GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX 18) — Ford's agreement to build a new plant in Hardin County is invoking memories of another deal with an automaker that led to the transformation of central Kentucky.
When Toyota picked Kentucky for its first US plant, it was something unheard of in this state.
A company like that picking a small town and pumping billions into our economy. It's still looked upon as Kentucky's greatest "get."
At one point, the community mantra was, 'Where Heritage and Progress Meet.'
The progress came with Toyota; the population more than tripling over the past 30 years and dozens of new businesses coming along with it. The heritage is right on Main Street.
In 1985, Kimberly Hay was working for Farmer's Bank, which was located on Main Street.
It was also the site of the biggest deal in the county's history, between then-Gov. Martha Layne Collins and Toyota.
"They signed it in our bank when we were Farmer's Bank. They signed it in our board room," said Hay. "And we knew things were gonna change. We didn't realize how much it was going to change. But the change has been positive."
That growth included the current owner of Fava's Restaurant.
"94. January of '94 I was hired. Started in body weld out there," said Jon Gruchow, who retired from Toyota a few years ago.
"There wasn't as many businesses here located on Main Street (at the time)," said Hay.
"We didn't have the bypass. Walmart was three locations prior to where it's at now," said Gruchow.
The buildings remain the same on Main Street even though the faces inside have changed.
Jack Conner with Scott County United has helped Georgetown capitalize on the millions of dollars and thousands of workers Toyota brought to the area.
The economy will continue to diversify, but Conner says the town is still built on relationships, and that heartbeat, the heritage, remains.
"This town hasn't changed. It's still the same Main Street that it always was. That's very important, very very important," said Conner.
A single contract transformed Georgetown. Conner forecasts the same future for Hardin County.