Hundreds of Northern Kentucky business leaders and lawmakers heard the most recent plans for the Riverfront Commons project, but were warned that hard work would be needed to secure its funding.
Billed as "a nationally-recognized amenity and destination", Riverfront Commons would consist of a multi-use trail linking Northern Kentucky's river cities and offering connections to Cincinnati via the Purple People Bridge, to the proposed Licking River Greenway
, and to the Boone County park system.
"We believe that if Northern Kentucky can creatively link all of our riverfront cities and riverfront assets, the entry points into our cities and regional parks, and the connecting points to Cincinnati's riverfront, that we can create the most exciting riverfront experience in the Midwest," says Bill Scheyer, president of Southbank Partners
, which is leading the initiative.
Roger Peterman, chair of Southbank's Riverfront Commons Committee, says that the project represents $60 million in shovel-ready infrastructure that will stimulate $1.5 billion in private investment and create 4,000 permanent jobs.
With Riverfront Commons in the works since 2005, the committee was intrigued when the $787 billion federal economic stimulus package was announced.
"We determined that this project was the definition of economic stimulus, and this might be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to transform Northern Kentucky through a project like this," Peterman says.
"Competition from all over this nation is already fierce," says Southbank member Jay Buchert. "A full-time commitment will be required to secure the funding necessary for us to achieve success. We are going to have to work very hard – and very smart."
To fight for funding, Southbank has enlisted the services of 20/20 Strategies, a new partnership of "fresh off the bench" talent that is intimately familiar with the appropriations process and has developed deep and meaningful contacts in Washington.
The cost to hire lobbyists, legal and consulting services, and preliminary engineering for the first year is estimated at $335,000, Buchert says.
Peterman believes that the project is near the top of the list when compared to the thousands of other projects seeking funding.
"We have a Corps of Engineers
study that shows the economic impact that will occur as a result of this development," he says. "This is a Corps of Engineers project, which opens up a whole new avenue of funding that's unique for our region."
Writer: Kevin LeMaster