Coming off the Ford Motor Company announcement of $5.8 billion investment, Gov. Andy Beshear has asked local leaders across the state to utilize sites that could bring in more developments to Kentucky.
Beshear’s request came last Wednesday in a conference call with mayors and other leaders from across the Commonwealth.
In Madisonville, Mayor Kevin Cotton said that the city has been working with the Madisonville — Hopkins County Economic Development Corporation on the availability that is in the city and the county.
“We are already on the state’s website with what we have to offer,” said Cotton. “Inside the city limits itself, there is not a large tract of land that would fit the parameters that the governor is looking for.
“The county does have some tracts that are not quite as large as what Beshear put out on his wishlist, but are big enough to handle some significant investments,” said Cotton.
Cotton said while the properties that are possible development sites in the city do not match Besehear’s parameters, that does not mean they are not in negotiations.
“We do have some open availability on properties that we have been negotiating with companies to entice them to come into the community,” Cotton said. “Our tracts are more in the 50-acre or 30-acre lots instead of 1,000-acres that the governor is asking for.”
The governor also said he plans to ask legislators to allocate dollars to a site development fund, which Madisonville-Hopkins County EDC President Ray Hagerman said is a chance to look at potentially larger sites that might be available under the right circumstances.
“In the past you would look at these kinds of things and wonder ‘what do we really have the capability of doing,’ ” said Hagerman. “Now we have a chance to say ‘what kind of infrastructure needs and what kind of infrastructure costs would be involved if we ask for money to bring that infrastructure’. That is what we are now enabled to do because of this.
“Every site that we have identified in the community over the past few years, we know exactly what the cost and time table is going to be,” he said. “Now that we know that the state may also offer funding to help pay for those infrastructures, we can approach the state to say that these are the needs, and we have already reached out and done that.”
Hagerman said he and other economic development organizations in Western Kentucky have also been in discussions to talk about how to build off of the Ford announcements.
“We’ve been in contact with one another to try and figure out what this electric vehicle announcement is, since we have one in Hardin County, Kentucky, and then one 50 miles outside of Memphis, what does this do for us?” Hagerman said. “What does this enable us to look at from a regional perspective as far as participating with that? We’re thinking in that direction as well, and I would love to see us uncover some sort of a major site.”
Hagerman said there is a 72-acre site that the EDC owns that they have been trying to determine what to do with eventually.
“We actually have a couple of deals at the state that have approached us about that site,” he said. “I don’t think it relates to electric vehicles, but it is definitely in play and we have made the short list for a couple of deals that the state is looking at for that site already. That is not to say that we couldn’t find ourselves, maybe a 200 acre site, and find out what the cost would be to put infrastructure in, and maybe that is something we could acquire and approach the state about infrastructure funding for that.”
Beshear asked mayors Wednesday to contact the Department for Local Government with their thoughts on potential sites and to list infrastructure needs.