By Patrick Crowley
The Cincinnati Enquirer
FORT MITCHELL - As Northern Kentucky grows larger, its communities grow closer.
In a major acknowledgement of growth in the region's southern counties, the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce held its first-ever event solely focused on Carroll, Grant, Gallatin, Pendleton and Owen counties.
The chamber, the region's largest business group, even patterned Tuesday's event after its popular State of Northern Kentucky address, the annual regional report card delivered by the judge-executives of Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.
Northern Kentucky's five rural counties are on a growth spurt. Following are their population gains from 1990 to 2000, with percentage of growth and 2000 population.
Gallatin County - 46%, 7,870
Grant County - 42%, 22,384
Pendleton County - 19%, 14,390
Owen County - 17%, 10,547
Carroll County - 9%, 10,155
Source: U.S. Census Bureau
"State of Northern Kentucky II: An Update from our Senior Neighbors" was held in Crestview Hills and featured speeches by the judge-executives of the rural counties, which posted large population gains in the 1990s.
"Our growth is spreading in that direction - it's moving south," said chamber vice president Steve Stevens. "Lots of economic development is starting to occur down there, and there is more in the planning stages. We held the event to create a greater awareness in our region of the counties south of Boone, Kenton and Campbell counties.
Grant County Judge-executive Darrell Link said he and Owen County Judge-executive Billy O'Banion helped persuade the chamber to put more effort into recognizing the southern counties.
"It is events like this that will help bring us together as a region," Link said Wednesday. "That helps our clout in Frankfort, it can help our economies, and it will help the people in Northern Kentucky in including the southern counties as part of this region.
"I was excited about the event because it gave us a chance to talk about what was going on in our county," Link said. "But it also gave all the counties (the chance) to start planting the seeds in the minds of business people that these five counties are growing and we have places where businesses might want to pursue a new market or even open a new business.
"We have a good story to tell," he said. "It was nice to have the opportunity to tell it."
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