Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Louisville- Lexington Super Region Partnership Good Lesson for Owensboro

Back in the early days of the commonwealth, Lexington and Louisville were about as different as two cities could be.

The Bluegrass metropolis, for a time the largest city west of the Alleghenies, fancied itself an extension of Virginia. Its beau ideal, Henry Clay, had traveled west from Virginia, as had many of the early residents of the town. It boasted elegant streets and spacious homes.

A hundred miles west on the Ohio River, Louisville's origins were far different. The river city was settled by hardy pioneers, many of whom came from the East and were dissatisfied with their lot in life there. Always a bit rowdy, known for its brothels and barrooms, Louisville grew because of its location, soon outpacing Lexington in both wealth and population.

Fast forward to 2011, with two new leaders, both young entrepreneurs interested in setting a new course in partnership, not in competition. Together, they creatively sought support from the Brookings Institution to do a study that explores how to build the corridor between the two cities (which also includes the capital city, Frankfort) to the advantage of both.

The economic development impact of this approach will be felt all around the Commonwealth. What can Owensboro learn from this initiative? Would a similar super regional arrangement with Evansville or Bowling Green provide similar benefit to this region and part of the state?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Governor Beshear Announces Launch of Work Ready Communities Certification

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Aug. 16, 2011) – Thanks to the launch of Work Ready Communities by the Kentucky Workforce Investment Board (KWIB) today, Governor Beshear announced today that Kentucky counties can now be certified as “work ready” based on the quality of their labor force.

The new program is designed to transform local economies and give counties a competitive advantage in attracting new businesses and jobs.

“We have business and industry in Kentucky that require a skilled workforce. This program provides us with a way to prove it, county by county,” said Gov. Steve Beshear. “In addition, the program promotes collaboration among key community stakeholders including education, economic development, elected officials, employers, workforce agencies and community organizations as they work toward common community goals.”

Earning Certified Work Ready Community status assures that local workforces have the talent necessary to staff existing jobs and to master the innovative technologies new jobs will require in the future.

Each community must gather local support and commitment and apply for the Work Ready Community designation. To earn certification, counties will have to meet established criteria in six specific areas:
· high school graduation rate,
· National Career Readiness Certificate holders,
· demonstrated community commitment,
· educational attainment,
· soft skills development, and
· digital literacy.

“The community experience of the application process is a valuable component of achieving Work Ready status,” said Education and Workforce Development Cabinet Secretary Joseph U. Meyer. “As a state, we must focus on the importance of setting workforce and economic development goals, and this program allows us to develop a framework and work together as communities toward those goals.”

Communities close to meeting the criteria will be awarded the distinguished designation of Work Ready Community in Progress. To achieve this status, a county must present a viable plan to meet all of the criteria within three years. This designation demonstrates that a community is making strides and working with its business community to improve.

“We understand that achieving Work Ready status may be difficult, but the bar must be set high for the certification to have meaning to employers,” said Kentucky Economic Development Cabinet Secretary Larry Hayes. “Work Ready status shows employers and prospective employers that a county has the talented workforce that business demands – a sustainable pipeline that delivers the right workers with the right skills at the right time.”

Applications will be reviewed by a panel appointed by the KWIB. That panel will then recommend certification by the board for those counties that meet the criteria. The panel will meet three times per year and applications may be submitted at any time of the year.

For more information about the criteria and how to apply for certification, go to http://kwib.ky.gov/workreadycommunity.htm

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Governor Beshear Announces Expansion of Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport

OWENSBORO, Ky. (Aug. 11, 2011) – Governor Steve Beshear today joined community and airport leaders from the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport (OWB) to announce the airport will undergo an expansion of its terminal. The expansion will significantly increase the size of the waiting area, along with the baggage handling and pick-up areas. The Airport, local Transportation Security Administration and the Airport’s Fixed Base Operator are adding three full-time and several part-time positions because of the terminal expansion and additional flights.

“The Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport continues to experience significant growth, which is good for both economic development and tourism,” said Gov. Beshear. “The Commonwealth is proud to partner with community and airport officials to make further enhancements that will not only improve the terminal, but will create jobs for Kentuckians.”

Since the time of the airport’s 1993 Master Plan Update, more than $26 million in federal, state and local funds have been invested in improving OWB’s airfield infrastructure. Several runways have been extended and the airport now boasts the third longest runway in Kentucky.

The improved airfield was critical to OWB’s attraction of Allegiant Airlines in February 2009, which offers flights to and from Orlando, Fla. Allegiant recently announced a new passenger service from OWB to Las Vegas, NV beginning in October.

“The Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport is becoming the new front door for our region. This terminal expansion will be noticed by visitors arriving and departing Owensboro – Daviess Co. and as such, will be a direct reflection on the immediate region,” said Ray Asmar, Chairman of the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport Board of Directors. “A mile of highway will take you a mile, but, a mile of runway will take you anywhere!”

The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved the airport for a no-interest loan to help facilitate the improvements, which will have a positive impact on economic development. The loan will be repaid through entitlement proceeds received from the Federal Aviation Administration.

In addition, the Department for Local Government awarded $500,000 in multi-county coal severance funds to Daviess and Ohio counties in effort to help complete the terminal expansion and improvement project at OWB. Multi-County Local Government Economic Development Funds (LGEDF)/Coal Severance Funds are a portion of coal severance taxes set aside to fund projects benefiting two or more coal-producing counties.

“This airport explansion could not have come at a better time as the Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport has just been awarded an additional jet service route,” said Rep. Tommy Tompson, of Owensboro. “The expansion will alllow our airport to better serve the needs of its customers and is a great investment. I want to thank Governor Beshear for his continued support of our community and for his leadership, and I want to thank our local leaders for moving this project from the drawing board to reality.”

Friday, August 5, 2011

Kentucky Export Initiative holding free session to assist Owensboro area businesses with exporting

The Kentucky Export Initiative, scheduled for September 13 at GRADD, will provide regional businesses with an introduction to exporting.

The day-long seminar will cover topics such as finding the right partner markets, legal and financial considerations, and logistics of exporting goods to international markets.

Visit www.kyexports.com to register or call Jeanine Duncliffe at 502.564.7140.  There is no cost, but space is limited and registration is required.

The Greater Owensboro Economic Development Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce, GRADD, the Small Business Development Center, and Northwest Kentucky Forward are among the sponsors of the event.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Allegiant Air to fly direct from Owensboro to Las Vegas

Allegiant Air confirmed Thursday that it will add nonstop jet service between Owensboro-Daviess County Regional Airport and Las Vegas starting Oct. 14. The announcement came at a 10 a.m. news conference. The introductory fare for Owensboro travelers is $89.99. The Las Vegas flights will be on Mondays and Fridays. Departure time from Owensboro is 12:20 p.m. with arrival in Las Vegas at 2:10 p.m. for about a 4-hour flight with the time zone changes. The Las Vegas-based carrier already flies nonstop between Owensboro and Orlando. The success of those flights was a primary factor in the company’s decision to add another route, a company spokesperson said.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Hispanics playing a large role in Owensboro's growth

The Regional Economist, a quarterly publication of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, has analyzed the role of Hispanics in population growth of metropolitan areas in the seven state Eighth Federal Reserve Bank district based in St. Louis.

Owensboro is one of two metros identified where Hispanic population growth accounted for the largest share of population growth over the past ten years, according to the 2010 Census.  From 2000 to 2010, nearly a quarter (1.6 percent overall) of Owensboro's 4.4 percent growth came from the Hispanic population.  Non-Hispanic white population growth constituted 1.2 percent of the 4.4 percent growth in the Owensboro MSA during this period.  This growth closely resembled the  trend of Hispanic growth nationwide.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Forbes: Owensboro rank among best small places for business and careers

Owensboro made the latest Forbes ranking of best small places for business and careers.

The Owensboro MSA ranked number 58 on the list of top 100 small metropolitan regions.

“Forbes is a very credible publication read in the world of business,” said EDC President Nick Brake. “That kind of exposure is strong recognition of the positive things going on in our region.”

Owensboro, KY - #58 Best Small Places for Business and Careers