Vision 2015

Published:

The Kentucky Enquirer,

Fort Mitchell

Will we be better off in 10 years than we are today? Leaders of Vision 2015 a northern Kentucky planning initiative and volunteer planners invested a year of their lives in making sure the answer to that question is not left to chance.

Super-successful regions dont just happen. They set stretch-goals, build a shared vision, then work their plan as if their future depends on it. Because it does.

Vision 2015s six brainstorming teams thrashed out more than three dozen strategies to make northern Kentucky more of a winner in the global economy. They range from the monumentally challenging (schools at every level exceeding national standards) to the very doable (an internationally acclaimed design for a new Brent Spence Bridge) to the controversial (a new Effective Governance Commission to explore merged services or even revenue-sharing). The next test of whether northern Kentucky can step up in the rankings will come from buy-in. Can the visioneers secure broader public commitments and partnerships on both sides of the river? We all have a stake in their success.

They need to reach quick consensus on which strategies to push hardest, then get cracking on the action plans. Vision 2015 organizers shrewdly avoided the generation gap all-too-common in past visioning projects here by building co-leadership roles into the process for younger leaders and innovators. Northern Kentucky University President Jim Votruba and attorney Andrew (A.J.) Schaeffer co-chaired the project, and young professionals co-led and volunteered on the vision teams. Schaeffer, a co-founder of the YP group Legacy, will lead a new Regional Stewardship Council.

They warn that northern Kentucky growth has slowed since 2000, although its 4.7 percent growth is outpacing Cincinnati Metros 2.4 percent. Job growth isnt trending toward higher-paying jobs. Life may be good, Votruba says, but life isnt going to get much better if we dont do something about it. And life isnt good for everybody.

The plan aims at 3,000 new or rehabbed housing units and 50,000 new jobs in 10 years targeting advanced manufacturing, technologies, finance, health care and business services. One goal is to keep more top graduates here. Votruba recalls former University of Cincinnati President Joe Steger saying five or six years ago it was the first time in his memory that more engineering graduates left the community than stayed.

Schaeffer and others are sensitive to recent ethnic change. We need to be recognized as an inclusive world community, he said. Much of the plan is about connectivity. It calls for an interlinked parks and recreation system across the riverfronts and includes the six southern-tier rural counties of Bracken, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Owen and Pendleton. It would create an e-community electronically linking governments, employers, entertainment and agencies. Northern Kentucky leaders are encouraged by Cincinnati Mayor Mark Mallorys recent outreach to the South Shore. Much will depend on whether enough of us are hungry enough to pitch in.

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