On August 31st 2021 the City of Danville hosted the first Danville and Boyle County Economic Development Symposium. The primary goal was to align the thinking and action to strengthen relationships for those entities and individuals responsible for fostering an environment for economic vitality and supporting economic growth. Many local and regional business owners, community leaders, and educators were in attendance. To improve understanding the event was highlighted with discussions on the impact of COVID, national elections, technology within manufacturing, workforce trends and ever-changing retail/consumer behaviors the are rippling through the economy. We desired for our community to begin considering these issues and continue to push ourselves towards the most efficient approach of economic development.
The event was be moderated by John Bevington, Director of Business Development at LG&E and KU Electric, LLC.
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Featured Speakers and Agenda:
The first speaker of the day Mr. Wooldridge set the tone of creative thought and visionary approach to economic development. Mr. Wooldridge spoke broadly about economic development concepts and how important economic investment with an expectation of a return on the investment was for local governments. In short: Job Creation creates social stability and fosters a stronger community while stabilizing revenue for governments.
Recent challenges to economic growth are the impact of Covid, pressure on wages, immigration, and workforce availability. Interestingly the current issues related to the Covid recession for example are service industry based and are not a basic supply/demand driven recession issues. This raises many questions? The combination of challenges noted above have caused an acceleration of automation which is projected to continue. All these issues were discussed at length with ideas towards solutions including for example regionalized approaches to economic recruitment and increasing awareness of entrepreneur efforts to start small businesses. Communities like Danville must be able to communicate its unique story and invest in our community in order to recruit new millennials and entrepreneurs. These are the a driving force in growth and communities must work to draw them and keep them.
Mr. Wooldridge currently serves as an instructor in the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business in the areas of finance, banking and economic development. He also serves as the director of the newly created Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development at Murray State University. As the director, he operates in a regional outreach capacity connecting community and campus seeking to develop student academic learning opportunities as well as create jobs and wealth to improve the economic conditions in the region.
Paramount to success is the recruitment of industry, people, and businesses to a community. Mrs. Land presented concepts that are considered when companies seek to invest in a community, also known as “site selection”. Being an expert in the industry Mrs. Land reinforced the need for a community to invest in infrastructure in order to maximize its ability to entice companies and individuals into a community. Workforce availability along with quality of life are two of the most important drivers as companies seek a site. The local governments through investment in schools, parks and recreation have a significant influence in both of these drivers. Also discussed was the KY Project Development Initiative program which is the method the state aids local communities in the process of site development.
Beth H. Land is Vice President within the Industrial and Economic Development Division of Site Selection Group. She has established a southeastern presence for SSG in Greenville, South Carolina, and manages corporate site selection projects. Based on her experience in helping companies choose where to locate, she also offers economic development services to communities, focusing on site readiness assessment and development.
Ms. Land’s professional experience includes over three years at McCallum Sweeney Consulting as a Senior Consultant, working with clients such as Dollar General and Aerojet Rocketdyne. She also managed the Duke Energy Site Readiness Program, South Carolina Department of Commerce Site Certification Program, and Tennessee Valley Authority Mega Site Certification Program.
Within the confines of economic sustainability is entrepreneurial activity. In short, yes “home runs” are essential but “singles” and “doubles” lead to runs scored as well. In other words, landing a large industry is important but equally important is the establishment of small businesses employing 5-10 employees. Mr. Hagerman took time to describe steps taken in Madisonville to foster and development an entrepreneurial culture, support for new small businesses, and infrastructure to ensure sustainable businesses. The establishment of the Kentucky Innovation Station is a major investment to lead the effort for Madisonville. The question therefore becomes what is Danville/Boyle doing to develop and support new and existing small businesses….
Ray Hagerman, CEcD, has been President of Madisonville Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation since April 2016. Ray has been an economic development executive for the last 20 years following a 15-year career in commercial banking and serving as a USAF officer. His experience includes serving in the South, Midwest and Southwest. He has had successes in recruitment, expansion projects in every location he has served as well as building entrepreneur programs. A big believer in the value of Entrepreneurial Development to overall Economic Development success, Ray has led efforts in co-working and incubation in Madisonville with the establishment of the Innovation Station and the Kentucky Movers and Makerspace. In addition, he has been instrumental in new and expansion projects totaling over $150 million and 1,100 jobs in the community and helped establish the Madisonville Community College helicopter and fixed wing aviation programs at the Madisonville Municipal Airport.
A big component is local incentives. All communities qualify for state incentives tied to investment, but the distinguishing factors during site selection and investment is how the local communities impact recruitment with incentives. Mr. Bolton provides examples of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and of market tax credits.
Casey Bolton is a Partner at Commonwealth Economics. Mr. Bolton has specialized in various forms of economic analysis, including managing several feasibility analyses and economic and fiscal impact studies since joining CE in 2009. Mr. Bolton has experience in dealing with various forms of economic incentive programs at both the State and Federal level, especially Tax Increment Financing, and has been involved in the analysis and structuring of a variety of public-private partnership project delivery models throughout the region. Mr. Bolton also has experience working with early-stage companies to develop business plans, scenario-based financial models, pitch books, and offering documents to raise capital. Mr. Bolton received his Bachelor of Science degree in Financial Economics with a minor in Political Economy from Centre College in Danville, Kentucky and holds the FINRA/MSRB Series 50 Municipal Advisor designation.
A terrific closing speaker Mr. Bloch dives into the “future economy”. As easily discovered with a review of history economic development and growth is largely dependent upon transportation. From travel by foot, horse, buggy, rail, streetcar and automobiles community’s locations, shapes and sizes have been controlled by how humans move around. Now with the development of modern highly efficient batteries and electric motors what does the future of transportation hold? Mr. Bloch presents evidence that advancements in these technologies are leading to new ways of transportation that are predicably altering where people live and work. It is a fun exercise to speculate on the impact of new “transportation” on economic activity but, it is a future we must prepare for now…not just to speculate on… We are challenged to decide how we can fit our community into the modern science of travel and enable our community to be not only sustainable but to also thrive in the future.
Todd Bloch joined American Engineers as Director of Aviation in July 2021. He provides oversight of the firm’s multidisciplinary services as Engineer of Record for nine Kentucky aviation system clients. Todd is the former Commissioner of the Kentucky Department of Aviation where he and his team managed the distribution of more than $135 million in state funding at all public airports in Kentucky. He oversaw and maintained compliance with federal and state inspections conducted by the Department’s airport safety inspection team and promoted the safe and responsible use and information dissemination of UAS technology and equipment for the Transportation Cabinet and other state agencies. Todd began his career as a Combat Engineer in the Army National Guard and went on to active duty as a helicopter pilot. He held a variety of positions that provided diverse experience in leadership and management with assignments throughout the U.S., Germany, Hungary, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Brazil. As an Army Captain, Todd was with the first NATO forces to cross the Sava River into Bosnia for Operation Joint Endeavor during Christmas of 1995. After completing his service in Brazil, Todd transitioned to the United States Coast Guard. He was awarded an Air Medal for one of his lifesaving missions, was featured in two episodes of the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch, and flew in multiple scenes in the Kevin Costner movie, The Guardian. Todd completed his military career as the Director of Aviation Law Enforcement Training, with responsibility for developing and teaching policy and techniques for missions including airborne use of force for counter-terrorism, counter-drug, and facilities security.