Call to Order and Roll Call
The2nd meeting of the Subcommittee on Rural Issues of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, November 13, 2013, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Senator Stan Humphries, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Senator Stan Humphries, Co-Chair; Representative Mike Denham, Co-Chair; Senators Paul Hornback and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives C.B. Embry Jr., Richard Heath, Kim King, Terry Mills, Jonathan Shell, and John Short.
Guests: Hollie Spade, Chief of Staff and Legislative Liaison, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Mandy Lambert, Deputy Commissioner of Department for Business Development, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Robert Curry, Executive Director of Bluegrass State Skills Corporation, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Chris Caudill, County Fair Program Coordinator, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, Steve Kelly, Executive Director for the Office of Strategic Planning and Administration, Kentucky Department of Agriculture.
The October 9, 2013 minutes were approved without objection, by voice vote, upon motion made by Representative Embry and seconded by Representative Mills.
Job Opportunities and Economic Development Projects in Rural Kentucky
Ms. Hollie Spade, Chief of Staff and Legislative Liaison, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development discussed job opportunities and economic development projects in rural Kentucky. She said the internet is the first place companies look when selecting communities for relocation or expansion. Communities create profiles so companies can preview site selection, workforce readiness, lifestyle, and community resources. Economic development in a small community requires coordination of resources and significant marketing leadership by local officials. Ms. Spade gave members examples of rural successes utilizing programs such as: Small Business Tax Credit Program, Small Business Collateral Support, Small Business Loan Participation and Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative Projects.
Ms. Mandy Lambert, Deputy Commissioner of Department for Business Development, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, discussed the recent launch of SelectKentucky.com. SelectKentucky.com offers a state-of-the-art Geographic Information System (GIS) and a search component detailing information related to site and building inventory, existing Kentucky industries and community profiles. Select Kentucky allows communities to upload photographs and community videos.
Mr. Robert Curry, Executive Director of Bluegrass State Skills Corporation, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, discussed the Work Ready Community Program. Work Ready certifies counties as "work ready" based on the quality of its labor force. Criteria for Work Ready includes plans related to: high school graduation rates, national career readiness certificates, community commitment, educational attainment, soft skills development and internet availability. Work Ready Community in Progress is a program indicating a county will complete the Work Ready Community Program within three years.
In response to Representative Mills, Ms. Spade stated she would provide a list of STEP projects in Marion County.
In response to Senator Hornback, Ms. Spade stated there is no single issue making Kentucky less competitive than surrounding states when attracting new business.
In response to Representative Denham, Mr. Curry stated the benchmark for education attainment is 32 percent, Kentucky is at 25 percent. Ms. Lambert stated the main reason a company may not locate in a rural community includes lack of site inventory or existing building structures and a ready workforce. Ms. Lambert also stated it is important to have inventory and spec buildings or virtual building tours to show prospective clients.
In response to Representative Heath, Ms. Lambert stated the Cabinet for Economic Development will share information on spec building history and competition with surrounding states.
In response to Representative Embry, Ms. Lambert said that transportation is a key factor in expanding business or relocating to Kentucky.
In response to Senator Humphries, Ms. Spade stated regionalization has become a national trend and gives communities greater resources. Several regional areas have been successful using this method. Ms. Lambert stated the relationship between the Cabinet for Economic Development and the local economic development official is important to a community's success in attracting new business. The key to how a community stands out from other communities depends on how the local economic development official showcases the community. Mr. Curry stated the Work Ready program is a standardized certification and Kentucky's standards are tougher than surrounding states.
In response to Representative Shell, Mr. Curry stated he or Tom West is the point of contact for the Work Ready program and Ms. Lambert stated she is the point of contact for the Select Kentucky website.
County Fair Program and County Fair Fund
Mr. Chris Caudill, County Fair Program Coordinator, Kentucky Department of Agriculture and Mr. Steve Kelly, Executive Director for the Office of Strategic Planning and Administration, Kentucky Department of Agriculture, provided an overview of how the County Fair program is administered. The County Fair program offers two types of aid: state aid and the county fair improvement grant. State aid is a 50 percent matching grant. State funds match dollars spent by the local fair board and can be used for fair and premium programs, horse activities and harness racing. Fair and premium programs can receive up to $4,500, horse activities can receive up to $2,000 and harness racing can receive up to $7,000. County fair improvement grants can request a minimum of $20,000 and maximum $100,000. The county fair improvement grant program fund has $500,000.
In response to Representative Denham, Mr. Caudill and Mr. Kelly stated the county fair improvement grant program received 15 applications this year. Mr. Caudill said that forty-four counties have benefitted from the county fair improvement program since it began in 2007. In 2012, only seven out of 16 applications were funded due to lack of funding. Mr. Kelly said he did not know why there was a $20,000 minimum application requirement but that requirement is in the KAR.
In response to Representative Shell, Mr. Kelly stated funding for the county fair program is a line item in the budget. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture cut the small grant program a couple of years ago which was important to building maintenance. There are no outside sources of funding for the county fair program. Mr. Kelly stated he would provide a copy of the KAR and KRS to Representative Shell and information can be found at www.kyagr.com.
Mr. Kelly stated the Kentucky Department of Agriculture's budget for 2015-2016 includes the county fair program at the same allocation it has received in past years. The Kentucky Department of Agriculture will continue to ask for additional money so small grants can be included in the program again.
In response to Representative Denham, Mr. Kelly said that other state infrastructures are better than Kentucky's due to a lack of funding and poor infrastructure. Mr. Kelly stated the Kentucky Department of Agriculture must follow the guidelines as set in KAR and KRS. Mr. Kelly also noted that buildings in rural communities are used throughout the year and each county is limited to applying for funds every three years.
The meeting adjourned at 11:05 a.m.