Brad Thompson has a new job. He’s the first ever executive director of Ken-Tenn Alliance, an organization of county judges in two counties in Kentucky and their counterparts in three Tennessee counties.
Thompson, worked for now retired Tennessee Congressman John Tanner, will lead an effort to promote five counties along the Mississippi River. Obion, Lake, Wheatley Counties in Tennessee and Fulton and Hickman Counties in Kentucky have combined in what Thompson said is a partnership across state lines that is happening nowhere else in America.
The far western Kentucky Port of Hickman and the far western Tennessee port called Gates Landing, near Tiptonville, share an opportunity to capitalize on the expansion of the Panama Canal. A railroad connects the two ports which are the farthest north ice free ports on the Mississippi. Shipping goods up the Mississippi to be loaded on rail cars or shipped by truck to urban markets should be an attractive alternative to sending them to the West Coast to be shipped back across the US.
The expansion of the Canal is expected to be completed in 2014. Shipping through the Canal is expected to increase business opportunities along the Mississippi River. How much the increase will be and whether the westernmost parts of Tennessee and Kentucky will benefit remains to be seen.
Thompson sees a “tremendous opportunity” in the Alliance. While working for Tanner, he worked on multiple projects in the 19 counties of Tanner’s district. Now he will have one project and five counties to concentrate on. Familiar with the Tennessee counties, Thompson has been touring the Kentucky counties he will be representing.
The first job for the new executive director will be governmental relations -bringing local, state and federal resources to the Alliance. Marketing will be a big part of his job. He will be selling the counties on the east side of the Mississippi River in the center of America to potential employers and investors.