Economic Development Plan in Works for KY

A statewide economic development plan is being prepared in Kentucky.

Kentucky’s horse industry will most likely be marginally involved in preparation of a statewide economic development strategic plan that should be completed by October 2011.

The state Cabinet for Economic Development said July 7 it has hired the consulting firm Boyette Strategic Advisors of Little Rock, Ark., to develop the plan. The goal, the cabinet said, is to “identify emerging businesses” and “make strategic recommendations designed to position (Kentucky) for economic development success based on its key assets for business.”

The cabinet is operating under the Kentucky Economic Development Partnership Board, according to a release. The board, created by legislation in 1992, has 13 members: the governor, four cabinet secretaries, and eight individuals from the private sector.

“State economic development agencies in today’s global economy must have a clear understanding of their strengths, weaknesses, and advantages on a global level,” Luther Deaton, chairman, president, and chief executive officer of Central Bank & Trust Company and vice chairman of the partnership board said in a statement. “They must adopt an adaptable, strategic and modern approach to economic development.”

Mandy Lambert, a spokeswoman for the Cabinet for Economic Development, said July 12 the project will focus on “industries that match up to our existing incentive programs, and the cabinet does not currently have programs specific to horse breeding or racing.” However, that doesn’t mean the horse industry can’t participate, she said.

Kentucky’s horse industry, which has struggled in recent years, is often called “signature.” Overall, economic development issues figure to be a focal point of this year's gubernatorial election.

“There is no set agenda for the strategic plan, and any and all ideas that will improve Kentucky’s economy are welcome,” Lambert said.

Some information will be gleaned from an online survey that is part of the project. Also, seven public forums have been scheduled around the state, including Lexington on July 28, Louisville on Aug. 2, and Northern Kentucky on Aug. 4.

“People are welcome to attend one of the public ‘visioning meetings’ to be held around the state and speak on opportunities for (the horse industry),” Lambert said.

“We want this process to truly be inclusive of anyone that wishes to share their thoughts and ideas for making Kentucky the most competitive it can be from an economic development standpoint,” Cabinet for Economic Development Secretary Larry Hayes said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the state Legislative Research Commission is preparing to do an economic impact study on Kentucky’s horse industry. Plans call for the results to be published before the 2012 General Assembly session begins in January.