by Bill Mardis
A former governor of Kentucky braved icy roads Tuesday to urge members of the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce to encourage local business leaders to become export advocates for this community.
Martha Layne Collins, the 56th governor of Kentucky from 1983 to 1987 and Kentucky’s only female governor, said Kentucky Export Initiative partners have launched a statewide effort to work with chambers, economic development agencies and other business leaders to encourage exporting. The Kentucky Export Initiative brings together agencies, organizations and business leaders to promote exporting.
“Become an export advocate in your community and form a team to lead your outreach effort,” said Collins who currently serves as Ambassador-at-Large for International Trade with the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.
Even through Kentucky set a record with more than $25 billion in export sales last year, Collins said “ ... it’s only the tip of the iceberg.” She said, believe it or not, the top export business in Kentucky is the Asian carp, bane of sports fishermen, but the fish are caught, packaged and sent to China where it is a delicacy.
Speaking at The Center for Rural Development, Collins said she has visited The Center many times and “ ... you all have a wonderful opportunity here.” The Center, brainchild of Congressman Hal Rogers, has a mission to promote economic development in Kentucky’s 5th District and provide an electronic link to trading partners in foreign countries.
Originally a schoolteacher, Collins has served Kentucky in a variety of roles, including clerk of the Supreme Court, lieutenant governor, president of the state Senate, chair of the National Conference of Lieutenant Governors and CEO of Kentucky World Trade Center.
Collins also has served as president of St. Catherine College, executive-in-residence at the University of Louisville's School of Business, director of the International Business and Management Center at the University of Kentucky and is a Harvard University Fellow in the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She was elected executive scholar in residence at Georgetown College, where she developed the Center for Commerce, Language and Culture.
While governor, Collins was instrumental in bringing the Toyota plant to Georgetown.