FRANKFORT, Ky. — As a featured speaker at the Invest in America! 2017 Summit, Gov. Matt Bevin told global investors, trade consultants and national media that workforce development efforts, cutting red tape and signing right-to-work legislation are improving Kentucky’s business climate and propelling the state toward a record investment level.
“When I was elected, one of the reasons I ran as a business person is I wanted to create an environment in which business could thrive,” said Gov. Bevin, who is 17 months into his first term. “Cutting regulation, passing good regulation, passing P3 legislation, these things will allow Kentucky to be more of a magnet now.”
The summit, organized by and hosted at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, included a lunchtime keynote address by US Vice President Mike Pence and discussions with Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and New York Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul. Attendees included business people from Japan, China, Germany, Canada, Thailand and other nations.
Three $1 billion-plus investments in Kentucky announced this year by Amazon, Toyota and Braidy Industries – as well as dozens of other companies’ investments – are pushing the state toward a new high. The commonwealth’s full-year investment record of $5.1 billion will likely be eclipsed in the coming week, only five months into the year.
In addition to policies and programs, Gov. Bevin credited the state’s water, highway and rail systems, its central location within a day’s drive of two-thirds of the US population, and its unparalleled distribution and logistics assets – including two UPS shipping hubs in Louisville and, at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, hubs by DHL and Amazon. For those reasons and more, he told the crowd, Kentucky stands as a top location for corporate investment and trade relationships.
“A strong America is good. So, when you hear about people investing in America, making America strong, that’s good because a strong America is a strong trading partner. And a strong trading partner is good for all countries,” Gov. Bevin said. “So I am an advocate for it and as a governor, I am also looking to directly partner and create trading agreements directly with provinces in Canada and directly with countries. So if you have an interest in partnering with Kentucky, I would like to speak with you.”
Gov. Bevin also held up the $100 million bond-funded Work Ready Skills Initiative as a national model. Through local partnerships that include high schools, institutions of higher learning and businesses, the Work Ready Skills Initiative this year selected 40 partnerships through which it will help fund custom workforce training programs. In doing so, the initiative is also leveraging tens of millions of dollars more in local and corporate investments. This year through the end of April, internationally owned companies in Kentucky announced more than a dozen new facilities or expansion projects in several of the state’s target industries including automotive, food and beverage and primary metals. Internationally owned companies employ 105,000 Kentuckians at nearly 500 facilities across the commonwealth. Japan is the largest international investor, with nearly 200 facilities, followed by Germany.
Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com. Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/ThinkKentucky or follow on Twitter at www.Twitter.com/ThinkKentucky. Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.
The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2015 totaled a state record $5.1 billion, spurring more than 16,000 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at www.ThinkKentucky.com.