BY SHELLEY BYRNE firstname.lastname@example.org
About 110 people learned about state and local economic development efforts, including a new $9 million grant program, during the Mayfield/Graves County Chamber of Commerce's Business and Industry breakfast Tuesday.
Matt Tackett, president and chief executive officer for the Kentucky Association for Economic Development, was the featured speaker. Graves County Economic Development served as presenting sponsor.
Kentucky had a record $9.2 billion in new economic development last year, Tackett said. KAED, a 700-member professional organization, is helping to bring together government, business organizations, utilities and others together to spread the importance of working together to educate, advocate for and market Kentucky.
Part of that is assisting with business recruitment.
"We go to CEOs and tell them, 'Look, you're not going to find a better place to do business than Kentucky,'" Tackett said.
The organization also works on developing business-friendly legislation, including the TVA in lieu of tax bill passed by the legislature earlier this year that brings a portion of the money TVA pays back to counties where TVA operates, earmarked specifically for economic development. Tackett and Graves County Economic Development President Ryan Drane both testified before the General Assembly when the legislation was under consideration.
"Kentucky will change," Tackett said. "Kentucky will be stronger and more competitive because of the TVA in lieu of legislation."
The vocal support of western Kentuckians is what allowed the measure to be passed this year when it had not been successful in several previous years, Tackett said.
"There was no way in the world the legislature was going to say no to west Kentucky," Tackett said.
KAED also offers classes and community assessments to help officials learn how to make their communities more attractive to business and industry.
Most recently, KAED received funding through community partners to launch Develop Kentucky, a program awarding grants of up to $500,000 to communities who need help to launch capital improvement projects in which they work in collaboration with others. Communities receiving the grants must match the funds awarded for the projects. Grants will be awarded over the next three years.
Following the breakfast, Tackett said one of his reasons for coming to Graves County was to congratulate the community on its recent investment successes, including Mayfield Consumer Products' purchase of the former Remington Arms plant in the Hickory Industrial park. MCP's expansion, announced in July, is an $8.3 million multi-phase investment projected to create 52 full-time jobs.
"Outside of the Graves County borders that makes a transformative impact throughout the region and also the state," Tackett said of the Graves County Economic Development efforts.
Drane also highlighted the work of his organization.
"To say there's a lot going on in Graves County would really probably be an understatement," he said.
He talked about the importance of creating generational change, change that ultimately makes Graves County a better place for not only its residents to live but also their children and grandchildren.
Graves County has led the region in the past three years in job creation, Drane said. Since 2015, Graves County Economic Development has worked on 18 projects, leading to more than 950 verified new jobs on businesses' payrolls and more than $121 million injected into the local economy.
"We're not about to stop there," Drane said.
One effort is enhancing the lighting and improving signs at the Hickory Industrial Park. Within six months, he said, it could be one of the top industrial sites in the state.
Without being specific, Drane also looked to a positive future for business and industry within Graves County, saying, "I look for very good things in the next six months to a year."