On Thursday, July 29, 2021, the Henderson, KY, officials announced what some have described as a “generational” manufacturing industry coming to their city. A 500,000-sq. foot, $380 million investment, hiring over 300 employees with a competitive wage to begin operations in 2023 will create an incredible impact on the entire region.
While we celebrate the accomplishment by Henderson to attract such an industry, we should ask, “What boxes are needing to be checked for Owensboro-Daviess County to attract such business?”
In my role with The Public Energy Authority of Kentucky (PEAK), providing natural gas service to Henderson Municipal Gas, I participated in the discussions with the company several months ago. After talking to one of the company representatives, later learning that he was the second-wealthiest person in Australia, the decision to locate in Henderson, KY, was vetted by the expert company representatives. They were diligent in identifying critical needs for a successful project. They “checked the infrastructure boxes” of economic development – i.e. 100 acres; location not in the floodplain; access to rail, reliable power, natural gas, water and sewer; and direct access to a four-lane highway.
So, how can Owensboro-Daviess County be considered for future projects? We also have to be able to check the economic development and infrastructure boxes. These boxes are only the beginning of efforts toward attracting businesses, which mean stability and security for our future. Now is the time to double down on efforts to address issues including taxation, planning and zoning, workforce development, etc. We must plan for the infrastructure boxes today. Tomorrow will be too late.
It is time for all of us to come together to celebrate the City of Henderson’s newest corporate partner, and for us to pull together key stakeholders in our community. The question for now is “How can Owensboro-Daviess County check all of the boxes to provide for our future generations?” It will impact our children and grandchildren for decades. We owe it to them.