Opinion – Terri Bradshaw: Celebrating legislature’s support of Kentucky Product Development Initiative

It almost never happens these days – 100% of our legislative leaders agreeing on a cause. But here in Kentucky it has happened yet again.

We should all applaud the Governor and every legislator for their unanimous approval of the various bills that continued to support and fund the Kentucky Product Development Initiative (KPDI), a program created in statute by the Kentucky General Assembly after seeing the success of a three-year pilot project that was developed through a partnership with the Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development (CED).

In 2022, as it became apparent that a lack of buildings and land was restricting Kentucky’s ability to secure industrial projects, the Legislature unanimously created and statutorily authorized the KPDI and inserted the structure and scoring system of the pilot into law. Additionally, they appropriated $100 million for the two-year budget period to invest in site and building development in communities both large and small.

Terri Bradshaw (Photo from KAED)

The Governor endorsed and signed the bills and the KAED and the CED continue to collaborate with a third-party site selection consultant to approve project awards and help communities prepare sites and buildings for future development. To date, this program has approved 54 projects across the Commonwealth with numerous others in the pipeline.

The success of the 2022 program led the Kentucky General Assembly, in the 2024 session, to include an additional $70 million for the upcoming biennium, and extend the program for another two years. Also in this legislative session, HB13 was introduced, which will amend the original legislation to allow ranking of the counties by population and correlate their required match relative to the population data. Both again were approved unanimously and signed by the Governor.

Alongside the funds allocated by legislation, this initiative is supported by key sponsors including KY Power, Big Rivers, KU & LG&E, TVA, Duke Energy, KY Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, Atmos Energy, and Louisville Water. Norfolk Southern and CSX Transportation have joined the sponsorship team for the 2024-25 rounds of funding. These partners play a crucial role in promoting regional development strategies and have demonstrated their commitment to advancing ongoing development across the Commonwealth by investing in this initiative.

This program allows local governments and economic development organizations to seek much needed funding assistance for transformative site and infrastructure improvement projects that will generate greater economic development opportunities and job creation for Kentucky residents; increased income for workers and tax revenue for local and state governments; and growth in public goods and services provided to their citizens, such as healthcare, education and public protection.

We celebrate the legislators and the Governor for their ability to recognize the importance of growth to our communities and their willingness to invest in this incredible opportunity to strengthen Kentucky’s economy from Pikeville to Paducah, underscoring their commitment to make Team Kentucky the winning team.

Terri Bradshaw is the President/CEO of the Kentucky Association for Economic Development, a membership-based organization focused on promoting economic development growth in Kentucky.

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