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UK helps improve life in Henry County

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By The Staff

Residents of Henry County may not realize the ways the University of Kentucky continually touches their lives, by providing education to 39 young Henry Countians in the 2008-09 academic year, assisting business people, advising homemakers and agricultural enterprises and offering guidance on health care.  

UK’s 2008-09 academic year began with nine Henry County freshmen, 10 sophomores, eight juniors and eight seniors attending classes, along with four others pursuing graduate degrees or professional degrees in nursing, medicine, pharmacy and law.

Meanwhile, Henry Countians already entrust vital parts of their lives to professionals who learned their skills at UK.  The county has four lawyers, four nurses, one physician, 10 pharmacists and one dentist who earned their degrees at UK.

And UK’s impact promises to continue far into the future, as UK launches more research programs and economic development initiatives designed to improve prosperity and the quality of life of for every Kentuckian.

“The University of Kentucky takes great pride in knowing it is the Commonwealth’s flagship, land-grant university,” UK President Lee T. Todd Jr., said. “With that title comes the responsibility of making sure Kentuckians in all 120 counties feel the impact of UK’s education, research and outreach. Our Top 20 mandate did not call on UK to become a leading American university for the sake of rankings and statistics; it challenged us to help change conditions in every corner of the Commonwealth. And we remain committed to doing just that.”

“The federal research dollars that UK brings to the state has a large direct impact on the state economy.  However, these research dollars are only a small part of the total impact UK has on the state,” said Ken Troske, director of the UK Center for Business and Economic Research.

For instance, Henry County boasts 327 alumni of UK, but the university’s impact stretches beyond those who have studied in its classrooms by assisting regional and local economic development efforts.

“The education students receive from UK turns them into more productive workers and citizens,” Troske said.  “In turn these students help raise the wages of other workers in the state; are less likely to commit crimes; are healthier; and are more informed participants in the political process.  All Kentuckians benefit directly from UK, even those who never set foot on campus.”

Meanwhile, more than 350,000 patients relied on the UK Chandler Medical Center– which includes the UK Chandler Hospital, the Kentucky Clinics and the Kentucky Children’s Hospital – for their health care in the fiscal year that ended June 30, including 422 patient visits by Henry County residents.

In Henry County, local residents consulted with UK Cooperative Extension agents Cathy Toole, Steve Moore and Maryellen Garrison on a broad range of issues, providing information on medical issues, healthy recipes, household budgeting, and weather precautions important to both farmers and homeowners.  Across Kentucky, families using this service – the nation’s third largest Extension service – reduced their health care costs by $24 million.  Meanwhile, farmers saw their revenues rise by $25 million.

Business people in Henry County obtained information four times about better methods of improving competitiveness.  The advice offered by consultants of UK’s Kentucky Small Business Development Centers (KSBDC) resulted in an average annual increase of sales by its clients of nearly $546,329.  Statewide, KSBDC’s services helped generate more than $92.6 million in sales and helped create 806 jobs and save 295 others.

Henry County’s men and women who work in area manufacturing plants may have benefited from increased job opportunities created by improved efficiency and productivity resulting from the consulting services of UK’s Industrial Extension Service.  This program, and UK’s Center for Manufacturing, advises nearly 320 companies a year on ways to heighten profitable operations, and most of these companies are in Kentucky.

UK’s future economic impact also will extend into Henry County, as coming generations seek their degrees both on the campus in Lexington and on the Internet via Kentucky’s Commonwealth Virtual University.  Better earnings, a more educated work force and a higher tax base – the evidence of real prosperity – can be expected.