Making a grand entrance to Bruno Mars’ “24K Magic,” Mayor Alan Keck of Somerset took the stage at Pulaski County’s Center for Rural Development to introduce AppHarvest CEO Jonathan Webb at the Stand Up Rural America Summit on Wednesday.
Before Keck introduced Webb however, he addressed the residents of Somerset and visitors from abroad to communicate his vision for Somerset.
Keck began the speech with the intention of “changing the narrative of Rural America.”
Keck claims that before he took office that Somerset had grown “quite stale” and implied the city’s collective drive was dormant.
“We lacked vision. We lacked boldness. We lacked innovation. and we had gotten comfortable with the status quo,” Keck said to the attendees. “In many ways you could say, we were a community of ‘No.’”
Keck noted the ways Somerset has changed over the years citing Somerset’s celebration of its art, agriculture, and a “tremendous” commerce section.
He also praised how Somerset’s music scene has flourished and the tourism surrounding Lake Cumberland.
Keck also took time to mention how Somerset has progressed in putting women in the workplace.
“It’s been lead by small businesses,” he said. “Many of them female owned and operated, and as a dad of three young girls, I’m really proud of that, because we want to make sure that Somerset is a place where everybody feels that they can thrive and succeed.”
Keck also boasted how Somerset’s crime rate has fallen, and called Somerset the safest city in America. He attributed the drop in crime to the work he’s done with Somerset Police Department Chief William Hunt.
Keck followed this section of his speech with a video reiterating the progress Somerset has made and putting more emphasis on the city’s agricultural advancements.
The video also further showed off Somerset’s industrial growth and its contribution to the state’s chief cash-making sectors.
“The hardworking people in this community are contributing to Kentucky’s signature industries: automotive, aerospace, hardwood flooring, and many more. Industry that few cities our size can stake claim to.”
The video concluded with the line: “We brighten the Bluegrass with an influence of our own. A unique spice. A one-of-a-kind color. Somerset is special and is the spirit of Southern Kentucky.”
Following the video, Keck spoke on the growth of Somerset’s downtown area calling it the heartbeat for the community and crediting the growth to the small and large businesses that have moved into the city.
He gave the statistic that, despite the global pandemic, Somerset posted record revenue over the past three years.
The speech overall focused on what Keck said is his commitment to expanding the city’s business sector and his belief in what he considers to be the city’s cultural heritage.