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PizzaBomba opens storefront in Covington

PizzaBomba, a Northern Kentucky food truck, is no longer just on four wheels. As of Dec. 26, PizzaBomba opened its doors to its permanent location on E. Fifth Street in Covington. Both the food truck and the store serve New York-style pizza, made with homemade dough and sauces and local ingredients.
 
PizzaBomba’s owner, Bill Stone, put himself through college bartending and waiting tables at a high-end Italian restaurant in Rochester, NY. He’s also worked in Cincinnati restaurants and been trained in food and beverage management.
 
Stone and his partner Terri Wilson, who helps with PizzaBomba when she can, began their food truck last March 30. After their fast success, a storefront seemed like the next logical step, says Stone.
 
If you’re looking for something a little out of the ordinary, the Load of BS pizza is topped with homemade pizza sauce, Brussels sprout leaves, bacon and ricotta cheese. PizzaBomba also serves salads, sandwiches (atop homemade bread) and pasta skillets. Customers keep coming back for the Bangin’ Elvis sandwich, which is topped with creamy Thai peanut butter, pepper jelly and bacon, says Stone.
 
Stone currently employs four people, and once PizzaBomba’s POS system is completely up and running, they’ll start delivery service to Covington, Newport, Bellevue, downtown Cincinnati and Over-the-Rhine to Liberty Street. PizzaBomba is still waiting on its beer-only license from the state, but they’ll soon serve local brews and a few higher-end microbrews.
 
The restaurant is open Tuesday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. If you’re looking for the food truck, make sure to follow PizzaBomba on Facebook and Twitter to find its daily location.
 
By Caitlin Koenig

This story originally appeared in Soapbox on Jan. 8, 2013.
 

NKY-based U.S. Playing Card gets casino deal

Erlanger-based U.S. Playing Card Co. has received a lucrative card contract to supply all decks to the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati, which opens March 4.
 
The contract means the local company will supply hundreds of thousands of decks to the downtown casino. Dealers and table game supervisors already are practicing with custom-made cards from the company's premium Bee line.

Reports NKY.com:
 
"We're excited because it's a local business, and it's a contract with one of the biggest casino companies in the world," said Karen Baer, senior product manager with U.S. Playing Card. 

Read the full story here.

Inaugural UpTech class finishes successful Demo Day at NKU

Eight Northern Kentucky startups were unveiled to a roomful of educators, aspiring entrepreneurs and potential investors at a Demo Day event at Northern Kentucky University.

Following drinks, bites and conversation, each company's founder pitched their vetted and nurtured informatics-based idea. The companies came from a variety of places; some are still in the beta stage, while others are on the market with paying customers.

All grew dramatically in six months as the first class of Northern Kentucky's UpTech superaccelerator.

UpTech is a new business informatics incubator launched by several Northern Kentucky institutions, including Northern Kentucky University, Tri-ED, ezone and Vision 2015. The intense, six-month accelerator program started in June and included $100,000 in funding. Companies selected to participate will also be working with students and faculty at NKU's College of Informatics.

The organization plans to invest in 50 companies over the next five years. It’s funded mostly by private investors and some state funding. Many of UpTech’s mentors and support service providers are students and volunteers.

Through a series of programs, Up-Tech guides participant startups through areas of business development that range from marketing and fundraising to market research and pitching the company to both investors and clients. Each company must stay in the Northern Kentucky region for two years after completing the program.

During Demo Day, companies outlined their business ideas, their stages of business development and ended by asking for investment for continued growth.

Each company had one-on-one coaching with mentors, in addition to the volunteer business team they were assigned.

You can read about the UpTech companies here.

Some companies made big changes in their business focus, names or even their business idea through the process.

For example, Adam Treister came out of UpTech with a new company name, logo and revised direction. Student Source, formerly Student Designed, is an online student freelance work site. The company, which is working with local and other universities, matches students with businesses seeking contact work. Projects range from $50 to $5,000.

Student Source has three partners and has raised $145,000 to date.

Treister found the UpTech experience invaluable.

"Working closely with NKU gave us an inside view of what universities are looking for, and how to better meet the challenges of partnering with a university," he says.

While in UpTech, Triester also made a change in how businesses connect with students. Initially, company projects had to go through a professor who could use the idea as a class project. Now, companies can work directly with a student, speeding up the process.

"We launched this version a week ago, and we're really excited," Treister says.

By Feoshia H. Davis

This story originally appeared in Soapbox on Dec. 11, 2012.

Florence partners with Boost

The city of Florence has signed on as the first strategic partner in Northern Kentucky Tri-ED's NKY Boost program. 

Joshua Wice, Florence's economic development director, said the goal is to meet with primary industry companies to find out what the city can do to help them grow or remain profitable, reports the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"From a city standpoint, we've been looking at a formal business retention and expansion program for a few years," Wice said. "We participate on the Economic Competitiveness Working Group through Vision 2015, which is kind of an economic development roundtable. Through those discussions the issue of a formal business development program for the entire region really became a top priority."

Read the full story here.

Gateway's manufacturing pipeline initiatives judged best in nation

The Workforce Solutions Division of Gateway Community & Technical College has won a national award from the National Council for Workforce Education (NCWE) for efforts to recruit and prepare workers for manufacturing jobs.
 
Gateway received the NCWE 2012 Exemplary Program Award for a Credit Workforce Development Program for its Manufacturing Pipeline Initiatives program, which offers academic credit for skill upgrade training. The initiative uses customized technical and performance skill training, apprenticeship programs, academic advisors at company sites, and career mapping sessions for incumbent workers to expand the pipeline of qualified workers for regional manufacturers. Gateway has also created several new manufacturing certificates.

Read the full story here.

Newport on the Levee touts office space for creative firms

Newport on the Levee could be the perfect place for creative firms that appreciates quirky amenities. With roughly 31,000 square feet available, realtors are looking for tenants that will appreciate the book store, bowling alley, movie theater and comedy club on the premises or within walking distance (not to mention the Purple People Bridge).  

Reports the Business Courier: 
Barela said he's "very confident" that in the coming months his company will secure a long-term tenant for the largest contiguous space at the development, which is nearly 19,000 square feet. The Levee can lease suite spaces as small as 1,000 square feet, he said. The space is listed for between $17 and $19 a square foot.
Read the full story here.

Airline supplier Indy Honeycomb to expand in NKY

Northern Kentucky's airline industry continues to lift the region.

An expansion announced last month will create 13 new full-time jobs and invest nearly $1 million in the local economy. Indy Honeycomb manufactures metal honeycomb for military, commercial, and industrial applications, including parts for aircraft engines and generator turbines. Indy Honeycomb plans to double production space, add office space, and purchase equipment at its Covington manufacturing plant, where it currently employs 29 people.

The company currently exports to 20 countries, but demand for Indy Honeycomb's product is growing, and the expansion will increase capacity. 
 
"Indy Honeycomb's success can be traced to their early business vision – to make a complex product simple and easy to buy. That concept clearly works," said Gov. Steve Beshear in a press release. "Now, the Commonwealth is partnering with Indy Honeycomb to see the company continue to grow and succeed, and the addition of 13 jobs and a $915,000 investment are proof of that success." 

To encourage the investment, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for tax incentives up to $200,000 through the Kentucky Business Investment program. The performance-based incentive allows a company to keep a portion of its investment over the term of the agreement through corporate income tax credits and wage assessments by meeting job and investment targets.
 
"Incentives like this allow our business to move more decisively and proactively," said Indy Honeycomb President Steve Barnett in a press release. "We now have the ability to provide additional space, equipment and technology to our committed team of employees, which allows us to better serve current customers and new clients alike. Having the ability to move on this initiative now, as opposed to waiting, helps us remain on the leading edge of our niche market."

"We welcome the expansion of Indy Honeycomb, one of Covington's most progressive businesses within the manufacturing sector," said Covington Mayor Chuck Scheper. "The company's technical expertise and product use within the commercial, military and industrial markets are well respected. Covington celebrates and thanks Indy Honeycomb for its vote of confidence as it continues to grow in our city and in northern Kentucky."
 
"The Indy Honeycomb expansion clearly endorses the momentum we are experiencing in Northern Kentucky and our advanced manufacturing sector," said Gary Moore, chairman of Northern Kentucky Tri-ED and Boone County judge-executive. "Our existing industry base is the foundation of our success and Indy Honeycomb's commitment to the Northern Kentucky region is exciting for all of us. We congratulate the company and look forward to winning their confidence every day."
 
For more information on Indy Honeycomb, visit www.indyhoneycomb.com.

Two firms bring 77 jobs, $4 million to Newport

The revival of Northern Kentucky's riverfront continues: Two retail service and merchandising firms are coming to One Riverfront Place. 

Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing and P.L. Marketing, Inc. will jointly locate in Newport, bringing 77 jobs and more than $4 million in annual payroll with them. 
 
"We are pleased to welcome Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing and P.L. Marketing, Inc. to Newport and Northern Kentucky as they consolidate their separate locations to better serve their customers," said Steve Pendery, Chair-Elect of Tri-ED and Campbell County Judge Executive, in a press release. "The talented merchandising workforce of these companies will benefit from the many amenities, general business environment and restaurants found in Newport and at One Riverfront." 
 
The companies, which both focus sales, marketing and merchandising in the grocery industry, wanted to consolidate their operations into one space to improve collaboration and customer service. At One Riverfront, the companies move into 60,000 square feet of Class A office space and will take advantage of a location minutes from the heart of Cincinnati and the entertainment, dining, and business amenities of Newport.
 
The City of Newport and Campbell County Fiscal Court supported all jobs associated with the project through a jobs development payroll tax abatement in September. In October, the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) preliminarily approved the company for state and local tax credit incentives for new Kentucky resident jobs as a result of the project. The project was announced in November.
 
"The attraction of companies to Newport and to the region is incredibly important to the future of Northern Kentucky," said Jerry Peluso, Mayor, City of Newport, in a statement. "We are committed to attracting and retaining a creative and focused workforce and offer a competitive and inviting business environment. Harlow-HRK and P.L. Marketing are welcome additions to the city of Newport’s business roster"
 
More information about P.L. Marketing, Inc. can be found at www.plmarketing.net, and Harlow-HRK Sales & Marketing, at www.harlow-hrk.com. To learn more about locating or expanding your business in Northern Kentucky, contact Karen Finan at 859.344.0040 or kaf@NorthernKentuckyUSA.com.
 

Northern Kentucky's top employers adding jobs

Northern Kentucky's top employers, including Mubea, Mazak, and Verst Group Logistics, are expanding and growing jobs, according to the Business Courier's Top 25 Northern Kentucky Employers. Growth has ticked up mainly in the manufacturing sector, but top employers also include Kroger, St. Elizabeth Healthcare, and Kenton County Schools.

Read the full story and the complete list of Northern Kentucky's top employers here.

NKU students' tech-based business brings small-town history to 21st century

Northern Kentucky University grad students Sean Thomas and Steve Oldfield took a classroom idea into the real world with a tech-spin on telling small-town history.
 
Thomas and Oldfield created a way for small historical organizations to share their unique pasts with a wider audience though multimedia, self-guided walking tours. They've created Instant Access Tours, and their mobile walking tours are now in two small river cities.
 
Instant Access Tours works with existing historical content to create interactive apps that users can access through their smart phones. Users not on-site can take virtual tours through their home computers.
 
"Our goal is to revive old or ineffective walking tours and bring them into the modern age, with the hopes that they will educate and inspire learners for generations to come," the Instant Access website proclaims.
 
Thomas and Oldfield created Instant Access Tours after coming up with the idea as a capstone project for NKU's Master of Arts in Public History program.
 
Thomas, a former videographer and editor for the Army, is a self-described "history nut." The idea for the tours came after Thomas had done with work on the Fort Thomas Military and Community Museum.
 
"I realized that these small museums really have a hard time marketing themselves," he says. "Then they lose visitors and they lose money. I thought, 'How could I help museums keep their doors open?'
 
He and Oldfield, a broadcast journalist, decided on a project that would help small towns use technology to present great historical moments in a cost-effective way.
 
The pair began by working in New Richmond to update its Underground Railroad Freedom Trail tour for their capstone project. Their first business client was the Walking Tour for the Battle of Augusta. They hope soon to collaborate on tours in Covington.

 
By Feoshia H. Davis

This story originally appeared in Soapbox on Nov. 6, 2012.

New Gateway campus is 'game-changer'

Gateway Community and Technical College has officially launched a $81.5 million project to create an urban campus in Covington, bringing a long-awaited development to life.

Gateway has bought or signed contracts for five buildings, including the former Marx Furniture store on Madison Avenue and a church on Fifth and Greenup. 

Reports the Cincinnati Enquirer:

"We think it's a game-changer, not only for Covington but for the people in this community who ... might find a little hope when they come to this campus," Gateway President Ed Hughes said Wednesday while unveiling the campus master plan.

Read the full story here.

Kentucky ranks lowest in U.S. for cost of business

Kentucky ranks lowest in the U.S. for cost of business, according to a CNBC special report. The report compared state data on tax burden, business taxes, property taxes, individual income, utility cost, cost of wages, and rental costs for office and industrial space. 

View the full report here.

L'Oreal USA expands, adds 200 jobs

L'Oreal USA's Northern Kentucky plant is doubling in size and creating 200 new jobs, the company announced this month. The $42 million expansion was made possible in part by $5 million in tax incentives from the Kentucky Business Investment Program. 

"L'Oreal’s business is growing globally, and the expansion will enable us to meet increased consumer demand for the popular hair care brands we are producing in Kentucky," said Eric Wolff, plant manager, in a press release. "The Florence plant is a center of manufacturing excellence for the L'Oreal Group, and the decision to expand US production here will result in significant economic benefit for Kentuckians."

The expansion reflects the continued growth of Kentucky's foreign direct investment (FDI). The Commonwealth is now home to more than 420 foreign-owned companies from 30 nations, employing nearly 78,000 people. European-owned companies represent a large portion of that FDI, with approximately 180 companies that employ nearly 26,600 people.

Read the full story here.

Economic efforts making gains in NKY

Recent economic data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that Northern Kentucky's economy is gaining momentum. Total jobs filled, total businesses, and average wages are all trending up in the tri-county area. 

Reports the Cincinnati Enquirer:

Northern Kentucky economic development officials say new economic engines such as an expanded DHL air freight hub at CVG and a new College of Informatics at Northern Kentucky University are making their jobs easier.
 
"We have to work our deals harder and smarter and show the service after the sale. But I'd say we're getting it done," said Dan Tobertge, Tri-ED president and chief executive officer.

Read the full story here.

TIMCO looks forward to growing, investing at CVG

One of the largest independent aircraft maintenance providers in the world is coming to Northern Kentucky. 
 
TIMCO Aviation Services has facilities in three states and line maintenance operations at more than 20 airports across the country. The company also has an Aerosystems division that provides design, engineering, and integration services and manufactures seats, galleys, and lavatories. But they've never focused on regional aircraft services -- until now. 
 
"We've been looking at adding capacity in the regional jet aircraft market," says Leonard Kazmerski, Vice President of Marketing and Business Development at TIMCO. "But to be frank, it would be an economic hurdle to build the business from the ground up at our existing facilities."
 
Opportunity knocked when PEMCO Air Services announced in August that it would shut down its operations at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport. Earlier this month, TIMCO announced that it would purchase PEMCO's assets, lease its hangar, and use the facility to grow a regional aircraft services division.
 
The existing skilled workforce formerly employed by PEMCO was a major draw for TIMCO, Kazmerski says.
 
"This team of employees is fully skilled, experienced, and very capable on this particular fleet of aircraft, and that was very attractive for us," he says. "It's a fantastic way to launch this part of the business."
 
TIMCO will receive tax incentives relative to their growth and investment -- the more jobs they create and capital they invest, the better their deal becomes. It's an incentive to thrive and a reason to stay. 
 
"Our work with the folks in Kentucky is really a cooperative partnership," Kazmerski says. "It's really a great arrangement for all of the stakeholders."
 
The TIMCO represents an enhancement to the services on offer at CVG, and everyone involved expects TIMCO to contribute to the economy in jobs, investment, and the continued development of an advanced aviation sector. 
 
"We are so excited to be here," Kazmerski adds."We're excited about the community and we look forward to growing here."
 
Read the complete announcement here.
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