Chamber HCHENDERSON, Ky. (11/29/19) — Dozens of Kentucky communities will be better positioned to attract jobs and business investment following the first round of the Kentucky Product Development Initiative, or PDI, a new program implementing a proactive approach to enhance the state’s site-and-building inventory, Henderson Chamber of Commerce reports.

Through PDI’s objective, third-party process, Dallas-based Site Selection Group recommended nine communities receive a total $2.95 million in grant funds to upgrade industrial and office sites and buildings. Communities must match any state grants dollar-for-dollar, thereby allowing PDI to leverage a total of nearly $6 million to upgrade Kentucky’s inventory of sites and buildings. As well, 36 communities statewide will receive professional development consultations from SSG to identify next steps in improving local sites and buildings.

“As the corporate support center for economic development statewide, we’re pleased to receive these recommendations from Site Selection Group. We’re also incredibly encouraged to see so much interest and involvement in this first round from local economic developers across Kentucky,” said Vivek Sarin, interim secretary of the Cabinet for Economic Development, a partner in PDI. “Kentucky’s record-breaking economic development success over the past four years claimed many of the state’s tier-one sites and buildings. Through this first round of PDI, communities will have additional resources and guidance to upgrade their available properties and attract new business projects.”

The Cabinet partnered with the Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) on the new initiative. Matt Tackett, KAED president and CEO, said the technical analysis SSG provided is – and will continue – assisting participating communities with valuable and applicable insight.

“KAED is thrilled with the collaborative, statewide effort necessary to deploy this initiative,” Tackett said. “While we celebrate the dissemination of matched capital into the market for job-creating activities, we recognize the long-term programmatic value of PDI exceeds that of the grant awards. This initiative is very much an educational program, as every participatory community throughout Kentucky will receive a thorough workforce and site analysis per metrics site selection consultants evaluate daily on behalf of corporate clients. This feedback will inform and strengthen future PDI applications, but more importantly is a tool economic developers will use in their daily practice, which no doubt enhances professional capacity to amplify our globally competitive positioning.”

As a third-party, out-of-state site selection firm, SSG ensured objectivity in the PDI process as it evaluated the 45 grant applications submitted by Kentucky communities, which totaled 47 sites and buildings. KYNDLE submitted an application for the Henderson Bypass Rail site (425 bypass property). In today's fast-paced market, most prospective industries are searching for industrial sites that are shovel-ready and utility-served for expedited timelines and low-risk investments. The proposed infrastructure improvement project would extend the natural gas line to the site property line along Highway 425 Bypass.  The totaled grant amount requested was $175,000 with a local match.

Josh Bays, a partner in SSG, said he and his fellow SSG leaders were thrilled with the number and quality of applications received, as well as the diversity of rural and urban locations statewide. “Grant funding is not the end goal. The end goal is that communities use the insight and resources from the PDI process to ultimately land job-creating projects on their sites,” Bays said. “A major advantage the Kentucky PDI program offers communities is the ability to build upon their economic development knowledge and improve year-over-year.”

Henderson was lucky enough to receive a site visit to further evaluate the Henderson Bypass Rail site (425 bypass property) for further recommendation of grant funds. The KYNDLE Economic Development team organized the site visit with community partners including city and county government, utility providers, Qk4 Engineering, Henderson County Riverport, CSX, Henderson County School System, Henderson Community College, and local existing industries.  After the visit the site selectors highlighted the tremendous presence of community partners and presentation of the site.  

The Henderson Bypass Rail site (425 bypass property) is one of nine submissions SSG recommended for grant-funded enhancements.

Henderson County Judge Executive Brad Schneider stated, “The PDI process was really helpful for everyone in Henderson County who cares about economic development. Not only did PDI staff learn more about our community and its resources but the group of local representatives who participated in the process gained an even better understanding of our strengths and weaknesses.  That information alone is valuable to add to that potential for funding to further help our effort would be a wonderful added bonus.”

For the next step in the PDI process, each of the nine communities will be required to bring its project to the Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority (KEDFA) for funding consideration by the board in the coming months.

 “This is a great example of what can be accomplished when we all pull in the same direction,” Iriti said. “With the help of 26 local manufacturers, educators, City and County leaders we were one of nine communities selected to receive these funds.”

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