As part of the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development's (KCED) Southeastern Kentucky Business & Community Forum series, Interim Secretary Vivek Sarin and members of the KCED team visited Somerset Tuesday, August 27, to share Kentucky's economic advantages and learn more about Somerset-Pulaski County's efforts to strengthen economic development.
Sarin's visit to Somerset was one of three stops during the forum. The KCED team also visited Corbin and London earlier in the week to hear from community leaders about economic development efforts in this region of the state.
The visit began with a roundtable discussion with Somerset-Pulaski Economic Development Authority (SPEDA) board of directors and staff. President and CEO Chris Girdler shared SPEDA's story and vision with the KCED team.
"We greatly appreciated the opportunity to share with Secretary Sarin and his team the momentum SPEDA has experienced in just a few short months," Girdler said. "This group has been a tremendous help not just to me, but to the community as a whole, since beginning this venture. We share a common belief, that unity and collaboration build a stronger economy. This forum series was an excellent way for us to connect with the state's economic leaders and learn how we can help accomplish that goal."
Following the roundtable discussion, the KCED team met with local business leaders considering expansion in Pulaski County. Sarin then joined a large group of community leaders in the Somerset City Council chambers to hear more about the community's strengths, needs and opportunities and learn how the Cabinet can better address them.
Sarin also addressed Pulaski County Fiscal Court during its meeting, sharing Kentucky's economic successes during the past three-and-a-half years -- including 55,000 jobs, more than $20 billion in new business investment and 1,100 new and expanded facilities -- and his desire to make Kentucky the place a new generation wants to be productive and thrive. He also shared his excitement about the innovative work being done in Pulaski County to enhance business and industry.
"I share with you all today that our success could never happen if it were not for great partners," Sarin told the court. "One of the reasons we're here locally today is not to only talk about the work that we're doing but also just to extend a word of thanks to you all."
Sarin told the court SPEDA's work to simplify economic development and cut through the red tape faster is a "visionary model."
"I'm actually very envious of the work that you're doing here locally," Sarin said. "Although it's a brand new venture and it's just getting off the ground, I would suggest to all of you to be very encouraged about the groundwork that you're laying right now.
Because we truly are just getting started and in partnership with your economic development leaders and your industry here, I personally think the future is very bright and I think we really can work together very well to help the goals of your community become a reality. It would be our privilege to continue to be doing that."