In front of a room full of Northern Kentucky’s prominent business leaders and politicians, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear touted how the region has been instrumental in helping shape the commonwealth’s economic recovery in the post-COVID years.
The NKY Chamber of Commerce hosted their Government Forum this week with Beshear being the keynote speaker. The purpose of the forum was to ask the governor about the most pressing economic and political issues facing the region.
“I hope that you are as excited as I am about the fact that not only are we set this rapid pace that we are not slowing down,” Beshear said. “Our call volume in our Economic Development Cabinet hasn’t slowed one bit since 2021. You can bet a lot of those calls are about right here in Northern Kentucky.”
The Brent Spence Bridge Corridor Project, which Beshear, along with President Joe Biden, announced funding for earlier this month, will be a key to driving economic growth in Northern Kentucky going forward.
Federal funding for the bridge came from Congress’ passage of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. $1.6 billion in federal grant money will go toward paying the estimated $3.3 to $3.8 billion price tag of the project.
When asked if he had any concerns about inflation, supply chain issues and workforce challenges relating to the remaining $2 billion needed to complete the project, Beshear remained optimistic and said he expects ground will be broken on the project later this year.
With inflation and rising construction costs, Beshear told reporters he believes that the project will be completed on schedule, but due to inflation, the project might not get completed under budget.
“Thankfully, there’s a lot of smart people, both on the Ohio and the Kentucky side. We already have a lead engineer that helps with the project,” Beshear said. “We believe that we can do this. We’ll get it done on schedule. We might not get it done under budget with inflation but we think we can get it done somewhere close to and we’re going to get it done without tolls regardless.”
Beshear said he toured the Amazon Air facility in Hebron Tuesday morning and came away impressed.
“I got to get a firsthand tour of that Amazon facility,” Beshear said. “Do y’all realize that the biggest investment in the history of Amazon was made right here in Northern Kentucky?”
In addition to Amazon, Beshear mentioned a number of other companies in Northern Kentucky which have invested into building larger operations and expanding their facility size. Some of those mentioned include Levi Strauss, 80 Acres Farms and Nucor Steel. Whitehorse Freight unveiled their new Crestview Hills facility Tuesday after a $5.4 million investment into their company. Last week, North American Stainless announced a $244 million investment into their Carroll County facility.
With the amount of new jobs created, Beshear acknowledged the workforce challenges the region has faced in being able to fill those jobs.
“We’ve been working with this chamber,” Beshear said. “We’ve talked about the initiatives repeatedly in a number of different ways.”
These initiatives include working with the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to ensure that specific programs are tied to employers in the region and also investing between $240 and $280 million in career and technical programs in Kentucky high schools.
Despite overall economic growth, Beshear cited the numerous unprecedented tragedies Kentucky has endured since he first took office in December 2019, specifically the COVID-19 pandemic, the Russia-Ukraine War’s effect on the national economy, western Kentucky tornados, eastern Kentucky floods and two ice storms. However, Beshear remained optimistic about the future of Kentucky.
“I truly believe we’ve moved on from that time of darkness and great difficulty and loss, into one of optimism, progress and prosperity,” Beshear said.