The inaugural ‘WAVE River Counties Ag Day’ next week is looking to bring statewide attention to Kentucky’s four westernmost counties.
‘WAVE’ is a collaboration of Kentucky’s westernmost counties working to overcome those challenges. Fulton County’s poverty levels are 30 percent as of 2015 and the closure of a paper mill in Wickliffe last year caused significant job loss. WAVE River Counties Ag Day event chair Bob Wilson said the region is a “hidden treasure” with untapped potential. Wilson said economic struggles could be resolved if the four counties lining the Mississippi River promote their access to the waterways and strong agricultural base.
“One of the biggest promotional pieces that we have in our river counties is agriculture. That's our economic backbone. We have one of the strongest agriculture bases in the state. Some of the most progressive and productive farmers..” Wilson said.
Wilson said the region is in ‘dire need’ of new jobs and hopes politicians and businesses invited to Ag Day will take notice. He also hopes the event will catch the attention of young people who feel like they have to leave to find opportunity.
“When you lose one, you lose generations. So we know what we have, and we know that they want to stay, but they don't have the opportunity to do so.” Wilson said.
Wilson said the region’s low cost of living can be appealing for those looking to leave the city life.
The event will feature ag-related exhibits and activities for all ages. The event is a collaboration of local farmers, business people, educational institutions and elected officials from four Kentucky river counties. Ag Day is on July 13th in Wickliffe.