The special guest at the February RCIDA Board of Directors meeting was the Commissioner of the Department for Business Development with the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Jeff Taylor. Commissioner Taylor assumed the position only very recently and Russell County was his first community visit in that capacity.
As an introduction to Russell County, the board presented the recently produced Make It Here video promoting the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex and the advantages to living and doing business in the region.
"Based on what I’ve seen on your video, you guys are far ahead of many small communities," said Taylor. "I’m going to compliment you all on what you’ve done on product development, and speed to market, you’re way ahead of the curve. Those are things you’ve got to do and they have to happen quickly."
Taylor has a Bachelor's degree in Communications, a Master's degree in Community Counseling, and certifications in Basic Economic Development. He has had a long career in economic development. As a project manager in economic development and industrial recruitment for the TVA, as an elected Representative in state government, a local community economic development executive, and working as a private economic development consultant.
Taylor shared brief comments on his new position and the new administrations' commitment to economic development in the state. "We do want to set a new standard, we want to be more visible, we want to do more partnerships. We’ve got hard measures we’re going to meet." He also discussed the changing atmosphere and fast-paced competitive nature of site selection. "I’m glad to be here. We do want to set a new standard, we want to be more visible, we want to do more partnerships. Site visits, community visits, lead generations, we’re going to start getting out to trade shows, and we just want to be better community partners."
Beka Burton, Project Manager at Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development also attended the meeting and was given a tour of the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex afterward. Burton is Russell County's main contact point with the Cabinet. "She’s one of our most talented and by far one of our hardest working project managers. You are very fortunate to have her. She is your go-to girl and I promise you she will deliver," Taylor said of Burton.
RCIDA Executive Director Bennie Garland shared with the Commissioner the Board's concept for a Soft Landing Center with a request for the Cabinet to consider support and partnership in the effort. The goal is to develop temporary office, meeting and logistical space for foreign and domestic companies scouting our region. The RCIDA has fielded requests for just such temporary facilities in recent years from visiting industry site selectors.
Garland also shared plans for the development of an agribusiness training facility at the Lake Cumberland Regional Industrial Complex. "Our Industrial Development Authority has committed 11 acres with the industrial park to donate that land, and we’ve got applications that are in the process to build an agribusiness training facility which will teach veterans sciences, food safety, hydroponics and those types of skills for our region as well."
Other news brought to the board's attention included Russell County is one of a handful of counties in consideration for a solar electric generation facility.