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Governor: Economic success, good virus response is setting KY up for years of prosperity

Beshear
Posted at 10:45 PM, Dec 07, 2021

(LEX 18) — As 2021 comes to an end, Governor Andy Beshear says he's proud of Kentucky's success this year.

"I am thrilled. I'm not sure I have an adjective to describe how truly excited I am," said Beshear in a one-on-one interview with LEX 18 Political Reporter Karolina Buczek. "By the end of this month, I believe we'll shatter every single economic development record. We are already way over the annual record for total investment in the Commonwealth. We'll certainly hit $11 billion when we [normally] average four to six billion a year."

The governor believes Kentucky's economic development records and effective virus response set Kentucky up for years of prosperity.

“Our time is here. Our future is now,” Beshear said. “We are on the cusp of prosperity the likes of which Kentucky has never seen, and if we continue to work hard and make smart decisions – in how we invest in all our communities and our people – we can turn these last two years of progress into 20 years of prosperity.”

Kentucky's biggest investment came from Ford this year. The company is investing almost $6 billion as it builds a new electric car battery plant in Hardin County.

It is the single largest capital investment and single largest jobs announcement in Kentucky's history. The company is set to create an estimated 5,000 full-time jobs.

The governor says in total, commitments have been made by various companies to create more than 15,800 full-time jobs in the coming years.

"It means more options, better pay, and the security of knowing that the job you're going to take is going to be around for the next 40 years," said Beshear.

However, there is another work-related issue Kentucky must fix. The state currently has more jobs than workers. But Beshear says having a lot of jobs is not a bad problem to have.

"If we go back to March of 2020 and April of 2020, and if we would have told ourselves then that our economy in a year and a half would grow so much, we have more jobs than people, we would have said 'deal.' I will take that challenge," said Beshear.

But Beshear acknowledges that the workforce shortage must be addressed with creative solutions.

"The overall answer is we have to be innovative," said Beshear. "We have to look at new ways to attract new workers and create a community in the workplace. One way we've done that is launching a pilot in Jefferson County Public Schools called 'Everybody Counts' and the aim is to ensure everybody either a spot in higher education...or a good-paying job when they graduate from high school. It's ensuring that we don't lose people that are ready to go into the workforce."

Overall, Beshear says Kentucky's economic success would not be possible without proper action to fight COVID-19. In less than a year, the state vaccinated 61% of its population. Kentucky is also number one in its region and above the national average for booster shots. However, the governor says that's not enough.

"I won't be satisfied until this thing is done and nobody is dying from it."