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Is KIPDA report the ghost of economic development future?

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By John Parks

Growing up, my dad subscribed to Popular Mechanics. I loved going through the issues and seeing the things that would be around when I became an adult. The issues predicted things like hover cars, personal jet packs and condos on the moon. I’m still waiting for my jet pack.

Something that is more startling, and grounded in reality, is what Henry County will look like in the year 2050.

In September 2012, the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency published the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Report. KIPDA sought representatives from the public and private sectors of Bullitt, Henry, Jefferson, Oldham Shelby, Spencer and Trimble Counties to create an economic roadmap to strengthen the regional economy.

Planning for the future. Henry County apparently chose not to participate.

The report looked at infrastructure, transportation, workforce development, the economy, quality of life and housing. KIPDA studied demographics like population trends and economic base, the labor force, unemployment rates and employment trends.

Based on the statistical data compiled, there is a glaring projection. Henry County is dying off. Based on the report, Bullitt, Jefferson, Oldham Shelby, Spencer and Trimble will grow, while Henry County will shrink.

Between 2006 and 2011, Henry County’s labor force has decreased by 8.17 percent.

What does that mean for you, the resident of Henry County? Higher taxes. If you want your roads maintained, if you want government services, you will, in fact, begin to see your taxes go up. While the Judge-Executive and Fiscal Court have done their best to keep our taxes from going up, if these statistics are correct, Henry County will eventually have to raise taxes to maintain status quo, or go the way of Detroit.

There is hope. Real Economic Development.

There are people who are doing their best to bring economic development to Henry County, broadening Henry County’s tax base. No, CVS alone cannot save Henry County, but Eminence Mayor Drane Stephens should be commended for what he is doing to bring businesses to Eminence. As should Magistrate Roger Hartlage, who successfully fought to make Henry a moist county, knowing it was needed to attract major restaurants and hotels.

These are first steps, important steps, to changing Henry County’s future. Is KIPDA’s Report ‘the shadows of the things that Will be, or are they shadows of things that May be, only?’

Time will tell.