city owensboro 300OWENSBORO, Ky. (5/9/13) – As the city of Owensboro continues to garner national attention, one internationally known magazine has reportedly awarded Owensboro a ranking that is sure to get the attention of job seekers and prospective employers alike.

According to local sources, Forbes Magazine, a powerhouse voice in the business world, has ranked Owensboro sixth on its list of “Best Small Towns to Hold a Job In.” The 2013 ranking means that Owensboro has jumped fifteen slots over last year’s survey, in which the city was ranked at number 21, leading to an employment growth rate of 2.5%.

Owensboro has “definitely been a city on the move,” as Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne puts it, especially in the past year with the opening of Smothers Park (considered by many to be the keynote accomplishment of Payne’s ambitious downtown renovation project). The new park was one of the first steps of a plan that when introduced in 2009 was met with reluctance and faced quite a bit of public backlash. The plan itself had no other possible funding mechanism than to be paid for with taxes, most of which were harvested through  tax rate increases in the city. More than half of the $178.4 million in public and privately financed downtown renovation projects have been provided by an $80 million tax hike that raised the city premium insurance tax rate to from 4 percent to 8 percent and in the outlying Daviess County from 4.9 percent to 8.9 percent.

Despite the skepticism early on, the results of the are starting to see a return on the investment. Within the past two years, Owensboro has seen an influx of private money pour into the downtown, with private investors reportedly spending approximately $90 million in the area.

On Thursday, following the release of the Forbes rating to the public, Payne said Owensboro is truly excited about the news.

“This has just reaffirmed what we have thought all along… that is, Owensboro is definitely a city on the move,” Payne said.

He pointed out that when he took office in 2008, Owensboro was reeling from the effects of a deep recession.

“We realized that we had to invest in ourselves, and that coming out of that recession was exactly the right time to do it,” Payne remarked. “All of the projects we began are completed with the exception of the downtown hotel and convention center, and those should be completed within the year.”

Convention Center officials have set an official opening date for late January 2014.

Now months into his second term, Payne has even more ambitious plans to make Owensboro a brighter star on the map. Currently, plans are being discussed that would bring an interstate through Owensboro. I-67 would run from Nashville to Indianapolis, and would pass through Owensboro on the way.

“It’s not a matter of if,” said Payne, “It’s simply a matter of when.”

More job opportunities are expected to continue to pour into Owensboro this year. Last week, it was announced that the Gabe’s Tower hotel has been bought. The new owner and developer has plans to renovate and reopen it. A new tennis facility is also in the planning stages. It is slated to open in late 2013.

Alex Reid
SurfKY News

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Posted on 2/2/14

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