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Ky. League Of Cities, Murray State To Offer Economic Development Expertise For Elected Officials

Liam Niemeyer

Murray State University and the Kentucky League of Cities announced Thursday a partnership to help build economic development expertise for elected officials across the state. University leadership and representatives with the KLC  hope the needs of cities across the state can be met with help from business experts at Murray State.

At a press conference at the Murray State Bauernfeind College of Business, university president Bob Jackson hailed the partnership as a way for Murray State to fulfill a responsibility of supporting the economy in all corners of the commonwealth. 


“Especially in our region, the far western part of the state. Especially rural Kentucky,” Jackson said. “As we exit this pandemic, we’re going to have a lot of opportunity to do a lot of work in a lot of different areas.” 


Chris Wooldridge, director of the Center for Economic and Entrepreneurial Development at the university’s business college, said what is offered to elected officials and mayors may depend on the needs of each city and local government. Wooldridge said the partnership would build on services already offered at Murray State, including a master’s degree and certificate program in economic development and the entrepreneurship center he leads. 


“All of that economic development experience and academic support can be used to reach out to the communities, and how that looks is really going to depend on what the elected officials need,” Wooldridge said. “Do they need on-site assistance? Do they need presentations to their boards?” 


Kentucky League of Cities CEO J.D. Chaney said the partnership could be especially important as hundreds of millions from the American Rescue Plan Act headed to local governments over the coming years, as economic development experts at Murray State could advise cities on how to best use incoming stimulus funds. 


“Some of it will have to be used to shore up lost revenues caused by the pandemic,” Chaney said. “But in terms of making investments in small businesses and other parts of the community for a long term impact to set these cities up for success, this is where I think there’s a real opportunity to leverage the expertise of Murray State.” 


Estimates from the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform show that Kentucky cities are expected to receive $700 million from the American Rescue Plan Act, with county governments receiving more than $850 million. 


The first paragraph of this story was updated for clarity.


"Liam Niemeyer is a reporter for the Ohio Valley Resource covering agriculture and infrastructure in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia and also serves Assistant News Director at WKMS. He has reported for public radio stations across the country from Appalachia to Alaska, most recently as a reporter for WOUB Public Media in Athens, Ohio. He is a recent alumnus of Ohio University and enjoys playing tenor saxophone in various jazz groups."
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