This has been a comeback year for Northern Kentucky with scores such as Newly Weds Foods and Ethos Laboratories set to open new facilities this fall, and recently being named the top mid-market in the South by a leading business trade magazine.

Leaders from Northern Kentucky Tri-ED, the economic development agency for Boone, Campbell and Kenton counties, are heading into the last stretch of 2013 with high hopes.

“We’re really coming out of the downturn,” says Karen Finan, Tri-ED’s senior vice-president. “This is the first time in history that Northern Kentucky has been named a top mid-market.”

In August, Southern Business & Development magazine named the region the top mid-market in the South, recognizing Tri-ED’s success in 2012 for bringing in companies such as Elovations, which added 696 new jobs, and iHerb, which added 600 jobs.

Tri-ED is hoping to do even better in 2013, by exceeding their normal goal of landing 22 projects per year. It specifically wants to attract new business in advanced manufacturing, office technology, life sciences, aviation distribution and e-commerce that will bring high-paying jobs to the region, Finan says.

“The momentum continues in 2013 for Northern Kentucky with significant projects announcing, including Newly Weds Foods and Southern Air, along with a few tech-oriented companies all capitalizing on the advantages provided by Northern Kentucky University’s College of Informatics,’’ says Dan Tobergte, Tri-ED’s president and CEO.

This fall Newly Weds Foods will open its new plant in Erlanger, adding 125 advanced manufacturing jobs. Ethos Laboratories will open a pain management laboratory in the renovated Trauth Dairy building in Newport and add 45 jobs.

Earlier this year, Southern Air announced that it would relocate its new global headquarter to Florence, adding more than 150 employees.

But Tri-ED is also seeding the region for homegrown jobs. Their startup engine, UpTech, recently announced its second class of eight fledging entrepreneurs who will be coached on growing successful businesses and offered perks such as free office space. This year’s class is based in a redeveloped property in Covington.

In September, UpTech hosted a showcase for potential investors in these young businesses. The hope is that these new start-ups will grow into businesses that will stay, expand and lease office space in Northern Kentucky, Finan says.

While it adds new jobs, Tri-ED is also working to keep current employers happy. Last summer it added two outreach coordinators to bridge the needs of businesses and local governments who can help them. The program, called NKY Boost, plans to visit 200 businesses this year to help them find tax incentives, recruit workers and fix utility and government issues.

The program worked closely with the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky to coordinate bus service with big employers. As a result, TANK switched bus routes, added service and contracted with employers to purchase passes so employees could ride for free.

“Tri-ED has refreshed its retention program,” Finan says. “We are working within local communities to understand the needs of businesses, open the lines of communication and find expansion and growth opportunities for years to come.”