Bevin: Those who 'hustle' succeed in grabbing economic advantage

Carla Slavey

Governor Matt Bevin addressed the Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) at its annual conference, being held this week at the Center for Rural Development. With the conference being held on Election Day, Bevin urged those who had not yet to go vote, saying it was important to have leaders "who will hustle for you."

Governor Matt Bevin channeled his inner basketball coach while addressing a group of Kentucky's top economic development professionals Tuesday, constantly imploring them to "hustle" to get out ahead of the other teams.

The governor's address - the keynote speech at the Kentucky Proud Luncheon, held on the second day of the Collaboration Conference held by the Kentucky Association for Economic Development (KAED) - ironically lined up with Election Day.

Rather than use the platform as a last-minute bid to win the Republican nomination for the governor's race, however, Bevin used part of his time to simply tell the members of the crowd how important their votes are.

"You want people who will hustle for you," he explained.

"It matters that you vote. There is no perfect person at any level, but at your local level, there are policies that are in place or not in place because of the people you elect to office," Bevin said.

The KAED conference is a three-day event, hosted this year at the Center for Rural Development and sponsored by the newly-formed Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA). The event is used by business professionals from around the state to network, discuss concepts and participate in various informational sessions.

Bevin's talk married the importance of voting with how those votes translate into improving Kentucky's economic spot on the world's stage.

He warned that sitting around passively, waiting for the opportunity to come to us, means that the state would continue to be "out-hustled" by our neighbors as in recent years.

"People are making decisions on your behalf that affect your ability as economic development people to attract people to your community," Bevin said.

"If it is easier to get to 'yes' than anywhere else, people will come here first. If it's easier to get to 'no' anywhere else, they will come here first. Why? Because time is money. There is an opportunity cost associated with delay."

He said that Kentucky was "dusting off" the potential for taking on the title of the best place in the United States to create a new product from the ground up.

Just as most people consider the best European country for manufacturing to be Germany, Bevin said he wanted to see Kentucky become the place people talk about for North America.

"We have to have the products readily available here for people to make things out of. We have to have the engineers here," he said.

That is brought about, he said, through education and infrastructure - bringing the ability for students to learn the correct career development directly to those students.

It is also brought about by thinking globally - "hustling" to prove to overseas markets like China that Kentucky is a place to invest in.

"We talk about trade deficits needing to be closed with nations around the world. They are going to be closed by investing capital here, building plants here, employing people here, building products here," he said.

Those trade deficits will be resolve, he promised, "because between us and China, for example, is 40 percent of the world's GDP. We're going to resolve it, we can't do without them, they can't do without us. It will be resolved… and when it is, those who have been hustling are going to win."

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