FRANKFORT, KY (March 13, 2014) — Gov. Steve Beshear and Kentucky business leaders urged support for quality early childhood care and education programs after they announced a report showing that investments in such programs provide a significant economic boost for businesses and help develop a skilled workforce.
The America’s Edge report shows investments in high-quality early care and education programs can generate immediate sales of local goods and services, attract workers, create jobs and aid in long-term economic security in Kentucky. ReadyNation/America’s Edge is a national organization of business leaders who support proven education investments that strengthen businesses and the economy.
“This report supports what we are doing in Kentucky to focus our time and resources on early childhood education. These efforts not only assist our communities but also begin preparing our future workforce at an early age,” Gov. Beshear said. “Kentucky has made enormous progress in creating a seamless, cradle-to-career education system that is better preparing students for a complex world. We must continue to partner with education, business, and state and local leaders to maintain our progress and to highlight the information in this and other studies.”
The news conference was hosted by the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. Stu Silberman, the Committee’s executive director, noted that specific findings of the report include:
• For every dollar invested in early care and education, an additional 64 cents are generated for a total of $1.64 in new spending in Kentucky;
• Inversely, cuts to programs hurt businesses by eliminating 64 cents in additional new spending for every dollar cut;
• The return outperforms investments in other sectors, including construction, transportation, retail and wholesale trade and manufacturing;
• In addition to the economic boost brought by the new spending, investments in early learning help build stronger communities over the long term.
Silberman praised Gov. Beshear’s leadership, saying the governor’s “commitment to quality early childhood programs has been evident in both word and deed since he took office.” He also called on the General Assembly to enact a 2014-16 state budget that includes the Governor’s proposed increases in funding for early childhood care and education programs.
Several business leaders joined the Governor in expressing strong support for such programs and noted the America’s Edge report’s findings of the impact of spending on Kentucky businesses.
“Funding for early learning programs benefits everything from restaurants to supermarkets to electric companies and automobile parts stores,” said Helen Carroll, manager/community relations for Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America, Inc., in Erlanger. “In fact, the report shows that such funding affects more than 400 economic categories in Kentucky.”
Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, noted the Chamber’s longstanding support for quality early childhood programs. “Kentucky businesses need employees who are job-ready when they finish high school or college, and the path to job-ready skills begins before a child enters kindergarten. Advancing Kentucky is what our Chamber focuses on, and that is why we are long-time supporters of investments in quality early care and education programs.”
Elizabeth McCoy, president and CEO of Planters Bank, Inc., in Hopkinsville, cited the employment levels noted in the report as well as the long-term impact of quality early programs. “The early learning sector in Kentucky employs more than 16,000 people, including administrators, teachers and child care workers,” said McCoy, who also chairs the Kentucky Chamber Board of Directors.
“Looking longer-term, we know that today’s 4-year-olds are the workforce of tomorrow. Every child who enters the workforce with the skills Kentucky businesses need will help our state and our communities stay competitive in an increasingly challenging global marketplace.”