Frankfort, KY. – Dozens of Kentucky communities will be better positioned to attract jobs and business investment following the first round of the Kentucky Product Development Initiative – or PDI – a new program implementing a proactive approach to enhance the state’s site-and-building inventory.
Through PDI’s objective, third-party process, Dallas-based Site Selection Group (SSG) recommended nine communities receive a total $2.95 million in grant funds to upgrade industrial and office sites and buildings. Communities must match any state grants dollar-for-dollar, thereby allowing PDI to leverage a total of nearly $6 million to upgrade Kentucky’s inventory of sites and buildings. As well, 36 communities statewide will receive professional development consultations from SSG to identify next steps in improving local sites and buildings.
“As the corporate support center for economic development statewide, we’re pleased to receive these recommendations from Site Selection Group. We’re also incredibly encouraged to see so much interest and involvement in this first round from local economic developers across Kentucky,” said Vivek Sarin, interim secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development, a partner in PDI. “Kentucky’s record-breaking economic development success over the past four years claimed many of the state’s tier-one sites and buildings. Through this first round of PDI, communities will have additional resources and guidance to upgrade their available properties and attract new business projects.”
The Cabinet partnered with the Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) on the new initiative. Matt Tackett, KAED president and CEO, said the technical analysis SSG provided is – and will continue – assisting participating communities with valuable and applicable insight.
“KAED is thrilled with the collaborative, statewide effort necessary to deploy this initiative,” Tackett said. “While we celebrate the dissemination of matched capital into the market for job-creating activities, we recognize the long-term programmatic value of PDI exceeds that of the grant awards. This initiative is very much an educational program, as every participatory community throughout Kentucky will receive a thorough workforce and site analysis per metrics site selection consultants evaluate daily on behalf of corporate clients. This feedback will inform and strengthen future PDI applications, but more importantly is a tool economic developers will use in their daily practice, which no doubt enhances professional capacity to amplify our globally competitive positioning.”
As a third-party, out-of-state site selection firm, SSG ensured objectivity in the PDI process as it evaluated the 45 grant applications submitted by Kentucky communities, which totaled 47 sites and buildings.
Josh Bays, a partner in SSG, said he and his fellow SSG leaders were thrilled with the number and quality of applications received, as well as the diversity of rural and urban locations statewide.
Grant funding is not the end goal. The end goal is that communities use the insight and resources from the PDI process to ultimately land job-creating projects on their sites,“Grant funding is not the end goal. The end goal is that communities use the insight and resources from the PDI process to ultimately land job-creating projects on their sites,” Bays said. “A major advantage the Kentucky PDI program offers communities is the ability to build upon their economic development knowledge and improve year-over-year.”
Bays and his colleagues at SSG are in the process of scheduling consultation debriefs with each of the 36 communities that did not receive recommendations for funding.
Josh Tubbs, president of Kentucky Lake Economic Development in Benton, said that though his community will not receive first-round funding, he is confident Marshall County will be better prepared for future growth based on SSG’s feedback.
“PDI is an initiative that Kentucky communities have needed for a very long time. Although very competitive, it is a testament to the need for product development initiatives throughout the commonwealth,” Tubbs said. “I applaud the professionalism of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, the Kentucky Association for Economic Development and Site Selection Group throughout this initial cycle. Our community found value in the feedback from SSG and will certainly be back in the next round.”
Plans are for PDI to accept applications for a second round next spring, with potential for additional rounds in the future. Communities that did not receive funding in the initial phase will have the opportunity to apply insight gained through consultations and re-apply for future rounds of PDI.
The nine submissions SSG recommended for grant-funded enhancements are:
Commerce Park – Christian County
Crossroads property – Marion County
T.J. Patterson Industrial Park – Hardin County
425 Bypass property – Henderson County
Southern Campbell Industrial Park – Campbell County
3000 Bill Robertson Way property – Madison County
RiverPort Phase V – Jefferson County
UK Coldstream Research Campus – Fayette County
Southeast Kentucky Regional Industrial Park – Knox County
For the next step in the PDI process, each of the nine communities will be required to bring its project to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) for funding consideration by the board in the coming months.