$150 million plan unveiled for biomedical center in Covington, would include new home for NKU law school

Kentucky Lantern

A lofty economic development plan for Northern Kentucky was unveiled Wednesday that would create a biomedical center campus in downtown Covington with a new facility for Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law and the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in it.

Sen. Chris McDaniel (LRC Public Information)

Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ryland Heights, chairman of the state Senate budget committee, said the Senate version of the next two-year state budget includes $150 million to establish the Commonwealth Center for Biomedical Excellence at the old IRS site in Covington. 

The site is now called Covington’s Central Riverfront development. The plan calls for it to be an innovation, entrepreneurship and life sciences campus a block south of the Ohio River.

“The Senate’s proposed budget, thanks to the work of Sen. Chris McDaniel, aided by Senate Majority Leader Damon Thayer, is a historic opportunity to diversify Northern Kentucky’s economy beyond its core strengths in industrial,commercial, and residential real estate,” said Kenton County Judge-Executive Kris Knochelmann in a release.

Covington Mayor Joe Meyer said, “We appreciate Sen. McDaniel’s leadership and hard work in bringing the parties together to make this happen on Covington’s riverfront. The addition of Chase Law School and the UK School of Medicine will be significant additions to an exciting site.”

Covington is home to an emerging cluster of life sciences companies led by CTI Clinical Trial and Consulting Services, Gravity Diagnostics, and Bexion Pharmaceuticals. Two years ago at the request of the city, McDaniel secured $15 million to build a life sciences laboratory within the OneNKY Center, currently under construction with a planned opening in 2025.

The establishment of the Commonwealth Center for Biomedical Excellence is designed to further support the existing life sciences community and create new opportunities for innovation and economic development.

A key component of the center will be a new facility for Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law. 

 Chase Law’s proximity to the planned SparkHaus, an entrepreneurial hub in Covington designed to foster Northern Kentucky’s next generation of business leaders, is expected to generate opportunities for its students.

“We are excited about Sen. McDaniel’s proposal to make NKU Chase College of Law a cornerstone in the Commonwealth’s Center for Biomedical Excellence in Covington, said NKU President Cady Short-Thompson.

She said it will not only benefit students’ academic and professional development but also strengthen NKU’s ability to serve the region.

The other foundational element of the new Commonwealth Center will be the University of Kentucky’s College of Medicine – Northern Kentucky campus. “Powered by Sen. McDaniel’s stirring vision for the future, we are excited about the opportunity to join with our partners at Northern Kentucky University as cornerstones of the Commonwealth Center for Biomedical Excellence in the heart of Covington,” said University of Kentucky President Eli Capilouto. 

“We want to grow with the Northern Kentucky region as we seek to advance this state in all that we do. Through a partnership with policymakers, health providers, NKUand many others, we can educate more physicians to provide care and work collaboratively in ways that will help build an even stronger region.”

The Commonwealth Center for Biomedical Excellence is expected to have nearly 600 graduate students, faculty and staff. “We’ve been working to diversify Northern Kentucky’s economy to add strengths in innovation, entrepreneurship, and life sciences.  As easy-to-develop land in Kenton County runs out, we must add more knowledge-driven enterprises to continue elevating the region’s prosperity,” said deputy Judge-Executive Knochelmann.

Dan Hassert, Covington’s communications director, said the proposed center “will take years to plan and build.”

He noted that the plan first must be approved by the General Assembly this year.

This story is republished from the Northern Kentucky Tribune, a nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism.

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