A trip last week to Henderson, KY for a talk showed me an ED organization model that makes so much sense to me. It is a model that I think you are going to see spreading as regionalism continues to make more sense to more people.
NorthWest KY Forward is a four county effort that started in July, 2005 even though some of the counties first started working together in the mid 90s when they jointly developed the Four Star Industrial Park where they both shared in the costs and revenues from the park. From those first efforts of working together came NW KY Forward, a public/private organization.
What most impressed me with this organization was their simple structure and also their straightforward strategy. The organization is lean with only four employees but the focus is on three areas: 1. Recruitment; 2. Retention and 3. Entrepreneurism. Their strategy is honed onto five industry sectors:
Auto manufacturing parts
They’ve got strong reasons and logic in supporting each sector. As an example, within sixty miles of Henderson there are 22 companies which hire over 8,000 employees, producing one-third of the aluminum in the USA. There’s similar reasoning for each of the other four sectors.
In a short period of time, NorthWest KY Forward has landed new companies, helped start some new businesses, expanded employment and has a number of future projects on the drawing boards.
Kevin Sheilley, President, told me, “We’ve got four companies looking at doing new projects here that have over 500 acres optioned.”
That is a lot of land and some big projects!
On a side note, Kevin as part of tour, took me by a Tyson chicken processing plant. He told me, “They process 1.25 million chickens per week here. A lot of their production is exported. Surprisingly, the highest value/pound is chicken feet which are exported solely to China.”