Gov. Andy Beshear made multiple stops in Daviess County on Thursday. He presented more than $6.8 million in funding to support tourism, economic development, and more before speaking at the Daviess County Democratic Party headquarters as well as the “Wendell H. Ford Celebration of Community” event.
Beshear first joined local officials at the Daviess County Courthouse to present nearly $7 million in total funding to various organizations.
“Our people are always our best investment. Kentuckians deserve every opportunity and resource imaginable right in their hometowns – and we’re working to make sure that’s the reality,” Beshear said. “Today’s awards will attract new businesses and jobs here, drive tourism to this amazing region, and improve the lives of families across the county.”
Beshear presented more than $5.5 million to the Daviess County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau to support travel marketing and promotion and attract meetings and conventions. That money is coming from ARPA funds, and the allocation was first announced in January 2023.
“During the pandemic, Owensboro and Daviess County took a hard hit economically. Visit Owensboro proactively collaborated with the Kentucky Travel Industry Association, state legislators, and Gov. Beshear in crafting legislation for recovery funds,” said Mark Calitri, president of the Owensboro/Daviess County Convention and Visitors Bureau. “With this funding, Visit Owensboro will now have the resources to create a transformative change for our community. We are already seeing strong results from attracting new conventions and events, and the future looks bright.”
Additionally, as part of the Kentucky Product Development Initiative funding announced last month, Beshear presented $211,750 to the City of Owensboro to support a project that will complete due diligence studies on the 184-acre Massie property, the planned new industrial development site that officials hope will bring in new jobs and economic growth to Daviess County.
The Governor presented three awards to Daviess County from the Energy and Environment Cabinet: $28,000 to help residents safely dispose of household hazardous waste, $35,150 to support the county’s recycling efforts, and $330,700 to support the county’s composting efforts.
“These grant awards will support our composting operation at the landfill with the addition of a front-end bucket loader,” said Daviess County Judge-Executive Charlie Castlen. “Additionally, the Fiscal Court will add three new roll-off containers at the Grimes Avenue Transfer Station in Owensboro.”
The Governor also presented the Green River Area Development District with $500,000 from the Energy and Environment Cabinet for brownfield cleanup, as well as $212,430 in cybersecurity funding from the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security to hire a consultant to work with IT staff.
Beshear then made a pair of campaign stops and gave similar speeches at each location, touching on the highlights of his platform and issues he’s focused on. He first spoke to nearly 100 people who packed into the Daviess County Democratic Party’s field office at 1102 Triplett Street.
His second campaign stop was as the featured speaker at the Wendell H. Ford Celebration of Community, an event hosted by the Daviess County Democrats. Despite a slight drizzle, more than 100 people showed up to fill the wraparound porch and part of the front lawn at the historic Weatherberry home at the Western Kentucky Botanical Garden. (The Botanical Garden served as the venue but is not affiliated with or endorsing Beshear.)
Beshear touted the state’s economic development progress over the last three years. He said 2021 was the best year ever, followed by 2022.
“I’m here to tell you the 2023 is going to be our third-best year for economic development in our history,” he said. “I think about what it means in terms of momentum to have our best years ever back-to-back-to-back … it means we have a chance to do something special, to be the generation that changed everything. Let’s not just leapfrog 10 other states’ economies, let’s be a top-10 state economy.”
Beshear also said, “Last year we set the lowest annual unemployment rate ever; 5 months ago the lowest monthly unemployment rate ever, the longest period of low unemployment we have ever seen. We set the lowest recidivism rate the Commonwealth has ever seen. And folks, through the hard work of so many people, we were one of only eight states in the entire country that saw a significant decrease in overdose deaths last year.”
Saying the state’s fiscal house “is in better shape than it’s ever been,” Beshear said “the pensions of every teacher, police officer, firefighter and social worker are safer than they’ve been in decades.”
He added that with the largest general fund surplus the state has ever had at $1.55 billion.
“That means we have more than enough money to give all our public school employees that giant raise they deserve. What it means is we have more than enough money for universal pre-K for every 4-year-old in Kentucky. And what it means is we can continue to invest in our communities.”
Democratic candidates from across the state were also in attendance for the “Celebration of Community” event, including Ag Commissioner candidate Sierra Enlow, State Auditor candidate Kim Reeder, and State Treasurer candidate Michael Bowman.