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Commentary on life in Kentucky

By wmadministrator

Recognizing the increasingly important role of energy in Kentucky, four colleges and university have joined forces in an innovative partnership between the public and private institutions to stimulate the efforts of government, business and education leaders in creating a far-reaching and collaborative statewide energy policy.

Entitled Energizing Kentucky, the effort is the brainchild of Berea College President Larry D. Shinn, Centre College President John A. Roush, University of Kentucky President Lee. T. Todd Jr. and University of Louisville President James Ramsey. It encourages Kentucky to focus on a coherent and integrated energy policy and will assist this policy formation by bringing together state and national energy experts to discuss the economic, educational and environmental opportunities and challenges presented by the world’s current energy situation.

Last month, the four presidents announced the Energizing Kentucky series of three conferences. The conferences in the series will address a number of related challenges in education, business and economic development and the environment.

Berea President Shinn said, “Energy policy in the commonwealth and the United States is currently uncoordinated and too often the result of ‘quick-fix’ reactions to external circumstances like the price or availability of oil. We four presidents agree that history rewards those who anticipate significant challenges and address them thoughtfully. Therefore, we invite the commonwealth’s business, political and educational communities to a series of conferences where all perspectives of energy production, use and conservation are welcome and where these dynamic political, economical and environmental considerations can focus our human capacity to thrive.”

Centre President Roush said, “The public and private institutions in most states are strangers who live in different universes. I am really pleased that our four Kentucky institutions have found it so easy to work together for the long-term good of the commonwealth. It will likewise take collaboration and cooperation among the businesses, public policy leaders and educators of our state to develop a powerful and effective energy policy that will serve all Kentuckians.”

UofL President Ramsey said, “Our institutions are working together to promote straight talk about energy, an issue that will continue to grow in importance to the Commonwealth and the nation. By bringing together great minds from different vantage points, we can initiate conversations and eventually develop concrete solutions and policies that will improve our citizens’ quality of life for many years to come.”

“Energy is one of the top public policy issues facing the nation today,” UK President Todd said. “Fortunately for Kentuckians, the commonwealth and the University of Kentucky’s experience as one of the nation’s energy leaders places the state in a unique position to lead a national energy discussion. I hope this Energizing Kentucky series will help the state to develop a long-term, sustainable energy strategy that will create new jobs for Kentuckians and increase the state’s competitiveness in math and science fields.”

The first Energizing Kentucky conference will be June 3-4 at the recently renovated Henry Clay Building in Louisville and will feature keynote remarks by Sandra Meyer, president of the Kentucky and Ohio units of Duke Power, one of the nation’s largest and most innovative energy companies. In addition, the three lead-off speakers include Paul Thomson, senior vice president of energy services, with E.ON U.S.; Pearse Lyons, CEO of Alltech; and James Cantrell, manager of Marathon Petroleum Co.’s Catlettsburg Refining Division. This conference’s focus will be on the role of Kentucky’s business community in advancing sound policies governing the production, use and conservation of energy and on finding ways to have economic and educational interests help form effective public policy.

The second conference is set for Sept. 18-19 and will provide a forum for energy experts to engage with state and local government policymakers to lay the groundwork for a sustainable energy policy for the 21st century. This conference’s keynote remarks will be delivered by Thomas L. Friedman, author of “The World Is Flat” and a multiple Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter and columnist for The New York Times. Friedman’s next book, “Green Is the New Red, White and Blue,” which tackles the subject of energy, will be published in August with an initial printing of one million hardback copies.

The final conference will focus on Kentucky’s K-12 and postsecondary education in establishing a framework for a curriculum to build a knowledge base revolving around sustainability and the development of alternative energy sources. This conference, in part, will emphasize developing the next generation of science, technology, engineering and math professionals essential to pursuing new knowledge and technologies.

Business, political and educational leaders will be invited to each of the three conferences. Information about the Energizing Kentucky conference series is available online at www.energizingkentucky.org.

Pre-Derby Festivities in Louisville

Woodford Reserve Bourbon hosted a private reception for renowned artist LeRoy Neiman at the showroom of Cobalt Artworks in Louisville.  Neiman is the official artist for the 2008 Kentucky Ryder Cup and the Alltech 2010 FEI World Equestrian Games – Kentucky.

Student Business Plan Contest Awards Nearly $100,000 in Prizes

Cabinet for Economic Development officials last month awarded nearly $100,000 in prize money to state university students who conceived or developed plans for 15 new Kentucky companies. Culminating months of work, the awards came after an intense two-day student competition called “Idea State U,” held at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville.

The competition is designed to help identify and support the next generation of Kentucky innovators and entrepreneurs. Prizes were weighted to more fully developed entries. A goal is to create real companies that provide real jobs in Kentucky.

“This is where creative new ideas become next-generation businesses. One day the commonwealth will see these entrepreneurs and their ideas creating hundreds – maybe thousands – of new jobs for Kentuckians,” said John Hindman, secretary of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development.  “These awards will help support the students as they work to turn their business dream into a real-world company.”

Students representing the University of Kentucky, Western Kentucky University, Kentucky State University, Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Louisville participated.  Schools are enhancing business programs or adding entrepreneurship courses to help students compete at future Idea State U events.

The top cash award – $44,660.09 – went to the Partum Group, a UofL graduate student team, for a plan to market an innovative medical device.
Other winners included:

• $21,710.53 for a plan to develop Healthy Kids Fitness and Wellness, a child-friendly health center to combat child obesity, created by a UK graduate student team

• $8,684.21 for a plan to develop Green Amy’s, an establishment offering fast food made with organic ingredients, created by a UofL undergraduate team
•  $6,132.68 to develop The Odyssey, an interactive movie-video game concept created by a UK grad student team

•  $5,427.63 for a plan to develop UK Bar and Grill, a UK-themed restaurant, created by an undergrad team at, you guessed it, UK

• $3,504.39 to develop Springboard Wellness, a Web-based product for stress intervention, created by a UofL grad student team;

•  $2,628.29 to develop Thorough Biz, a Web portal to enhance the equine industry, created  by a UofL undergrad team

• $1,752.19 to develop Ability Robotics, offering a remote-controlled robot to perform tasks for the disabled.  It is by an undergrad team from Western. Ability Robotics also won the Governor’s Innovation Award for the team judged best at innovative thinking, having a “wow” factor, and the best potential to improve the quality of life for Kentuckians and others.

The 2006 Kentucky General Assembly funded Idea State U to encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship to help sustain Kentucky’s future economy in the global marketplace. You could say that was an innovative business plan.