OP-ED: Brent Cooper says KY Speedway key to keeping region’s talent, attraction and retention efforts on track

Brent Cooper

SPARTA, Ky. — I’m a lifelong Kentuckian that’s been all over the state. I’ve been to Mammoth Cave and Carter Caves. Cave Run Lake and Lake Cumberland. The Louisville Slugger Museum and the Newport Aquarium. But in all my travels I’ve never seen anything like NASCAR racing at the Kentucky Speedway.

Last year the NKY Chamber of Commerce recognized Mark Simendinger and the Kentucky Speedway with the Northern Kentucky Community Award. As part of the pre-race activities, we were given a tour of the Speedway site. It was beyond impressive and a great reminder that if it goes fast and, in a circle, we do it well in Kentucky!

If you haven’t been to a Kentucky Speedway race, you’re missing out on one of the Commonwealth’s premier offerings. And it’s in our backyard.

First, the scope of the Kentucky Speedway is huge. The track campgrounds, multiple garages, accommodations and parking for 100,000 people, and that doesn’t even include all the drivers, teams, reporters, staff and security. On race day they employ more than 3,000 people!

Second, it brings national attention to our state. News outlets from every corner of the United States were there. I spoke with reporters from California, Florida, and New York. They all agreed that the Kentucky Speedway provides a unique opportunity to put the spotlight on our region and our state.

The Kentucky Speedway proudly puts “Kentucky” right on the track. Their mascot is a horse, and they regularly tout that the winners have #horsepower. Few things market our state to a national and international audience like the Kentucky Speedway.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, the Kentucky Speedway is a unique offering that attracts the top professionals in the sport. Other than the Kentucky Derby, there isn’t another professional sport in Kentucky that brings in experts competing at the highest level.

As the president of the NKY Chamber, I’ve seen how the Kentucky Speedway impacts our tourism efforts and overall economy. The impact is profound. When visitors come to our state, one of every five dollars is spent in Northern Kentucky. NKY represents 20 percent of the state of Kentucky’s tourism. One of the reasons for that is the Kentucky Speedway.

The benefit of bringing people to our state is that they can witness, firsthand, our high quality of life and low cost of living.

Tourism is a critical component to our talent attraction and retention efforts. When businesses are looking to locate here, this is one more piece to the puzzle. When families are considering moving here, this is another entertainment offering that adds to their overall quality of life.

As racing days approach, this coming July 11-13th, this seems like a good time to remind ourselves of the impact the Kentucky Speedway has on our state. We shouldn’t take it for granted. It is a major amenity, just down the road that keeps our tourism, and talent attraction and retention efforts on the right track.

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