ASHLAND, Ky. — The Tuesday morning announcement that Boyd County and Greenup County have been certified as AEROready was almost like a launch party.
Ashland Alliance President/CEO Tim Gibbs said he was “ready to start working on it today” and has already scheduled another meeting for Wednesday with community leaders from across the region “to start the conversation. This is the first step”
Robert Ingram and Tucson Roberts, consultants from Common Sense Economic Development and Tucson Atlantic Consulting, presented Gibbs with the certificate after an hour-long PowerPoint presentation to a small group who gathered in the Community Room at the Ashland Police Department.
State Rep. Lew Nicholls, D-Greenup, was one of those soaking up the information.
“I’m ready to go to work and do everything I can to get the aerospace industry in northeastern Kentucky,” he said. “We have all the components.
“It was all I could do to keep from jumping up and down and saying ‘Amen!’’’
Nicholls said he has a “good relationship with (Education and Workforce Development Cabinet) Hal Heiner, who helped us get workers (from AK Steel) into classes at ACTC (Ashland Community and Technical College).”
Ingram and Roberts spoke favorably about their impressions of the area from workforce to school systems, proclaiming the region in line with what the aerospace industry wants.
Aerospace is one of the fastest-growing industries in Kentucky.
It had shown a 145 percent increase since 2010. Last year, $8.7 billion was made and the industry is expected to exceed $10 billion in 2016.
The jobs include carpenters, welders, mechanics and dozens of others.
“When I saw that, I was like ‘That’s us,’’’ Nicholls said.
The consultants said the Ashland area had several attributes, including the airport in Worthington and a ready-made skilled workforce made for the industry.
“This is where displaced Steelworkers can go,” Nicholls said.
Greenup County Judge-Executive Bobby Carpenter said the area’s top assets was is obvious.
“I think our plus is our workforce,” he said.