NKU helps community string together its vision

NKU hosted a community forum in Griffin Hall’s digitorium to address Northern Kentucky’s strategic plan, Vision 2015.

Vision 2015 launched myNKY Jan. 16, 2014, as their next step in envisioning the growth of Northern Kentucky, according to their website.

This forum aimed to gather the community’s thoughts and opinions and to introduce MyNKY. MyNKY is a six month campaign to gather this input so a new plan can be drafted, according to Kara Williams, vice president of communication and strategic initiatives at Vision 2015.

“Northern Kentucky has a very long history of doing community planning,” Williams said.

The area has developed strategic plans to enhance the community beginning in the ‘80s, which developed the city towers and the riverfront skyline. The second came in the ‘90s, which brought a community technical college to the area and the science building to NKU.

The third strategic plan was Vision 2015. During this time period they developed many things including a catalytic fund for urban capital and an education council to be the one stop shop for education in Northern Kentucky, Williams said.

At this forum Bill Scheyer, president of Vision 2015, spoke of the progress Northern Kentucky has achieved. Williams then addressed the campaign, its efforts to solve the communities’ problems and how to participate. A.J. Schaeffer, previous board chairmen of Vision 2015, also presented.

Vision 2015 was developed through public input, Mark Neikirk, executive director of civic engagement, said. Therefore, attendees were encouraged to voice their opinions so that the money can be allocated where people believe it’s most needed. Twenty-two organizations and people funded Vision 2015, including NKU and the Scripps Howard Foundation.

Previous NKU president James C. Votruba was a co-chair of the event with Schaeffer when Vision 2015 first started, Neikirk said.

Now, current NKU President Geoffrey Mearns and Sharmili Reddy, a senior planning manager at Northern Kentucky Area Planning Commission, hold the position. NKU, Vision 2015, Legacy, a young leader’s organization and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce are also a partners in the NKY forum.

Vision 2015 has six of what they like to call “focus areas” they wish to bring to Northern Kentucky, which are economic competitiveness, educational excellence, effective governance, livable communities, urban renaissance and regional stewardship, according to their website.

All of these focus areas are headed by committees comprising of 20 to 30 people, Williams said. These committees have certain goals to fulfill in their focus areas.

“Which of these areas they focus on will be influenced by what people say at the various kinds of hearings they’re having around town and we’re having next week,” said Neikirk, who sits as an urban renaissance board member.

Polling and challenge questions are on the website so users can learn more about the initiatives. Additionally, there is a game where one can apply $1 million where they feel it’s most needed.

“It’s a way for us to get a priority for folks of what’s important to them while making it feel like a game,” Williams said.

The forum also served as a podium for citizens to voice their concerns about what is important to them.

“Whatever it is you think that’s important to the community, this is your chance to say it and have your words included in the plan,” Neikirk said.

The Northern Kentucky forum holds between eight and 12 events every year, which are free and open to the public and their comments.

“I want people to be engaged in helping this community reach its full potential. This is a great place to live. We can make it an even better place to live, but we need people to get involved, to give us their ideas and tell us what are our challenges and what some of the solutions for overcoming those,” Williams said.