FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky lawmakers advanced legislation Wednesday that would tap into the state's budget reserve fund to offer incentives in hopes of landing mega-sized economic development projects.
On the second day of a special session focused on COVID-19 issues, House and Senate panels endorsed bills that would apply the incentives to business development projects topping $2 billion.
Rocky Adkins, the governor's senior adviser, called it a “game changer.” Gov. Andy Beshear said recently that the state is pursuing at least five projects of that magnitude.
The legislation would provide $350 million in forgivable state loans. Another $50 million would be spent on worker training to supply a skilled workforce for any eligible development. The money would be taken from the state’s budget reserve trust fund, which now has $1.9 billion.
“This puts us in the game," Adkins said in promoting the incentives. "This allows us to compete.”
Much of the attention has revolved around a 1,500-acre tract in Hardin County specifically mentioned in the legislation. The site was offered two decades ago when Kentucky was trying to land a Hyundai auto manufacturing plant that ultimately located in Alabama.
The state is promoting that mega site but is drawing considerable interest from business prospects in other locations across Kentucky, Adkins said.