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Economic Development: Continued Upward Trajectory

By wmadministrator

Kentucky’s economic development community is very optimistic that 2022 will see a continuation of the strong growth experienced in 2021. More than $11 billion in projects were announced, impacting all regions of the state but especially the central swath that includes I-65 and I-75, where vehicle manufacturing and the many significant metals industry operations that support it continue to build momentum. The commonwealth is on the front end of the national shift toward more efficient and sustainable industry and manufacturing.

“As the nation recovers from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the top issue facing many regional businesses is finding and retaining a qualified and skilled workforce. It was an issue prior to the pandemic, but now the lack of workers is preventing many companies from operating at full capacity. Although there have been a lot of people leaving the workforce over the last year, business formations across the nation and Kentucky reached record highs in late 2020 and have remained high. An issue that will impact the local economy for 2022 and beyond is the lack of available land in Fayette County, resulting in rapidly rising housing costs, job and talent flight to surrounding counties, and an increase in gentrification and inequity in our neighborhoods. Lexington continues to be a popular place to live and work, and its nearly completed convention center renovation will increase its ability to host all types of events and enhance Central Kentucky as a destination region.”

Bob Quick President/CEO, Commerce Lexington Inc.

“What an exciting time in Kentucky! As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen many record-breaking investments in our state in recent months and are primed for more growth. At the Kentucky Chamber we are proud of these accomplishments and are looking forward to an even brighter economic future. To achieve these goals, we will be working toward implementing pro-growth policies such as tax reform and solutions to grow our workforce. The business community is excited to work with the governor and the legislature to continue making the commonwealth the best place to live, work and call home.”

Ashli Watts President/CEO, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce

“The economy will continue its upward trajectory in 2022 with growth led by the private sector in key areas. Once supply issues are resolved, demand for housing, automotive, consumer packaged goods and other products will accelerate. Workforce issues will remain a concern, with demand for innovative approaches and hybrid solutions. The OneNKY community will address economic opportunity through an approach open to business, efficiencies and impact, resulting in higher standards of health, education and growth. The importance of continued transformation in 2022 will drive our community and the commonwealth to new heights.”

Karen Finan President/CEO, OneNKY Alliance

“Team Kentucky, in working to increase jobs, wages and investment by private-sector companies, sees continued strong economic performance in Kentucky next year. Team Kentucky and its partners are working to attract companies in the advanced battery supply chain, following the BlueOvalSK announcement in September that Ford and SK Innovation will build the nation’s largest electric-vehicle battery plants in Kentucky. In addition, state government is working to capture significant interest in the state from other target industries. Those include metals; food, beverage and agritech; health care; logistics and distribution; and manufacturing. Much of the current and projected growth in these industries is demand-driven, and Kentucky continues to make a strong case as a top national location for investment due to its ideal geographic location, low-cost industrial power, high quality of life and low cost of living.”

-Andy Beshear Governor, Commonwealth of Kentucky

“GLI is optimistic that the tremendous positive momentum from large economic development investments like the Ford SK Battery Plant announcement, as well as pent-up consumer demand and increased job security, will carry over to 2022 and have a major impact on our economy through increased spending and travel and the return of large-scale events. In 2021, new and existing businesses in our region announced nearly $7 billion of new investment and the creation of over 9,000 new jobs. As global supply chain shortages are resolved, our signature industries will be able to maximize operations and keep up with demand. We anticipate workforce shortages will still impact businesses to some degree in 2022. GLI will continue to advocate for solutions to underlying causes, like accessible child care, to get people back to work and businesses fully staffed.”

Sarah Davasher-Wisdom President/CEO, Greater Louisville Inc.

“We’re very optimistic for a strong economy in Kentucky and Northern Kentucky in 2022. Our region and state drove an enormous amount of economic success and activity in 2021. We expect that trend to continue based on our project activity. We’ve learned that a year is a long time in a pandemic and it’s important to be agile: plan for the long-term while being poised to pivot if necessary. Strong interest in urban office space in Newport and Covington continues and with the Newport on the Levee renovation and new Ovation office space coming online, we expect it to be a strong sector in 2022. Corporex’s investment in new amenities in CirclePort also provides opportunities for a regional or U.S. headquarters. We have seen strong interest in Northern Kentucky from electric vehicle-related manufacturers and proximity to the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) is a tremendous asset. Office, technology and manufacturing led NKY’s growth in 2021 and we expect that to continue in 2022.”

Lee Crume President/CEO, Northern Kentucky Tri-ED

“At SPEDA, we are poised to continue to see record-breaking economic and community growth. Over the past two years, Somerset and Pulaski County have seen announcements of record-breaking investments of over $300 million and over 1,000 new jobs to be created.  As the Capital of Lake Cumberland, we are seeing unprecedented collaboration, multimillion-dollar expansions, new business openings, groundbreakings and a renaissance within our downtown, which is the heartbeat of our community. Without question, the most pressing issue facing our community, state and nation is the workforce.  As a society, we must reestablish the values of hard work, increase awareness of training and good job opportunities, decrease dependency on government support, and work together to address this very important issue.”

Chris Girdler President/CEO, Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority

“Kentucky has emerged from the pandemic with record-breaking momentum that is equaled by ongoing opportunity. In 2022, we’ll see aggressive global movement of projects aligned with Kentucky’s target and emerging markets. We’ll see growth of existing industry that leverages the commonwealth’s intrinsic and manufactured advantages. It is imperative communities continue to prepare the people, products (sites and buildings) and programs necessary to offer risk-free site-selection experiences. Speed-to-market is key in 2022, and we’ll see more ribbons cut and ground broken in communities that have strategically prepared. KAED is positioned to assist communities with business retention/expansion resources, intelligence tools for all jurisdictions, product development programs, and as a corporate recruitment partner. Internally, KAED has invested significantly in a new data-driven public policy strategy designed to further accelerate Kentucky’s global competitiveness and economic development.”

Matt Tackett President/CEO, Kentucky Asociation for Economic Development