GRAYSON, Ky. — Sen. Rand Paul was in the area on Monday, meeting with leaders from Carter, Boyd, Greenup, Elliott and Lawrence counties at the FIVCO offices on the Industrial Parkway.
Paul discussed the state of the economy as well as plans to improve outdated infrastructure by reallocating funds from other federal programs and from money spent on “nation building” in the Middle East.
Paul said the state — and specifically the northeastern Kentucky region — is doing well economically. He touted national unemployment rates and said, as he went around the area, one of the issues he heard from employers was that they had more work than they could find employees for, which is “a good problem to have.”
Despite negative attention from national media, Paul said, “amazing things are happening” across the nation. He said that one of the complaints from critics of the current administration is that the rich are getting richer, but he argued that the trickle-down effect is present. “Yes, the rich are getting richer,” Paul said. “So are the middle class and so are the poor.”
“I think the future is very bright (for northeastern Kentucky),” he added.
Paul opened the floor to questions and comments from local leaders.
Greenup County Judge Executive Bobby Carpenter asked the senator about the loss of jobs with the closing of AK Steel.
Paul asked if the company was still responsible for maintaining and cleaning up the site after shutting it down, and suggested that another industry might be interested in utilizing the facilities there, as the river and rail infrastructure was still intact and wouldn’t need to be created from scratch. He said offering tax breaks for any new industry willing to locate at the site could be beneficial to its redevelopment.
Ashland mayor Steve Gilmore, however, noted issues the city had with redevelopment of other existing AK sites in the city because of their brownfield status. He said the city would be interested in purchasing the land to offer to other developers. There has never been a cost associated with that.
Paul said he would be happy to advocate for the loosening of federal EPA restrictions on the land, noting that he favored local control over these issues.
Paul said sometimes communities need to focus more on a “good solution” rather than a “perfect solution,” and stated that he would draft a letter asking the federal EPA to defer to the state EPA on site use.