and multiple Northern Kentucky growth organizations, including BE NKY. The NKY Port is the building owner, landlord, and construction financing borrower. Like any landlord, the NKY Port will actively manage the building and complete any needed maintenance.

SparkHaus, operated by Blue North, is a community asset that will serve as an entrepreneurial hub for Northern Kentucky, providing office space for startups and bringing together these growing companies and potential investors. SparkHaus will be in the former Sims Furniture building in Covington, which is owned by the NKY Port. The NKY Port is also serving as the borrower for this project. Both the OneNKY Center and SparkHaus are projected to be completed mid-2025.

The NKY Port is also serving as a conduit for $2 million in grant money flowing from Kenton County to the former Drawbridge Inn Site in Fort Mitchell.

Different players will be involved with every project and the NKY Port can serve a different role in each. We are here to help in whatever capacity it makes sense for us to do so.

What future activities do you see for the NKY Port?

The NKY Port’s mission is to increase Northern Kentucky’s economic competitiveness and the prosperity of our community, and we are actively looking for project opportunities across Northern Kentucky. We continue to share presentations and meet with communities to see if there are ways the NKY Port can help them to address gaps and challenges they are facing.

We are not here to duplicate efforts in the private or public development sector. We are well-positioned to be a public sector partner for development projects that are outside the traditional role of a governmental entity, but in which there is a vested public interest in seeing that project succeed.

We are also seeking out public/private partnerships, evaluating our public financing tools, looking at roles we could play in solar energy adoption, and investigating ways we can help with site readiness in terms of utilities, roads, and environmental mitigation.