New economic developer aims to bring jobs to region

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Local businesses chip in to cover Owen County’s share of annual salary

By Molly Haines

An economic developer has been hired for a group that joined forces last year to promote the Interstate-71 Kentucky corridor in hopes of new employment opportunities and expansion of existing industries and businesses.
Owen County Judge-executive Carolyn Keith said the group, known as Kentucky Connected, interviewed several potential candidates, including some from out of state before deciding on Steve Dale.
Keith said Dale has a history in economic development and brings extensive knowledge on the subject to the table.
Kentucky Connected is made up of county judge-executives from six counties, including Carroll County Judge-executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson, Gallatin County Judge-executive Ken McFarland, Henry County Judge-executive John Logan Brent, Oldham County Judge-executive David Voegele, Trimble County Judge-executive Randy Stevens and Keith.
Keith said the group’s current chairman is Tomlinson and the group is going in alphabetical order in choosing a different chairman each year.
“I’m pleased that judge Tomlinson is our first chairman,” Keith said. “He has been very successful in bringing industry to Carroll County.”
In order to fund Dale’s position, each of the six counties had to come up with $15,000 per year over a three-year period.
Keith said Owen Electric has committed to $7,500 per year, the Owen County Industrial Authority with $5,000 and Kentucky American Water with $2,500.
“It’s a very good partnership,” Keith said. “Carrollton Utilities and Kentucky Utilities are great supporters as well.”
At the present time, Keith said Dale is perfecting a website for all six counties.
“We’re trying to relook at possible industry for each county,” Keith said. “We’re not replacing the industrial boards within the counties, but instead partnering with them.”
The group’s first success was the coordination of lobbying efforts to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet for the expansion of Interstate 71 to six lanes in width from Boone to Jefferson counties.
The task force secured funding in the 2012 Kentucky General Assembly for the preliminary engineering plans for the interstate expansion that will be directed by the Kentucky District Six Highway Department in Covington.
Keith said the Kentucky Connected group is an example of what she feels should be happening all over the state of Kentucky.
“The state needs more regionalization,” Keith said. “Trimble, Henry and Oldham counties are all in the Louisville highway district and Owen, Carroll and Gallatin Counties are in the northern, Kentucky district, so we’ve got a good mix and that should help us in achieving things in the area.”