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GROW NKY: Workforce collective celebrates collaborative approach to meeting regional goals

From MIT partnerships and best practice events to small business recovery grants and an online platform to support work-based learning, Growing Regional Outcomes through Workforce (GROW NKY) has accomplished plenty since its debut just 28 months ago.
GROW NKY, a strategic collective working to leverage Northern Kentucky’s assets to grow, attract and retain a globally competitive workforce, held its Bi-Annual Partner Update virtually recently, unveiling its 2020 progress report and updating stakeholders on key accomplishments from the last two years.

“We have accomplished a great deal together in just 28 short months, and we’re excited for what’s next to grow, attract, retain and advance a globally competitive workforce in our region,” said Marianne Schmidt Hurtt, Senior Vice President and Regional Manager for PNC Bank and GROW NKY Chair. “Trust in one another and a true spirit of collaboration are our strengths. We set goals collectively, but it’s the passion and persistence of the partner organizations of GROW NKY that propels us to achieve our goals.”

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Since its launch in 2018, GROW NKY’s collective impact approach, comprised of a coalition of partners representing more than 70 business, educational and community leaders, has brought partners together to produce workforce outcomes around a common set of goals. The collective success distinguishes NKY as a catalyst for opportunity and prosperity.

A selection of highlights from GROW NKY’s first two years includes:
Small Business Recovery Grants: In partnership with Duke Energy, GROW NKY awarded $70,000 in grants to 17 minority-, women-, and veteran-owned small businesses to help offset the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Funding Efforts to Support Regional Projects: Over $1 million has been secured by partners to support key GROW NKY programs and initiatives aligned with regional goals.

New American Economy & Welcoming America Gateways for Growth Grant and Community Welcoming Plan: Northern Kentucky was one of 14 communities selected nationally for the $12,500 Gateways for Growth award from New American Economy (NAE)/ Welcoming America for research on the economic impact of immigrants on the local economy.

Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative Partnership with MIT Sloan: GROW NKY partnered with MIT’s USA Lab program to host graduate students in connection to grants from the Good Companies, Good Jobs Initiative at MIT Sloan.
MyCareerE3: Set to launch at the beginning of 2021, the work-based learning (WBL) platform addresses workforce needs by providing an online and easy way for students to connect with WBL experiences, employers and career exploration.
Employer Best Practices Symposium: The annual event brings business leaders together to share best practices for the region’s workforce challenges and has featured 39 industry experts as panelists and hosted 280 attendees since inception.

Strategic Workforce Action Team (SWAT) Meetings: Launched in 2018, 18 SWAT meetings have been hosted for employers in an effort to ensure employers have the resources needed to grow, attract, retain and advance a globally effective workforce.  
Advocating for Child Care to Reopen: As the KY Division of Child Care Services worked to create reopen guidelines for childcare programs following closures in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, the professionals within GROW NKY’s Kindergarten Readiness area of focus provided key input and feedback.    
The two-hour GROW NKY Bi-Annual Partner Update meeting also featured speakers Dakota Pawlicki, strategy officer for community college and workforce education at Lumina Foundation, who presented on the power of collective impact strategies, and Dr. Teri VonHandorf, vice president of academic affairs at Gateway Community and Technical College, who led a discussion on stewardship and partner commitment.
“This is a comprehensive partnership and collaboration is our key strength,” said Leisa Mulcahy, Vice President of Workforce for the NKY Chamber and Managing Director of GROW NKY. “Workforce development is complex. One organization can’t do this alone, and we have proven we can accomplish a lot together. GROW NKY is only as successful as the contributions of our partners. We have much to celebrate and we are looking forward to building on our accomplishments to improve the workforce ecosystem in the NKY region.”

Read the 2020 GROW NKY Progress Report here.

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