When I describe Northern Kentucky to folks from around the country, I describe it as a collection of small towns within minutes of big-city amenities. “We’ve got the best of both worlds,” I’ll brag. 

Just look at Ft. Thomas or Ft. Mitchell. Two of the best small towns in the country. They have great school systems, nice parks and engaged citizens. The annual Fourth of July parades are snapshots of Americana that would make Norman Rockwell smile. No doubt about it, if you plopped those towns down anywhere in the United States, they would still be terrific. 

But as good as they are, what really makes them great are the things around them. And that’s true for wherever you hang your hat in Northern Kentucky.

The fact you can be at the airport, a world-class museum, a professional football or baseball game, or a Broadway show, all within 20 minutes, makes our community something special. People living in other major cities are envious of that kind of quality of life.

During my tenure as chair of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce board of directors I was once quoted as saying, “Northern Kentucky puts the ‘Greater’ in the Greater Cincinnati region.” But as great as I think Northern Kentucky is, and I do, we must recognize it’s the entire Greater Cincinnati region that makes us successful. 

For example, there aren’t many jobs in Ft. Thomas. Most people work in another city, county or state. That’s the way it is for most living in Northern Kentucky. We work as a region. 

We’ve got awesome malls and shopping. How many of us regularly visit Florence Mall, Crestview Hills, Rookwood, Kenwood, and the Newport Pavilion, just to name a few? We shop as a region. 

We are minutes from places like the New Riff Distillery (now the start of the Kentucky bourbon trail), the Hofbräuhaus, MadTree, Rhinegeist or Braxton Brewery. Yep, we even drink as a region.

Our property values are tied as much to the strength of the region as they are to the particular “small town” we call home. 

With that recognition, I continue to be baffled by those that battle against regional efforts. They spend so much time focused on their tree, they completely overlook the forest. 

Why aren’t they championing efforts to collaborate, reduce costs and improve our collective lives? 

We have four 911 systems in Northern Kentucky. Wouldn’t it be nice, and safer, if there was just one? 

There are well over 50 entities with taxing authority in Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was just one? 

We have all these regional organizations and parks. Wouldn’t it be great if we shared the same branding and identity? 

And while other regions—places we are competing with for jobs and talent—are improving and expanding their transportation solutions, we continue to argue and debate.

Look, we’ve got something special in Northern Kentucky. We should continue to recognize and celebrate it.

But as we celebrate the best of what we have to offer, let’s not forget that we don’t live on tiny islands. 

We are much better as part of the larger whole.