Economic Development issues discussed by Chamber of Commerce, Ky. Power and county officials…
LOUISA, Ky. — The Southeast Kentucky Chamber of Commerce has partnered with AEP-KY Power to do an economic development study of eastern Kentucky. Together, they have hired Insite Consulting Group, based out of South Carolina, to conduct the study.
On Wednesday, Feb.20, representatives from various businesses in the community met with the group to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the county.
Brad Hall, External Affairs Manager for AEP, opened the meeting by welcoming those in attendance, and giving a brief overview of the agenda.
He then introduced Tonya Crist, and Rodney Cornwell, owners of Insite.
Crist explained that businesses and manufacturers have a specific list of requirements when they are looking for a new site to locate to. Insite meets with professionals, landowners, and other people in the area, and determine what needs to happen to meet those requirements of potential new developers.
“We know what companies want in a location.” Crist said. Insite comes into an area and looks for those features. By doing so, gaps become apparent, making it easier to see what needs to be done. “It’s our job to help bridge those gaps and make the area a viable location for prospective employers.” Crisp said.
“If you are buying a car, you want to know what all the options are on it. It’s the same when a business is searching for a location, Insite Co-owner, Robert D. Cornwell, said. “They want to know if they can be successful there, and every unknown question is a risk.”
After assessing the area, the goal is to create a regional economic development authority, that will work to make the area able to satisfy those requirements. The county can then market to prospects. Insite will be visiting eight counties in eastern Kentucky, as this is a regional project, including Pike, Johnson, Knott, Lawrence, Floyd, Magoffin, Letcher, and Martin.
Some of the local businesses and developers present at the meeting were Three Rivers Medical Center, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Yatesville Lake, and Best Western. A representative for Morehead State University was also present.
The strengths of Lawrence County that were mentioned included its location within the Tri-State area, including access to Rt. 23, I-64, and the Tri-State Aiirport. Other pluses were a low crime rate, a large water and sewer capacity, the nice recreation facilities of Yatesville Lake, gas lines, and major utilities.
Some of the weaknesses discussed that could be hindering economic growth and development were the town’s small size, lack of entertainment, drug problems, computer illiteracy and lack of skilled workers, poor wireless communication, the fact that Lawrence is a dry county, and higher education facilities are located too far away.
County Judge John Osborne was to be showing Mr. Cornwell and Ms. Crist around the county Wednesday. Insite will return in July with their findings and suggestions, and a plan will be made to put together a regional economic development team to work on issues, so that the county and the region can become successful in attracting new businesses, manufacturers, and industries.