Rejuvenating the Riverfront
By Chris Saulnier

Southbank Partners begins new project to enhance NKY’s riverfront

Newport on the Levee and the Purple People Bridge are two of Northern Kentucky’s finest attractions.

On any day, thousands of people use the walkway and enjoy a beautiful afternoon at the shops or restaurants along the levee.

Southbank Partners, Inc., a community and economic development organization that coordinates with cities on the banks, has played a major role in making the riverfront a desirable destination.

With help from friends in the public and private sectors, Southbank Partners is continuing to support new features, as well as important amenities that Tristaters rely on for day-to-day use.

One of those projects was the implementation of the Southbank Shuttle, the trolley that’s part of the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky bus system connecting Covington, Newport, Bellevue and Cincinnati. The latest project will utilize the area’s natural beauty and will have a significant impact along the Ohio River.

Jack Moreland, Southbank’s president, says the organization is focusing on the creation of an 11.5-mile biking and walking trail called Riverfront Commons.

The project has required a mix of teamwork, dedication and money.

The Army Corps of Engineers is helping to combat substantial erosion along the river and making it possible for the path and local businesses to survive. The money is coming from grants, including $10,000 from Duke Energy. The private grant will help develop Taylor Creek Overlook and the Riverfront Commons.

“Back when the economy was in a funk, grants were hard to get. Now that the economy is doing OK, they are becoming more available,” he says.

The timeframe for the completion of the project will vary due to the grant money they receive, but Moreland hopes the entire project is completed in five years. The trail will serve as a scenic destination for recreation, but Moreland says that’s not the primary purpose.

“It will be good for economic development. The trail will draw people, then retail shops and restaurants,” he says. “Stabilizing the erosion of the river will give people a level of security in their homes and businesses, and … it serves an ecological purpose recreating what used to be in the area.”

In addition to attracting new businesses to the area, the trail will create a smoother flow of transportation with side trails that lead into nearby city centers. While Moreland admits connecting the trail will be “tricky,” he is confident in Southbank’s game plan to complete this major addition to Northern Kentucky’s riverfront shoreline.

Covington is Awesome 
By Maggie Heath

Collective brings businesses and community together

Easily recognized by their logo of a black duck with a yellow lightning bolt running through it, the Awesome Collective has one message: Covington is awesome.

Started as a grassroots campaign to celebrate Covington, the Awesome Collective has grown to include a group of core members, lots of participating businesses and scores of eager Covingtonians.

“When we first decided on the logo in the second or third meeting, we thought it was great. It symbolizes the city’s position on the river and the energy we bring to the community,” says director Tess Burns. “But a lot of people still ask, ‘what’s with the duck?’”

The group responsible for this rapidly expanding campaign includes eight core members led by Burns.

“We run the infrastructure,” says Burns, “but our approach is different. We’re more rock ‘n’ roll than corporate.”

One look at the Collective’s zine (a self-published online and print booklet) and it’s easy to understand that claim. Based on submissions from 200 local contributors, the publication is Covington’s own Index of Awesome.

“That was my favorite project,” says core member Lydia Cook. “So much of the community came together, and the energy was great.”

The Index doesn’t hold back. “Best bait for catfish: White Castle French fries!” says one entry on Ohio River fishing. Another says of a beekeeping service, “So, thousands of bees decided to winter in the walls of your young daughter’s playhouse? Oh the horror! Nonsense. Call Granville.”

These colorful descriptions of local restaurants, bands, parks and more are interspersed with local artists’ works, many of which are collages and feature slogans like, “We’re 100 percent social pioneers.”

And that they are. Thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, the group has raised enough money to publish its next zine: a video project. Recently, the Collective made patches with its slogan and logo so that supporters could literally wear their hearts on their sleeves. Another project enlisted the help of the children at Glenn O. Swing Elementary, putting up a huge mural on the side of the school. Featuring over 400 works by the students, it reads, of course, “Covington, Awesome since 1815.”

The Collective also hosts “Cake and Ale” parties and puts together occasional screen printing and group art making parties, open to anyone who wants to come.

The next big thing is a mini-conference scheduled for October. “We’re going to be releasing the speakers soon,” Burns said. “We’re all really excited about it.” The conference will bring together businesses and members of the community to discuss the roles of marketing and community involvement in Covington.

“This is the biggest, most ambitious thing we’ve done, and the response has been really positive,” says core member Jerod Theobald. One thing is for sure: it’s going to be awesome.

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