FRANKFORT, Ky. – The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, in partnership with the Kentucky Association for Economic Development, has initiated an effort to create more ideal sites that allow companies to locate in Kentucky and begin construction immediately.
Kentucky’s new Product Development Initiative (PDI) is an investment program through which up to $6 million may be available to Kentucky economic development organizations and local governments via grant awards to supplement their site or building improvement projects. Additional funding may be available in the future, depending on the availability of state funds.
PDI will supplement local investment to address a shortage of top-quality locations in the commonwealth. Grants may be awarded for utility infrastructure upgrades, property acquisition, facility enhancement or the diligence necessary to prepare sites and buildings for investment.
One of the seven goals outlined in SOAR’s Regional Blueprint for a 21st Century Appalachia is industrial recruitment.
“This is an important step in making sure that communities have access to funds to make their sites more appealing to potential investments,” said Jared Arnett, executive director of SOAR. “This program demonstrates a deep collaboration between the Cabinet for Economic Development, KAED, and those working on the frontlines of economic development across the state.”
The initiative will enhance quantity and quality of Kentucky’s available sites and buildings, address lack of capital in a market and will encourage collaboration among Kentucky economic developers and stakeholders in an effort to help new and expanding businesses find a suitable location more quickly.
“As Kentucky’s record-breaking economic momentum accelerates, the commonwealth must continually develop A+ inventory to best leverage our advantages in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. The Product Development Initiative will perpetuate a timely, risk free experience for companies locating or expanding in Kentucky,” said KAED President and CEO Matt Tackett.
The growing need for companies to make fast location selection decisions means we must be prepared to address immediate needs at both the state and local level. Through PDI, state economic development agencies are better able to supplement a local community’s investment and accelerate the development process. Communities that present an aggressive plan to develop and attract new business have the best opportunity to benefit from PDI.
The KAED Foundation will facilitate the identification of potential sites and buildings within the initiative, with full assessments and recommendations provided by a third-party consultant. Grant funds may be provided by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development for recommended projects.
“The Product Development Initiative is a perfect opportunity for the state to work closely with local officials and economic development leaders to find sites and buildings that are ready to make the leap to the next level,” said Erran Persley, commissioner of business development at the Cabinet for Economic Development. “This program is about identifying locations that just need a slight push to reach their full potential as the type of A+ locations for which companies consistently search.”
“More than ever, we are hearing from company executives that time is of the essence from a competitive standpoint,” said Vivek Sarin, executive officer and co-leader of the Cabinet for Economic Development. “Once the decision is made to relocate or add a new location, companies need to move quickly to begin production as soon as possible. If those decision makers know Kentucky has the ability to step up and present a variety of A+ locations that are ready to go and can be operational within weeks or months, as opposed to years, it could make all the difference in whether a business locates in our state or looks elsewhere.”
Projects seeking assistance of up to $500,000 may be considered for an award via a competitive application process and scored according to marketability. Dallas-based Site Selection Group has been identified to perform the assessments for the Product Development Initiative.
“Kentucky’s Product Development Initiative is further proof that the commonwealth takes economic development very seriously,” said Josh Bays, Partner at Site Selection Group. “We have full confidence that this program will elevate Kentucky’s competitiveness for corporate investment. We are honored to assist in this exciting effort.”
Funding for the procurement of consultant services was provided by a coalition of KAED members, anchored by Kentucky’s utility companies.
Communities not selected for awards will receive an analytical report provided by Site Selection Group and will receive feedback on how to better prepare for future funding opportunities.
“This initiative, while designed to enhance Kentucky’s product, is also an educational program. Communities not awarded funds will receive their evaluation on the metrics site selection consultants consider every day when locating projects. PDI feedback will provide a roadmap to inform applications for future grant rounds, and more importantly will serve as a tool to enhance competitive positioning for economic development,” said Matt Tackett.
Site Selection Group Partner Josh Bays and Vice President Beth Land will be on-site at the KAED Collaboration Conference on May 20-21 in Somerset to discuss the Product Development Initiative and community application process. For more information, visit www.KAEDonline.org.