“I feel like I am at home in Trigg County,” said Todd County EDC Director Mike Baker. “Why do we work with other counties? Over the years, economic development has changed a lot. It used to be a local deal. The only time we’ve competed with Trigg County was for Chelsea Industries. Now, we are competing with other states and countries for businesses.”
Baker said that the tri-county effort received funding through Pennyrile Electric from the Tennessee Valley Authority. “The TVA likes the idea of regional efforts. They put $10,000 into the effort through Pennyrile Electric and gave us another $25,000, so that’s $35,000 in one year.”
Kim Schippers, Director of Christian County’s Economic Development Commission said that Pennyrile Electric provided major support for their efforts.
“All communities are not equal,” said Baker. “Some areas have a four-year university or quality of life advantages. By us working together, we are able to compete.”
Schippers praised Trigg County Economic Director Sharon Butts, saying that the commission was “lucky to have her.”
According to Baker, the interest shown by perspective businesses in the area is “serious.” He said, “The state is not as aggressive as it once was in economic development, so we have taken up the slack.”
“If we are successful, the effort will have to come from us, not the state. The TVA has helped. If we don’t go out and recruit, we are not going to get any industry. The quality of life in the area offers a lot, but we have some negatives, too,” said Commission President Don Leibee.
According to Baker, the tri-county area and western Kentucky region may be attractive to businesses for economic reasons. He said that many businesses in the Chicago area face rising energy costs and that Canadian businesses enjoy a weak American dollar and send much of their product south of the border.
“There’s no market in Canada,” said Baker. “Even the auto industry is moving south and could move here. We’ve had a good response in Canada, but have to continue to go back a coupe of times per year for a while.”
Read more about the EDC, including new officers, in this week's Cadiz Record.