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Governor, local officials join in groundbreaking for OneNKY Center, another William Butler ‘vision’

By Judy Clabes
NKyTribune editor

More than 30 years after the first groundbreaking for what has become the RiverCenter complex on Covington’s riverfront, there was a groundbreaking celebration Wednesday for another William Butler vision — the OneNKY Center.

Gov. Andy Beshear joined local and state officials and leaders to break ground on the new center which will bring Northern Kentucky growth groups together under one roof — right at the foot of the John A. Roebling Suspension Bridge.

City of Covington photos

“This project is a perfect example of what it means to be a part of Team Kentucky and what we can accomplish when we work together to do what is best for our families,” said Gov. Beshear. “With this investment, we can support the many life sciences and biotech companies already in the region and welcome new innovators and startup companies to create more high-wage jobs and cutting-edge treatments right here in Kentucky.”

The OneNKY Center will house OneNKY Alliance, Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, meetNKY, BE NKY Growth Partnership, the Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky, Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky, the Northern Kentucky Bar Association, and the Covington Life Sciences Partners (CLSP).

Speakers at the well-attended event, held outside on the site of the new center, all paid homage to the “vision” of Corporex chief Bill Butler who was in attendance. And, all speakers lauded the spirit of collaboration and cooperation that made the project possible. Corporex is the project manager for the building. Butler announced that Paul Hemmer Construction has been selected to build it. Construction is expected to be completed in March 2025.

The project required state, local and charitable funding.

The Governor supported and the General Assembly passed $15 million in funding to go toward the Covington Life Science Lab in the OneNKY Center. The lab will provide cost-effective research and development facilities with shared equipment and office space as well as educational and training opportunities in the science industries.

Gov. Beshear at OneNKY groundbreaking. (City of Covington photo)

Covington Life Sciences Partners will occupy 15,000 square feet on the second floor of the 45,000 sq. ft. Class A office building which will be owned by newly re-organized Port Authority of Northern Kentucky.

The building is already 96 percent leased and will feature 44 underground parking spaces. It is located on the lot behind The Gruff restaurant and to the east of Corporex’s Ascent.

“The OneNKY Center represents a tremendous amount of collaboration among the Kentucky General Assembly, the Governor and the business and elected leaders within the Northern Kentucky community,” said Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ryland Heights, who was credited with seeing that project through the state Senate. “I am thrilled to see the Covington Life Science Lab coming to fruition with this groundbreaking and support from the Commonwealth of Kentucky.”

Kenton County Fiscal Court provided credit enhancement for up to $10 million in construction bonds.

“The OneNKY Center is a big step forward for government effectiveness, efficiency and economic competitiveness in Northern Kentucky. These are qualities that the Kenton County Commissioners expect, and indeed demand, that we continuously pursue, and their support was critical to making this project happen,” said Kenton County Judge/Executive Kris Knochelmann. “Today is a celebration of what Northern Kentucky can accomplish when it works together, but I can assure you that once this building is complete and occupied the efforts to elevate our region will continue with even more focus and determination.”

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer praised the entreprenuers and bio-tech firms behind the Covington Life Science Lab and said, ““We look forward to more new groundbreaking therapies and discoveries being developed here in Covington.”

“The OneNKY Alliance board of directors led the vision for the OneNKY Center as a welcoming space for visitors and for our growth organizations to be under one roof and to stimulate collaboration and leadership for our region,” said Garren Colvin, president and CEO of St. Elizabeth Healthcare and co-chair of the Covington Life Sciences Partners.

Corporex CEO William ‘Bill’ Butler (City of Covington photo)

Butler said “Corporex is proud to be the developer of the building.

“Corporex has been pleased to play an integral role in bringing the many parties involved in the vision, and now construction, of the OneNKY Center together. I applaud the dedication of the OneNKY Alliance and Catalytic Fund of Northern Kentucky boards of directors to bring this building to life and thank the Governor and General Assembly for funding the Covington Life Science Lab.”

Karen Finan, president and CEO of OneNKY Alliance, recognized the significance of the location.

“The Roebling Bridge serves as a Gateway to Northern Kentucky and is the ideal location for a signature building to house our region’s growth organizations and the Covington Life Science Lab. This project represents the brand and voice for our NKY Community thanks to the many organizations involved.”

“Activating the Northern Kentucky Port Authority is an initiative of the Build + Elevate Northern Kentucky investor campaign, and we are proud to have the OneNKY Center be our first project,” said Christine Russell, executive director of the NKY Port Authority and vice president of strategy, BE NKY Growth Partnership.

Concept drawing of the OneNKY building.

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