Op-Ed: Planting the Seeds of Success in Economic Development

Josh Tubbs – President, Kentucky Lake Economic Development

Economic development looks different for each community. Though there is no one definition for economic development, we may be able to narrow its meaning to the creation of jobs, wealth and a better quality of life.  Every transaction from the local service station, the curriculum taught at our local schools to the production at our largest manufacturer impacts economic development. 

Area Development, a respected source for economic developers, offers an annual survey of consultants and companies identifying site selection factors for economic development projects.  This year’s top factor was Availability of Skilled Labor.  Other factors in the top ten include Proximity to Markets, Highway Accessibility, Labor Cost, State & Local Incentives, Taxes, Quality of Life and Available Land & Buildings.

Recent trends in lower unemployment rates and continued urbanization of  population throughout the country make the availability of people extremely important to rural areas like ours.  So important that focus on talent recruitment has in many ways replaced retail recruitment.  One may ask why and my best answer would be that we must have people who earn a living wage to support our local businesses.  We must also have people in our community to provide a workforce to companies considering location.  This workforce resource isn’t limited to political jurisdictions.  We are best served by embracing the regional labor shed in West Kentucky.  People and product appear to be continued driving factors in how we are successful in attracting projects.

Our mission at Kentucky Lake Economic Development is to advocate for an environment conducive to investment leading to meaningful employment for our citizens. This provides our citizens the dignity of earning a living wage and leading productive lives.  This mission also assist in growing and expanding our existing industry right here in Marshall County, Kentucky.  We are doing that by aggressively recruiting industries with positions in engineering, technology, assembly, production, manufacturing and administration.  KLED is moving forward with the Marshall County Industrial Development Authority in marketing Southwest One Industrial Park and building a sustainable non-profit economic development program.

For the first time in our community’s history, we are innovating and creating economic development impacts that will lead to future success in our community.  We are able to proactively talk to corporate decision makers regarding site selection, opening the door to discuss all of the assets of our community including our incredible workforce.  We are dedicated to the public education component of economic development so that you are a part of celebrating successes and recognizing our needs as a community. We have a process in place, inclusive of both the private and public sector, that creates a platform of appreciation, partnership and leadership development.

A friend recently shared the shade tree analogy with me:  We don’t plant the seeds of a shade tree to provide an immediate benefit, we do it to benefit our future generations.  We are just getting started!

Check out www.kledc.com to learn more or call us at 270.527.2009.