Del Boyette, founder of Boyette Strategic Advisors, brought his team from Arkansas on a listening tour as the first stage of helping the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Cabinet craft a five year plan. The plan is scheduled to be completed October 2011.
The tour started Tuesday morning at Kentucky Dam Village near Gilbertsville and will go to Bowling Green on Wednesday. In his opening remarks, Boyette said Kentucky has a deep, rich history of which to be proud and a positive reputation. Worldwide, people think Kentucky Derby when they think of the Bluegrass State.
Tuesday’s session included forty five “stake holders” - economic development, tourism and area development directors, university officials, a contingent of coal and electric company execs and one legislator, Rep. Fred Nesler of Mayfield. Participants were asked to share their thoughts about Kentucky through a series of questions. Responses were recorded on a power point presentation.
Issues related to coal and energy production came up early from some participants. The Environmental Protection Agency was singled out as being an oppressor of energy production. One participant predicted that Kentucky would soon no longer be able to claim cheap energy costs as a draw to industry as costs related to regulatory compliance climbs.
Several who work recruiting business to Kentucky mentioned that right to work states make headway with potential employers. They felt that Kentucky’s reputation as a bastion of union labor is a hindrance to bringing in new industry.
Other participants had different ideas. Improving Kentucky’s outlook for the next five years should include strong local economic development organizations, more assistance for start up businesses similar to the service Murray State University provides and educational initiatives that include improved workforce development training and a greater percentage of college degrees and technical certifications. Keeping young people in Kentucky and stopping the population drain were two other suggestions.
The tour will run into regional issues wherever it goes. While one expresses the hope that economic development in one region will bring benefits to all, that has not been the experience in the past.
Boyette seemed surprised when the topic of politics and the upcoming gubernatorial election came up. The five year plan does not appear to have anything to do with the political climate in Kentucky as contemplated by the consultant. In reality, politics may have everything to do with it. Should the next governor not be the incumbent, the five year plan may turn out to be a five month plan – begun in July, presented in October and DOA in December.
The online survey can be accessed by clicking http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/572051/Kentucky-Resident-Survey.
Dates, times and locations of the seven statewide economic development visioning meetings are as follows:
Wednesday, July 27 - 9 a.m. – noon CT - National Corvette Museum Conference Center, 350 Corvette Drive, Bowling Green, Ky.
Thursday, July 28 -8:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. ET - Lexington Convention Center, Elkhorn Rooms A-D, 430 West Vine Street, Lexington, Ky.
Thursday, July 28 - 2 p.m. – 5 p.m. ET - Corbin Technology Center, - 222 Corbin Center Drive, Corbin, Ky.
Tuesday, August 2 - 9 a.m. – noon ET - KFC YUM! Center, Hickman Camp Room, 1 Arena Plaza, Louisville, Ky.
Wednesday, August 3 - 9 a.m. – noon ET - East Kentucky Expo Center, - Ballroom A & B, 126 Main Street, Pikeville, Ky.
Thursday, August 4 - 9 a.m. – noon ET - The METS Center Auditorium, 3861 Olympic Blvd., Erlanger, Ky.