A Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce committee is helping entrepreneurs experience the community in innovative ways. Read on to learn more about it!
Are you an entrepreneur living in the Northern Kentucky area? Upstart is a Northern Kentucky organization created to connect people, startups, entrepreneurs, funders, and services. Upstart started in 2012 as a Leadership Northern Kentucky class project.
“The class collectively recognized an opportunity in the region to bring together the many resources and organizations that support, guide, and fund budding entrepreneurs,” says Jason Payne, President of the Leadership Northern Kentucky class of 2012.
This idea has turned into an annual street festival where over 500 entrepreneurs attend. “The Upstart event is a one day celebration that allows all these resources and organizations in the region to come together, exchange ideas, and make connections in a festive environment,” Payne explains.
The last Upstart event happened on October 6, where the committee launched “Innovation Alley” in Covington’s Innovation District. The alley connects Russell and Washington Streets between Sixth and Pike. Upstart hopes to transform the alley into a community event and gathering spot. The Duke Foundation, Republic Bank, and U.S. Bank provide financial support to Innovation Alley, which is led by a volunteer team of multiple organizations.
“I really enjoyed seeing people from established businesses come to the event to see for themselves what’s happening in Covington,” says Debby Shipp, Vice President of Business Growth and International Trade.
“They knew there was a lot of innovative activity, but didn’t know the ‘whole picture’ or completely understood what startups, accelerators, and incubators were and what they mean to our local and world economy.”
There are many positive things about Upstart. These things include: investing in the city and each other, opening businesses, creating new friends, sharing ideas, learning about resources available to them as entrepreneurs, and having new people assist entrepreneurs with their business growth. Upstart positively affects the community by educating entrepreneurs about what is going on in their region. The Upstart committee thinks that its important for business owners to celebrate entrepreneurship and build personal relationships with each other.
“The thought is to help create a little synergy with people -it’s a cool place to work, it’s a cool place to live, it’s a cool place to have a beer, there’s a craft brewery right around the corner,” says Trey Grayson, President and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “We think it’s a good asset for all of Greater Cincinnati and it’s the kind that attracts the type of people and the type of businesses we’d like to have more of in our region.”
As an organization, Shipp sees Upstart growing. “It’s an easy going and fun way to promote all the good things happening in Covington, in Innovation Alley and how our region can participate in the growth,” she says.