Friday, June 24, 2011

Steve Martin Draws Huge Crowd at Owensboro Bluegrass Festival

The opening session of ROMP: Bluegrass Roots & Branches Festival at Yellow Creek Park, certainly lived up to its billing Thursday night.

The crowd was huge, blanketing the hillside in front of the stage for hundreds of yards in all directions. Even the weather was perfect. And, of course, there was star power in the person of stand-up comedian-actor-author and accomplished musician Steve Martin, who performed with The Steep Canyon Rangers.

Martin led The Steep Canyon Rangers onto the stage shortly after 8 p.m. to a chorus of cheers and applause. They didn’t disappoint, performing tight instrumentals, with Martin mixing sharp skills on the banjo with lots of humor.

“Now I wish I had practiced,” Martin declared as he gazed over the crowd of several thousand fans. “It’s been a longtime dream of mine to play bluegrass music in Owensboro, Kentucky!”

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Emerge Owensboro application date fast approaching

Owensboro's leadership program —Emerge Owensboro— is taking applications for the Class of 2012 through July 8th. A joint program of the Chamber and the EDC, Emerge Owensboro is a community immersion program that meets at least once per month starting September 8th for eight months. Anyone interested in learning more about the community or to prepare for future leadership positions in the workplace is encouraged to apply. Tuition is only $450.

Click here to download an application.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pierce Report Provided Blueprint for New Economic Development Strategy

The nationally respected Citistates group recently returned to Owensboro to update its 1991 analysis of the region by meeting with stakeholders and conducting interviews on the progress of the community since the publication of the Pierce Report 20 years ago.

The 1991 Peirce Report, named for journalist and Citistates group founder Neil Pierce, largely characterized Owensboro as a Heartland city on the verge.

The Owensboro of the early 1990s, reported Peirce and collaborator Curtis Johnson, was a conservative community clearly comfortable with American economic and social convention. It chased smokestack industries, for instance, and disregarded the value of women as community leaders.

The results of the report served as a blueprint for the new economic development strategy the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation presented to the community in 2006. Pierce was highly critical of the region's less than sophisticated approach to economic development that relied solely on the "big catch" in referring to the constant search for the next manufacturing plant to locate in the community.

Rather he suggested that the region use a more strategic approach in cultivating entrepreneurs and focusing on education as the path to prosperity in the modern economy. The report also suggested that the downtown area was an under utilized asset on the road to community improvement.

In 2006 the EDC Board embraced a new strategy that focused economic development efforts on Talent, Innovation and Place. Education, quality of place and growing new companies through the efforts of entrepreneurs began to compliment the traditional industrial recruitment efforts of the EDC.

Since 2006 the region has adopted a comprehensive Placemaking strategy to enhance the quality of place downtown, put in place a one-stop center, eMerging Ventures and created a state-of the-art business accelerator to nurture start-up businesses, and made numerous strides in the access and opportunities in secondary and postseconday education aligned to the workforce.

The challenge with this approach is that it is a long-term strategy. While the results have been very positive, continued long-term support will be important for success.

Click here to read the 1991 Pierce Report. Visit to read about the current Citistates project in Owensboro.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

AT&T Acquisition of T-Mobile will Enhance Wireless Broadband in Owensboro

One of the main topics of discussion this past year was AT&T’s 3G wireless broadband service--or, rather, the lack of AT&T 3G service in Owensboro while many of our neighboring cities already had access to this technology. Our interest at the Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation was driven by the needs of our businesses and the impact lack of service was having on economic development.

AT&T’s response to us, and the community, was that deploying a mobile broadband network was complex and involved many factors, with the major factor being spectrum. There was not enough spectrum (airwaves) available in Owensboro to offer 3G service. Finally, in December this issue was resolved with the announcement that Owensboro now had AT&T 3G service. At the risk of not sounding grateful, members of the EDC were already asking about AT&T’s plan for 4G service.

The importance of a high-speed mobile broadband network that serves every town, large or small, cannot be overstated. It’s not just a matter of how fast your pictures or videos load. Mobile broadband will be a key driver of productivity in almost every business and will change the way we deliver health care and education. And, what is of immense importance to Owensboro and west Kentucky is that it will allow smaller towns to compete on an equal basis with larger cities. Owensboro needs the latest wireless broadband technology available to be competitive, grow our town and attract people to our community--particularly young graduates wanting to come home.

You may have read about AT&T’s offer to acquire T-Mobile. There are many reasons given why this merger is a perfect fit for the two companies. Primarily, they use the same technology and their networks complement each other. But what makes the T-Mobile merger so important to Owensboro is that AT&T will gain the spectrum needed to enhance our existing 3G service and to deploy 4G to 97 percent of the households in America. Without this additional spectrum, AT&T’s current plan is to serve 80 percent of its households. Owensboro and all other small and rural towns simply cannot afford to be part of that 20 percent that has to wait.

We urge the FCC to approve the AT&T/T-Mobile merger agreement. The Greater Owensboro region deserves the best possible resources to help our local businesses grow and thrive. The GO-EDC has seen the benefits mobile broadband can bring and we believe the merger is a big step forward in boosting workplace productivity, investment, and most importantly, employment.