Kentucky Cornerstone wants to bring more electric vehicle-related businesses to western Ky.
Economic development organizations from western Kentucky are teaming up to market the region as a prime location for companies looking to capitalize on the boom in electric vehicle battery production in Kentucky and Tennessee.
Formed after many of the organizations worked to further develop Murray State University’s economic development master’s program, the member groups of Kentucky Cornerstone came together after the announcement of multiple electric vehicle related projects in the region, most notably Ford’s Blue Oval City electric vehicle center in Stanton, Tennessee, and Blue Oval SK battery park in Glendale.
“When the Ford plant was announced [and] when Blue Oval was announced, it just seemed natural for us since we’ve been working together through MSU with Chris Wooldridge to say, ‘Hey, is there a way we can tap into potential subsidiary businesses up for Ford and other motor manufacturing?’ And that really was, it was [an] organic transition from one focal point to another point,” says Hannah Chretien, executive director of the Ballard County Economic Development and Industrial Board.
The group represents a collaborative effort between 12 local economic development organizations with different strengths and weaknesses from Ballard, Caldwell, Calloway, Christian, Crittenden, Fulton, Hickman, Livingston, Lyon, McCracken, Todd and Trigg counties.
The group is hoping to highlight the versatility of the region when it comes to industrial transport and energy availability. One strategy to that end is advancing upcycling in western Kentucky. The area offers multiple sources of energy, including coal power, hydroelectricity and solar power candidates.
Chretien said having a balanced portfolio of energy sources benefits all members of the community and companies who need those resources
“To be able to highlight that and say, ‘Hey You don’t have to go to California to get the mix you need. You can come right here to western Kentucky. Take advantage of lower tax rates. Take advantage of the people that are already used to working in a manufacturing environment. So a skilled workforce is right here. Why not come along,’” says Chretien.
As a region, western Kentucky offers interstate routes, rail, air connections, and multi-port access to the inland waterway network, all of which Greater Paducah Economic DevelopmentCEO/president Bruce Wilcox hopes will attract and accelerate investments in electric vehicle production.
McCracken County has multiple industrial sites – including the Triple Rail Site, Industrial Park West and the Paducah Commerce Park – that Wilcox said would be able to meet the needs of an automotive or electrical vehicle manufacturer. Wilcox noted that the western Kentucky area provides not only a good quality of life, but provides a mass amount of cultural assets and entertainment along with many job opportunities.
“Paducah is the largest city from Saint Louis to Nashville. We really are a regional draw and a regional destination. From a workforce standpoint. From the arts community, with the Carson Center and a very vibrant downtown,” said Wilcox. “Each one of our communities in the Kentucky Cornerstone group, we all have a different niche that we try to fulfill.”
Wilcox said that Kentucky Cornerstone is planning to visit the Ford plant in Stanton, Texas to see the development of EV battery production.