According to Jim Host, Kentucky's Secretary of Commerce, the state's governor Ernie Fletcher is "1000% committed to promoting this industry." That's what Host told members of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Farm Managers' Club when he spoke to them Tuesday evening in Lexington.
However, Host also told the group that Kentucky legislators have an incomplete impression of the state's farm owners.
"People (in the legislature) think that all of you are rich," he said. "But we need to make sure they understand this is a business."
Beyond educating legislators, Host talked of plans to promote Kentucky's signature industry, the horse industry, nationally and internationally. He said a portion of the state's $2.2 tourism promotion budget could be used for that purpose, but that an all-encompassing state advertising campaign could also feature the equine industry. Host said he plans to send out a request for proposals from local and national advertising agencies by the end of March, and that selection process could be complete by April, with a target date of July 1, the first day of the fiscal year, to get that project underway.
"This governor and this state is going to put dollars behind this promotion, which has never been done," he said.
Also in the works is a plan that would make the Kentucky Horse Park a central meeting point for horse farm tour operators. The details are still being worked out but Host, who also worked in state government when the Horse Park was conceived, said if that came to fruition, "it will be the culmination of the dream we envisioned in 1968."
During his speech Host recognized John Gaines, who was in attendance, for his role in conceiving the Horse Park, but also for his recent comments on the Thoroughbred industry in the Lexington Herald-Leader
. Both Gaines and Host received standing ovations from the group.