Call to Order and Roll Call
The1st meeting of the Subcommittee on Rural Issues of the Interim Joint Committee on Agriculture was held on Wednesday, October 8, 2014, at 10:00 AM, in Room 131 of the Capitol Annex. Representative Mike Denham, Chair, called the meeting to order, and the secretary called the roll.
Members:Representative Mike Denham, Co-Chair; Senators David P. Givens, Paul Hornback, and Whitney Westerfield; Representatives Jim Glenn, Richard Heath, Kim King, Terry Mills, Bart Rowland, Steven Rudy, Jonathan Shell, and John Short.
Guests: Hollie Spade, Chief of Staff, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Will McDowell, Department for Business Development, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Shawn Rogers, Office of Entrepreneurship, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, Ron Crouch, Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, Melissa Aguilar, Executive Director, Kentucky Workforce Investment Board.
Job Opportunities in Rural Kentucky
Ms. Hollie Spade, Chief of Staff, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, discussed job opportunities in rural Kentucky. The cabinet has 197 active projects. Projects include Asian carp in western Kentucky, expansion in the food and beverage industry, bourbon industry in Shelby County, and the opening of Champion Pet Food's Logan County facility.
Ms. Shawn Rogers, Office of Entrepreneurship, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, discussed the role of her newly created office. The Office of Entrepreneurship provides guidance and support to start-up operations and assists existing small businesses with growth opportunities. It is a central point of contact, connecting entrepreneurs and small business owners with resources. Programs include: Kentucky Innovation Network, Kentucky Small Business Credit Initiative, Kentucky Angel Investors Network, Kentucky Small Business Tax Credit, and Kentucky Export Initiative.
Mr. Will McDowell, Department for Business Development, Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development, discussed the Build-Ready Program. Kentucky has less than half the building inventory of competing states. Build-Ready recognizes and promotes industrial sites that can be developed and built on quickly. Build-Ready sites are clear of environmental issues, and infrastructure extension plans are in place.
In response to Representative Denham, Ms. Spade stated there are approximately 30 Work Ready communities. There are 54 counties included in Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR).
In response to Representative King, Ms. Rogers said that the annual summit will be held at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort, Kentucky on November 13, 2014. Asian carp are the cause of fish being the fastest growing export, with a 362 percent increase in fish exports.
In response to Senator Givens, Mr. McDowell stated that the Build-Ready program has a set of standards for costs and utilities. The standards are established by the providers. Build-Ready was launched in April 2014, and the Cabinet for Economic Development plans to announce the first Build-Ready site in one month.
In response to Representative Heath, Ms. Spade stated that Kentucky's workforce is the number one concern. The Cabinet for Economic Development is partnering with the Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet to enhance training and education. Other states have closing funds; Kentucky does not have closing funds.
In response to Senator Hornback, Ms. Spade stated that community colleges are working to address industry needs and to create industry, educational, and technical partnerships.
Current Trends in Kentucky's Job Market
Ms. Melissa Aguilar, Executive Director, Kentucky Workforce Investment Board, stated that the Kentucky Skills Network connects companies with workforce solutions, matching employer needs to available workforce resources. Kentucky has 11 certified Work Ready communities and 25 certified Work Ready in Progress communities. Other communities have issued a letter of intent or are in the formative stage. Some job challenges in rural areas include geographic barriers, technology access, educational attainment, and skills gaps.
Mr. Ron Crouch, Kentucky Education and Workforce Development Cabinet, stated that middle-skilled jobs are in most demand. Healthcare is Kentucky's major employer; manufacturing, due to automation, has declined. The number of high school and associate degrees has increased.
Mr. Crouch stated that counties throughout Kentucky vary widely in pay scales for manufacturing jobs. Some counties may pay approximately $1,300 per week while other counties may pay $500 per week on average. A major challenge in rural Kentucky is that much of the economy is a cash or "underground" economy.
Representative Glenn complimented Mr. Crouch and Ms. Aguilar on the information presented and stated that he utilizes the information in the classroom.
In response to Representative Short, Mr. Crouch stated that a new road should be beneficial to Representative Short's area. Access to roads is always important.
In response to Representative Heath, Mr. Crouch stated that many counties have lowered pay levels due to the recession. Access to roads is important for Kentucky to be competitive.
In response to Representative Denham, Mr. Crouch stated that it is important for clinics to remain in rural areas. Many residents of rural areas want to get treatment locally and do not want to travel to urban hospitals for treatment.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.