CORBA Plans Celebration For Decade Of Service To Cincinnati Area Maritime Industry

The Central Ohio River Business Association (CORBA) will celebrate its 10th anniversary September 16 with guest speakers and the unveiling of a plaque on the Newport Southbank Bridge.

The pedestrian bridge, commonly known as the Purple People Bridge, spans the Ohio River between Cincinnati, Ohio, and Newport, Ky.

“We hope to create a great event for all of our members and guests,” CORBA chairman Scott James said. 

The event, from 3 to 6 p.m., will also include recognition of past chairmen Eric Thomas of Benchmark Terminals, Dave Hammond of Inland Marine, Rob Carlisle of C&B Marine and Jeff Stewart of Cincinnati Barge & Rail, each of whom served two years and helped CORBA grow along the way.

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CORBA is dedicated to promoting commerce, transportation and the maritime community throughout the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

“Our association was established to help promote the maritime community within the central Ohio River corridor because we felt that there was not a cohesive voice to represent the maritime industry,” James said. “We offer support to the entire local maritime community.”

The organization has supported regional economic development efforts.

“CORBA has worked very hard with economic development offices in the CORBA region on river-related projects and has tried to provide a level of expertise to help attract industrial prospects to the CORBA region,” James said.

He believes CORBA has grown over the past decade in part because board members are a committed group of individuals who have followed the lead of the past four chairmen.

“The entire group has a collective passion to promote the marine industry in the region and beyond,” James said.

Some of CORBA’s successes have included: redesignation of the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky in 2015; formation of a regional maritime committee that meets every other month to address issues; partnering with the Ohio Kentucky Indiana Regional Council of Governments (OKI) in 2016 to create the nationally recognized comprehensive mapping system called the Central Ohio River Information System (CORIS); assisting in the 2019 creation of the Ohio River Coalition of Ohio (ORCO); and a marine highway project designation approved in 2020 that resulted in several million dollars in U.S. Maritime Administration grants to some of CORBA’s members as well as neighboring ports. 

 Guest speakers at the celebration will be Mark Policinski, CEO of OKI, and U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, who represents Kentucky’s fourth district, including the northern Kentucky suburbs of Cincinnati.

“Mr. Policinski, as CEO of OKI, has been critically important to the development of CORBA going back to its early days,” James said. “Mr. Policinski and OKI have supported CORBA at every turn, offering assistance whether it be allowing OKI employees to be very active in CORBA or offering all available resources to help grow and develop the message of CORBA.  Mr. Policinski will touch on some of the highlights that OKI and CORBA have partnered on over the years as well as give a quick update on what’s going on at OKI.  Congressman Thomas Massie has been a long-time supporter of the CORBA mission and, among other things, will update CORBA on the status of the infrastructure bill being considered in Washington.”

The plaque unveiling is expected to be a ceremony highlight.

“The Purple People Bridge is a pedestrian bridge that sees several hundred thousand visitors per year,” James said. “By locating a permanent plaque on the bridge, we can both help educate the public every day, which is very important, about the CORBA mission and promote the benefits of the maritime industry. We wanted to mark our 10 years of service in a very special way, and Southbank Partners assisted us in finding the best possible location on the Purple People Bridge that spans a marine highway, the great Ohio River.”

While it is important, especially having gone through the COVID-19 pandemic, to celebrate achievements and “take time to smell the roses,” he said, James added that he believes CORBA has even better things yet to come.

He said, “CORBA’s best days are ahead of it as the underutilized inland river system becomes a larger part of the national transportation conversation, not only because it is the cleanest mode of transportation but because it can better assist our economy as a link between all other modes of transportation and markets.”