Governor highlights economic development, tornado relief, public safety improvements
FRANKFORT, Ky. (May 5, 2022) – Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on economic development, tornado relief, public safety and COVID-19. Ahead of Kentucky Derby 148, he also recognized the state’s hospitality industry as Team Kentucky All-Stars.
Governor Celebrates Continued Economic Momentum
Gov. Beshear thanked four companies for their commitments to Kentucky as our economy thrives.
This week, Gov. Beshear and Novelis executives broke ground on the aluminum producer’s new recycling center in Guthrie (Todd County), a $365 million investment creating 140 well-paying jobs for Kentuckians.
Also this week, ElectraMet company leaders cut the ribbon on a $6 million relocation and expansion project in Lexington aimed at growing the company’s water treatment technologies and capabilities.
Boston-based Fidelity Investments just announced a major nationwide growth initiative, with plans to add more than 12,000 new jobs by the end of the year. Gov. Beshear said 874 of those jobs are coming to Northern Kentucky. Since first locating in Covington back in 1992, Fidelity Investments has grown significantly with more than 4,800 professionals currently employed in this key Kentucky region. In 2021 alone, Fidelity added 1,310 jobs in Kentucky.
During last week’s Team Kentucky update, Gov. Beshear highlighted Casey Jones Distillery’s expansion in Christian County, a $1.9 million investment that will create 15 full-time jobs for local residents.
Today, Cody Turner, a partner at Casey Jones Distillery, joined Gov. Beshear to share more details: “Our $2 million investment could not have happened without the help of this administration and the help of our local center for economic development. We’re hoping to have an impact on the state and our communities, and certainly on the livelihoods of the jobs we’ll be creating over the next few years. If you’re in our neck of the woods, which we like to call a little slice of heaven, please come to the distillery, stop by for a tour, taste some of our award-winning moonshines, bourbons and barrel cuts and see for yourself the growth that’s to come.”
$6.1 Million for Tornado Recovery
Today, Gov. Beshear announced a second round of awards from the West Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (SAFE) fund. The more than $6.1 million in assistance announced today will go to seven Western Kentucky cities, counties and utilities to help with the costs of recovery from the devastating December 2021 tornadoes.
“Our Western Kentucky communities need our help as they continue to rebuild following the tornadoes that took so much from them last December,” Gov. Beshear said. “These funds will help cover expenses and services that are not eligible for FEMA aid, and they will help ease some of the financial burdens that these communities have endured.”
The $6.1 million announced today will accommodate the 5.2% local share for FEMA-eligible expenses. Today’s funding awards include more than $2.8 million for the City of Mayfield, and Mayfield Electric & Water Systems will receive more than $2 million. Caldwell County Fiscal Court is set to receive nearly $200,000. The City of Dawson Springs will receive more than $121,000. Marshall County Fiscal Court will receive more than $811,000. The City of Bowling Green will receive more than $44,000. Hickman County Fiscal Court will receive more than $17,000. Last week, Gov. Beshear announced that Hopkins County would receive the first round of SAFE funding.
“We would like to thank Gov. Beshear, Sen. Howell and others who have worked diligently in setting up SAFE funds for the tornado-ravaged counties in Kentucky,” Hickman County Judge/Executive Kenny Wilson said. “Being able to use funding for our FEMA match is very important to a small county like ours. Our hope in the future is to tap into the SAFE funds more to add additional emergency sirens in our county and make some much-needed improvements for better radio communications for our first responders and emergency service providers. We really appreciate the help.”
Gov. Beshear recommended the appropriation for the SAFE fund, and the 2022 General Assembly supported the aid by passing Senate Bill 150, which the Governor signed into law April 15.
The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management continues to receive additional applications for SAFE funding, which they are carefully reviewing to ensure the funds are used to their maximum benefit. KYEM anticipates additional funding will be made available to some of these same entities soon.
Public Safety Institutions Improve Recruitment, Retention after Salary Increases
Today, Gov. Beshear reported positive updates related to recruitment and retention for Kentucky State Police (KSP) and the commonwealth’s adult and youth correctional facilities:
- Since January 2022, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has only had one prison staff member state resignation due to salary;
- For months, DOC has experienced 60-70% correctional officer vacancy rates. Today, several prisons are in the 30-40% officer vacancy range, which the Governor said is still higher than he wants, but an improvement;
- The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is also seeing increases in staff retention and new hires at their facilities located in rural areas;
- KSP Cadet Class 102 – slated to begin in June 2022 – is expected to start with 80 or more recruits.
“Both DOC and DJJ have attested that the 10% raise we provided security staff in December, and then the locality and shift premium pay issued to DOC, along with some grade changes for additional facility staff at DJJ, and the recent announcement of the 8% raise for all state employees – are the reasons they we are starting to see staffing shortages decrease,” Gov. Beshear said. “KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett, Jr. has expressed that, due to the trooper raises, the agency feels they could potentially return to historic trooper numbers of 1,006 within five years. Our staff deserves to be paid competitively for the work they do, and I am proud to support it.”
The Governor said there was a slight increase in COVID-19 cases over the past week, with four counties now in yellow. However, he said the state is not seeing a notable increase in hospitalizations. He thanked all Kentuckians who have been vaccinated, especially those 65 to 74 years old – in that age group, 98% of people have been vaccinated.
Team Kentucky All-Stars
Ahead of the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Gov. Beshear honored the commonwealth’s hospitality industry as Team Kentucky All-Stars.
“The Kentucky Derby is a time where the world looks to Churchill Downs. Everyone focuses on the horses, the trainers and owners, and of course, the hats, but what often goes unrecognized are those working tirelessly to make the Derby the special tradition it is,” Gov. Beshear said. “The type of hospitality that we roll out, from the track, to our hotels, to our restaurants, to our ride-share drivers and so many more – folks, I’m proud of the work you do every day. With our state on a roll, I hope you are as excited as I am about the possibilities for our kids and grandkids.”