6 counties work together for economic development

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By Brad Bowman

Members of the Henry County Economic Development Board have teamed up with six counties to increase opportunities for residents and the county.

The I-71 Corridor Group encompasses judges-executive and members from Henry, Trimble, Oldham, Carroll, Gallatin and Owen Counties with intent to attract and retain businesses and stimulate economies along the interstate. Economic Development Chair Harold Bratton considers the group a catalyst for Henry County’s own economic future.

“We know that what is good for Carroll County is good for Henry County,” Bratton said. “Sixty percent of the people that work in the factories in Carroll County live in the surrounding counties. People in Henry County will benefit from growth.”

The six counties have each brought $15,000 to the table to hire someone who will help develop economic opportunities and market the counties in the I-71 Corridor Group. New Castle, Eminence, Campbellsburg and Henry County Fiscal Court funded Henry County’s part for what Bratton considers a necessary step.

“We can do more if we combine our efforts instead of  working as individual counties, “ Bratton said. “There isn’t really going to be any overhead involved or need for office space with this position. When this person works in Henry County they will work out of the judge-executive’s office.

Bratton said the organization began informally in Carroll County and several members from Henry County regularly attend, which include voting members from each county. Most counties have a committee organization similar to the Henry County Economic Development Board that attend the meetings.

“We hear about things like Carroll County running out of property for industrial businesses or factories wanting to locate there, but the judge-executive actually took some people to look at property in Gallatin County.”

According to Henry County Judge Executive John Logan Brent, these types of opportunities will be available to the county once adequate preparation is made.

“We hired a consultant in 2011 who has been very successful in encouraging and promoting growth and finished with us in January,” Brent said. “She pointed out things we needed to do. One of those things was hiring a marketer. Henry County couldn’t have afforded that on its own, and with this group it has been done.”

Brent said the main things the consultant saw the county needed included hiring a marketer, update and improve the county website with information that included opportunities for businesses wanting to locate to Henry County with available property, buildings, etc.; and a committee like the economic development board needed to be formed. Within that committee would be a subcommittee that Brent said would call on existing industry to see to their needs involving city and county government or schools.

Schools could offer more skill sets, such as welding, if needed by companies in the county or special training to meet the needs lacking in their workforce Brent said.

Brent stressed the state of the economy and the counties offerings must be coordinated.

“We have developed the industrial park in Campbellsburg, but you cannot sell a piece of bare ground that doesn’t have adequate sewer, water and other utilities available,” Brent said. “Most industries are looking for building that already exists. We have shown the Brunswick building, but for some those ceilings are too low. All we can sell mostly throughout the county is bare ground and it puts us at a disadvantage. You have to have the land and infrastructure ready.”


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