By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Making Kentucky more competitive and creating a higher quality of life for its residents is the focus of a report released April 11 by the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
4 Pillars 4 Prosperity: Making Kentucky More Competitive is centered around four pillars that frame a vision for a more prosperous Kentucky and reflect key goals to ensure progress for the commonwealth:
A Healthy, Educated and Skilled Workforce. We must create a globally competitive talent development system that produces a healthy, educated and skilled workforce, benchmarked against the best education and workforce preparation systems in the world.
Quality, Knowledge-Based Jobs. We must enhance Kentucky’s competitive business environment and implement economic development initiatives that recognize the potential of Kentucky’s distinct regions and industry sectors while encouraging knowledge-based entrepreneurship and innovation.
21st Century Infrastructure. We must create and maintain a modern infrastructure to capitalize on the state’s strategic advantages, including low-cost energy and central location.
Effective and Efficient Government. We must create and sustain an effective and efficient system of state and local governments that are financially stable, invest in education to improve prospects for the future and, together, create a competitive environment for economic growth.
With the 2019 governor’s race underway, the Kentucky Chamber released the report to raise awareness among gubernatorial candidates and policy leaders on where the business community stands on key issues across Kentucky.
“Clearly, there is work to be done by both government officials and business leaders to address these challenges,” said Kentucky Chamber President and CEO Dave Adkisson. “The Kentucky Chamber hopes that the 4 Pillars 4 Prosperity strategic plan will help the candidates for governor and other policy-makers focus on the biggest issues facing the state during the 2019 gubernatorial campaign. It is our plan to report on where the gubernatorial candidates stand on these issues, so the public can make informed decisions.”
Since the Kentucky Chamber released its original 4 Pillars report in 2015, there have been developments that alter the landscape for efforts to make Kentucky more prosperous.
The report shows that businesses have grown increasingly optimistic about the state’s future. According to a poll conducted for the 4 Pillars project in 2015, 51 percent of business leaders said Kentucky was on the wrong track while 49 percent chose the “right track” response. In 2018, the same question found 63 percent of responses concluding Kentucky was on the right track while 37 percent chose the “wrong track” response.
The Kentucky Chamber report illustrates Kentucky’s economy has gained strength since the recession, but the recovery remains mixed in different regions of the state. To that point, the report points to growth-friendly legislation such as right to work that has been enacted to spur job creation. It also mentions Kentucky’s declining unemployment rate.
In addition to highlighting the important and positive changes happening in Kentucky, the report shares the business community’s concerns on issues including workforce and education, the state’s financial crisis, and the need for additional resources for Kentucky to achieve its goals.
The report’s call to action is that Kentucky must be bold in addressing its weaknesses and building on its strengths to improve its competitive position and ensure success.