linkedin-icon-grey-36 facebook-icon-grey-36 youtube-icon-grey-36

Russell County Native Rodney Hitch Named One of Top Economic Developers in North America

Plaque presentation to East Kentucky Power


Rodney Hitch (left) received a plaque of appreciation from RCIDA Executive Director Bennie Garland.

Rodney Hitch, a Russell County, Kentucky native, was recently named as one of the top 50 economic developers in North America, according to a leading economic development consulting firm. The Russell County Industrial Development Authority recognized Hitch for this outstanding honor at their August board meeting.

Hitch works to bring new and expanding businesses to rural Kentucky on behalf of Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Hitch serves as Economic Development Director for East Kentucky Power Cooperative.

“Each year we ask our robust site selector community and economic development partners to nominate individuals that they feel are top-notch and worthy of the title ‘Top 50 Economic Developers,’” said Consultant Connect — an international trade group for economic developers — in announcing the honor. “We are so glad to have the opportunity to collaborate, learn from and lift up these individuals.”

"We wanted to recognize Rodney for being named a top economic developer in North America, and express our deep gratitude to East Kentucky Power for their partnership to enhance our industrial recruitment efforts," said Bennie Garland, RCIDA Executive Director. "Their provision of 'Powermap', 'Powervision' and 'StateBook' resources has enabled Russell County to be recognized and competitive on an international level." These cutting-edge technologies — including data from aerial drone flights, online videos, and mobile mapping — helps market rural Kentucky communities globally.

PRIDE Working to Rebrand Southern and Eastern Kentucky

Natural beauty and outdoor recreation are the top tourism assets of Southern and Eastern Kentucky, based on research recently completed through a regional branding initiative by PRIDE in partnership with the Foundation for Appalachian Kentucky through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Tammie Nazario, PRIDE President and Chief Executive Officer, presented research that has been developed as part of an overall tourism rebranding effort for Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

"Ms. Nazario conveyed to the board their endeavor to rebrand Eastern and Southern Kentucky as a tourist destination on a national level. We're very excited about that aspect of PRIDE's work because Lake Cumberland and Lake Cumberland State Resort Park are a focal point of tourism growth for our region. Tourism is the second largest economic development factor for the state of Kentucky," Garland said. "Her presentation was very well received."

“This research confirms that our natural resources are critical to the economy of Southern and Eastern Kentucky, which has been a core belief at PRIDE since we set out in 1997 to improve the region’s environment,” said Nazario.

“Clearly, being good stewards of these natural attractions is important, and PRIDE is committed to continuing to help the region’s communities do just that,” Nazario said. “Now, we also are working with communities to showcase these natural assets to tourists.”

“Ultimately, our goal is to grow our economy and enhance our quality of life,” Nazario explained. “The purpose of this current initiative is to develop a strategic branding direction for growing the economy through tourism in the 41-county region of Southern and Eastern Kentucky.”

August 2019  meeting of the RCIDA Board of Directors

Gene Royalty, Former RCIDA Director Leaves Lasting Legacy

Royalty Way street sign


It is with sadness we announce the passing of former RCIDA Executive Director Gene Royalty. Gene will be remembered for fostering remarkable growth and development in Russell County during his term. 

“Royalty Way,” the main drive at the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex in French Valley, is named in recognition of his achievements. 

He will be greatly missed by his friends and colleagues. “Gene was truly an inspiration to all who inspire to improve the lives of the communities they serve. He will be missed“ said current RCIDA Executive Director Bennie Garland. 

There will be a Memorial Service at H. E. Pruitt Memorial Chapel in Jamestown at 3 pm on Sunday, August 4th. Friends may visit Sunday from 1 pm to 3 pm at H. E. Pruitt Memorial Chapel.

The following is a bio from his 2014 induction into the Kentucky Association for Economic Development Hall of Fame:

Gene Royalty was born in 1930 in Harrodsburg, Kentucky. His parents, Hollie G. and Emma Sallee Royalty, were well known and devoted citizens in the community.

Gene initially planned to follow in the footsteps of his father – a small business owner with investments in tobacco warehouse and a grocery store.

At age 21, he started his first enterprise, G & H Furniture Showrooms. “G” was for Gene and his older brother James Huntley, was the “H”.

As the business grew and thrived, Gene became more and more involved in other community activities, serving on the boards of two local banks and chairing a committee to restore nearby Shaker Village.

Soon, this smart, rising young business leader turned his attention to the larger picture of jobs and economic growth in his home county. A conversation with then lieutenant governor Wilson Wyatt was a turning point. Jobs required companies and companies required industrial parks, he soon discovered. “I just got involved and have been doing so ever since,” he says.

Gene organized Mercer County’s first industrial authority and was its chairman from 1961 to 1988, a period that saw the arrival of such companies as Hitachi, which remains an expanding and crucial part of the county’s economic success.

His devoted but voluntary efforts on the part of his community did not go unnoticed outside of Mercer County. Governor Wallace Wilkinson tapped him as the administrations Secretary for the Cabinet for Economic Development.

Though reluctant at first, telling Gov. Wilkinson “he wasn’t looking for a state job that what he really wanted was to do something for the community.” But Gene discovered that Wilkinson was “a determined type individual.”

In 1988, Gene Royalty found himself traveling the world, and selling companies on the many attributes of the Bluegrass State, the way he had sold them on Mercer County.

When Wilkinson’s term ended, another state agency needed a marketing expert, and Gene stayed on in Frankfort to serve as the Executive Director of Markets in the Department of Agriculture.

With tobacco waining, it was a critical time for Kentucky, and through three administrations and three agriculture commissioners, Gene played a key role in helping Kentucky farms find new and innovative cash crops.

Gene retired from state government in 2002, but not from economic development. At nearly seventy years of age, Gene thought it time to return to Harrodsburg – not to retire mine you but to explore more work and more opportunities in his hometown.

To no one’s surprise, a county to the south wanted to snag one of the state’s most seasoned and effective advocates of business and industrial growth.

“We were having our annual Chamber of Commerce banquet and I invited some people from Frankfort to attend the meeting,” recalls Russell County Attorney, Don Byrom. “I gave Gene a call and said come a little early, I want to show you something.”

“I knew what they wanted,” Gene later said. “They wanted me to run their Economic Development office.”

Gene’s accomplishments as executive director of the Russell County Industrial Development Authority alone would merit his induction into the hall of fame, wrote Greg Jones, in the nomination form. Under his leadership, the county gained more than 550 new jobs over $87 million in new business investment – plus more than 200 new jobs in major expansions of established businesses. For a small community like Jamestown, these numbers are significant.

Gene Royalty has worked tirelessly for the advancement and economic success of his community and for the state of Kentucky his entire life. And it was always a labor of love.

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Representatives Visit Russell County

Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development Representatives Visit Russell County


Morgan Pierstorff, Executive Director, European Representative Office and Evelyn Simmler, Business Development & Research Manager, European Representative Office of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development met with members of the RCIDA on Wednesday to discuss opportunities and ideas to expose Russell County to more potential businesses in Europe. Both have experience and connections with the European business community, especially in Germany.  

Board members Tom Preston and Scott Pierce along with Executive Director Bennie Garland and members of the RCIDA marketing team shared the latest developments and advantages of Russell County while gaining valuable insights on marketing our region to overseas interests.

After viewing the RCIDA's marketing video, discussing the strengths and potential of Russell County, and touring the county's industrial sites, both Pierstoff and Simmler agreed that the county should be an attractive site, especially with currently holding the state's only Food and Beverage shovel-ready certification. The Cabinet for Economic Development is tasked with marketing all regions of Kentucky to industrial interests, but being able to highlight our local advantages face-to-face with these officials keeps Russell County top of mind. Community strengths like water capacity, gigabit Internet, available property and buildings, the technology college under construction, the low cost of living, the rural landscape, and Lake Cumberland make Russell County a desirable location.


Russell County's First Business and Industry Symposium Well Attended

Dave Delaney presenting at the Russell County Business and Industry Symposium


A wide variety of local business and industry representatives attended the county's first Business and Industry Symposium on May 14 at the Lake Cumberland State Resort Park in Russell County. Speakers representing the USDA, the Small Business Administration, The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, and many more shared valuable insights and information to our business community. Google representative Dave Delaney provided an introduction and tutorial of Google's My Business tool with emphasis on how to make the most of it for search engine success.

The symposium was sponsored by East Kentucky Power and South Kentucky RECC and presented by the Russell County Chamber of Commerce and the Russell County Industrial Development Authority.

Below are a few photographs from this landmark Russell County event.

RCIDA business industry symposium DSC5091 1200

RCIDA business industry symposium DSC5140 1200

Business & Industry Symposium to be Held May 14

Business & Industry Symposium


The Russell County Chamber of Commerce working in concert with the Russell County Industrial Development Authority is pleased to announce that on May 14, 2019, at 9:00 AM, CT at the Lake Cumberland State Resort Park, there will be a one-day “Business and Industry Symposium.” 

Representatives from many federal, state, and regional organizations will be on hand to reveal to Russell County businesses, industries, banking institutions, civic organizations, entrepreneurs and local governments the various programs they have to offer to enhance business startups, expansions, industrial growth, and marketing techniques. Attendees will have the opportunity to have a one-on-one dialog with our panelist of experts and to acquire a personal relationship to move forward with any future growth plans they may have. Our event will be sponsored by East Kentucky Power and South Kentucky RECC.  

This event will be a wonderful opportunity to learn first-hand that there is federal, state, and regional organizations willing to help grow and expand your interest in Russell County.

It’s FREE to attend and lunch will be provided. We kindly as you to please RSVP/register online at

Our keynote luncheon speaker will be Dave Delaney, author of New Business Networking and acclaimed keynote speaker on the topics of business networking, corporate communication, and social media marketing. His presentations are humorous, educational and engaging. Dave has provided keynote presentations for companies, conferences, and organizations like Google, LinkedIn, The UPS Store, American Marketing Association, SXSW Interactive, Hubspot Inbound Conference, HealthStream, HCA, and many more.

Eligible Small Businesses Should Apply Before Nov. 1 for Growth Incentives

Small Business Tax Credit


FRANKFORT, Ky. (Oct. 11, 2018) – Time is limited, but Kentucky small businesses can still claim a tax credit of up to $25,000 on their 2018 tax returns.

By submitting a complete application for the Kentucky Small Business Tax Credit program by Nov. 1, small businesses stand the best chance of receiving approval in time for their 2018 tax filings. Tax credits are available for companies that, in the past 24 months, added at least one new employee and invested $5,000 or more in qualifying equipment or technology.

The program, offered by the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, encourages growth among the state’s small businesses.

“Small businesses are a vital part of the Kentucky economy, and we want to encourage every business owner in the state to take advantage of this program to capitalize on their recent growth,” said Brian Mefford, executive director of the Cabinet’s KY Innovation office. “The Kentucky Small Business Tax Credit provides a great avenue to expand employment opportunities throughout the state while also helping Kentucky companies create an additional competitive advantage.”

Qualifying small businesses may be eligible to receive a state income tax credit ranging from $3,500 to $25,000 per year. The tax credit amount varies based upon the number of jobs created and the cost of equipment purchased.

The program is available to most for-profit businesses of 50 or fewer full-time employees, including companies in the construction, manufacturing, retail, service and wholesale industries.

Last year, the program incentivized the creation of 506 private-sector jobs and nearly $4.8 million in investments by 167 small businesses. On average, each participating company hired three people and received more than $10,000 in tax savings. Since inception, the program has assisted in creating over 1,800 jobs and $18.8 million in new investments.

To learn more about the Kentucky Small Business Tax Credit program or to apply, visit or contact the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development at 800-626-2930.

The program is among the many ways the Cabinet’s KY Innovation office encourages growth among Kentucky’s startups and small businesses. Other resources include programs that provide assistance for international trade and market development, access to credit, mentoring and advocacy. Entrepreneurs and startups also can connect with multiple resources at offices statewide. Learn more about KY Innovation here or by calling 800-626-2930.

Information on Kentucky’s economic development efforts and programs is available at Fans of the Cabinet for Economic Development can also join the discussion on Facebook at or follow on Twitter at Watch the Cabinet’s “This is My Kentucky” video on YouTube.

The Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development is the primary state agency responsible for encouraging new jobs and investment in the state. New capital investment announced in Kentucky in 2017 totaled a state record $9.2 billion, spurring more than 17,200 projected new jobs. Information on available industrial properties, workforce development assistance, incentive programs, community profiles, small business development and other economic development resources is available at

Ground is broken for the Lake Cumberland Regional College & Workforce Center

ground breaking

On Tuesday, August 28, the ground was broken for construction of the Lake Cumberland Regional College & Workforce Center in Russell County. In attendance for the celebration were current and past Russell County school officials, students, local government representatives, area business and civic leaders as well as special guests State Senator Max Wise, and Derrick Ramsey, Secretary of the Education Workforce Development Cabinet.

The center is being constructed on the grounds of Russell County High School but will be a resource for the entire region. The center is expected to serve 2,215 high school students and 620 adults in all five primary Kentucky Workforce Investment Board sectors — advanced manufacturing, healthcare, technology, construction trades, and transportation. 

Partnerships with Lindsey Wilson College, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Eastern Kentucky University and Western Kentucky University will allow the center to provide associate’s to bachelor’s (or A to B) programs, where students work toward an associate’s degree in high school and enroll in an institution of higher learning to complete a four-year degree. Certification programs will also be offered, and adults will have access to programs in the evening. 

The center will also continue to foster and develop apprenticeship programs with local industries, like one that currently exists with Dr. Schneider Automotive, that offer flexible performance-based credit by allowing students to spend time during the school day receiving on-the-job training.

The Russell County Industrial Development Authority joined forces with the school district early in the project, participating in community meetings and committing financial support.

Branscum Construction is building the facility designed by Sherman Carter Barnhart Architects.

Derrick Ramsey COX9826 1200

Derrick Ramsey, Secretary of the Education Workforce Development Cabinet addressed the gathering.

lcrcwc rendering 1200

Architects rendering of the Center.

max wise

State Senator Max Wise addressed the gathering.


sign with ground breaking

Derrick Ramsey

Jamestown Municipal Water Works recognized for outstanding water quality

Wolf Creek Dam on Lake Cumberland

Our Food and Beverage Shovel-Ready Certification was possible in large part because of our high capacity water and sewer infrastructure. Not only do we have a vast water supply from Lake Cumberland, we have among the highest quality water in the state. Congratulations to Jamestown Municipal Water Works for achieving this status, one of only 13 facilities in the state to receive gold seal recognition.

FRANKFORT, Ky. (July 17, 2018) – Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has recognized 42 surface water treatment plants in the Commonwealth for meeting the 2017 goals of Kentucky’s Area-Wide Optimization Program (AWOP).

AWOP is a multi-state initiative administered through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency which encourages drinking water systems to voluntarily achieve optimization goals that go beyond regulatory requirements. Kentucky is one of 26  participating states. All of Kentucky’s public water systems are encouraged to participate in AWOP in order to provide the highest quality water to residents.

AWOP provides tools and approaches for drinking water systems to meet water quality optimization goals and to provide an increased and sustainable level of public health protection to consumers. The program emphasizes the optimization of turbidity removal through the drinking water treatment process. Turbidity, or cloudiness, is a measurement of particles in water including soil, algae, bacteria, viruses and other substances. AWOP  also focuses on improving the operation of existing facilities rather than implementing costly capital improvements.

“Together, these 42 drinking water treatment plants serve more than 1.1 million Kentuckians,” said Joe Uliasz, supervisor of the Division of Water’s Drinking Water Compliance and Technical Assistance Section. “These drinking water treatment plant operators deserve our recognition and appreciation for their daily efforts to exceed the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act.”

Two Kentucky water treatment plants received an AWOP Champion Award. This award takes into account the high level of optimization achieved, as well as the system’s overall compliance record for the previous three years. Logan Todd Regional Water Commission was awarded the 2017 Champion Award for a large drinking water treatment plant (designed to produce three million or more gallons of water a day). Leitchfield Water Works received the 2017 Champion Award for a small drinking water treatment plant (designed to treat less than three million gallons of water a day).

Thirteen AWOP drinking water systems received special recognition, with a gold seal on their certificates, for achieving the AWOP goals 100 percent of the time in 2017. These include Barbourville Water and Electric, Bullock Pen Water District, Glasgow Water Company – Plant A, Greenup Water System, Jackson County Water Association, Jamestown Municipal Water Works, Kentucky American Water Co. – Plant B, Laurel County Water District No. 2, Lawrenceburg Water and Sewer Department, Liberty Water Works, Logan Todd Regional Water Commission, McCreary County Water District – Plant B, and Rattlesnake Ridge Water District.

For additional information about AWOP visit or contact Jackie Logsdon at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 270-824-7529

A Growth Environment

Russell County's residents enjoy top-quality services, a range of activities and a beautiful recreational lake.

Strong Work Ethic

Russell County's rural farming traditions provide a workforce that is loyal, trainable and dependable.

Available Sites

More than 150 acres of choice industrial sites are now available in Russell County.

Why Choose Russell?

A short distance from I-65 and I-75, Russell County provides local industries with quick access to their markets.