Perseverance, courage and fortitude are three words that come to mind in describing the character the city of Covington has displayed over the last five decades in battling socio-economic trends, recessions, scandal and other huge challenges in becoming the economic powerhouse it is today.
It's that same never-say-die attitude that has served the Covington Business Council well over a 50-year history that will be celebrated with special events through the end of the year.
Creation of the Council, a membership-based business advocacy organization, was announced on April 14, 1972, by banker and financier Ralph Haile Jr. and 15 other business, civic and political leaders in response to the exodus of businesses and residents to the suburbs. By that time, the population of Covington had declined 18% over a 20-year period, and national retailers such as Sears and Montgomery Ward were planning their departures.
Haile and his team formed an organization dubbed "CURE" (Covington Urban Redevelopment Effort) designed to be an antidote to the malaise that had overtaken Northern Kentucky's largest city at the time. Even armed with the best intentions, the group struggled to have an impact in the 1970s and the early 80s due to the energy crisis, a lagging economy and an ill-fated attempt to make Pike Street a pedestrian-only commerce center.
Later, as the group morphed into ACT For Covington and then the Covington Business Council in 1990, it started hitting its stride in assisting business leaders in establishing impactful developments and institutions. Among them were the construction of the Northern Kentucky Convention Center, the nearby RiverCenter Towers and Embassy Suites and Marriott RiverCenter. The origin of the Southbank Shuttle bus service offered by TANK also had the council's fingerprints all over it.
Today, the CBC has experienced much growth, realizing a tripling of membership to more than 430 member companies since 2010. The organization offers more than 100 education and networking events annually and specializes in connecting stakeholders all over Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky - not just Covington - to the people they need to meet to develop and accelerate their business growth.
While its membership reach is over the entire region, CBC is extremely focused on supporting business issues that impact Covington. After all, our mission is to advocate for a healthy business climate in the city. We accomplish this by supporting the development (and completion) of infrastructure projects such as the Brent Spence Bridge and aligning with the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce on this issue. We also are enthusiastic about quick completion of the vitally important repair work on the Roebling Suspension Bridge and the more long-term construction of a new Fourth Street Bridge between Newport and Covington.
We also are deeply involved in workforce issues, helping Covington Partners and Covington Schools develop working relationships with businesses as part of the workforce mentoring program that allows Holmes High School students to learn about opportunities with leading Covington businesses and organizations such as the Salyers Group, DBL Law and the Kenton County Library system. In recent years, we've developed a strong network with our restaurants and bars, serving as an education center and resource for them during regular gatherings we call Food For Thought.
Over its half century of existence, CBC has overcome operational and economic challenges to serve businesses and the community providing access, opportunity and growth to its members. We encourage you to investigate what we have to offer and take part in the special events we are hosting for the remainder of the year to help us celebrate our history and our role in the region.
Pat Frew is executive director of the Covington Business Council. For a list of golden anniversary events: https://cbcky.com/cbc-50th-anniversary-celebration/.
This article originally appeared on Cincinnati Enquirer: Opinion: Covington Business Council celebrates 50 years of helping businesses grow