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By SARAH BEACH
Six counties joined forces last Thursday to expand local businesses and employment.
The judge-executives from Carroll, Gallatin, Henry, Oldham, Owen and Trimble counties have been meeting together to form the I-71 Kentucky Corridor Regional Task Force, Inc.
The judge-executives for those counties are Carroll County Judge-Executive Harold “Shorty” Tomlinson, Gallatin County Judge-Executive Ken McFarland, Henry County Judge-Executive John Logan Brent, Oldham County Judge-Executive David Voegele, Owen County Judge- Executive Carolyn Keith, and Trimble County Judge-Executive Randy Stevens.
Each of these officials will rotate through a one-year cycle alphabetically as president of the organization. Since Carroll County is first alphabetically, Judge-Executive Tomlinson was chosen as the first president, with Gallatin County Judge-Executive McFarland serving as the secretary-treasurer.
The first item the Task Force will undertake is to widen Interstate 71 to six lanes between Boone and Jefferson counties. This expansion is expected to aid with industry traffic in the area. A 1.2 million budget has already been approved for planning funds as part of District 6’s six-year plan. Districts 5 and 6 are partnering in this effort. (Carroll County and 10 other counties are located in the district).
Carroll County Community Development Corporation Executive Director Joan Moore is excited about the opportunities this will bring to the area. This is “a real positive,” she said. She said it is a significant benefit for the community because of the economic support it will provide.
Many areas are organized regionally now, so it is important for Carroll County to become involved regionally, Moore said.
The organization of the six counties will see a marriage of urban and rural in this area, as well as unity among Democratic and Republican officials, Tomlinson said. The area is home to counties like Oldham, which is more suburban, as well as some areas which are more remote, he said.
“We have to change with the times,” Tomlinson said. “… We have some things very much in common” with the other counties, and it is important to utilize the assets we have in the region, like General Butler State Park in Carroll and the Kentucky Speedway in Gallatin, he said. Regional partnerships have been successful in other places, he said, and he hopes this will give the area “more leverage” in the Kentucky General Assembly to receive funding.
Additionally, the judge-executive believes it is important to encourage education in the area. Because this region is home to a branch of Jefferson Community Technical College, there are many students coming from the six different counties to receive an education. The new partnership is expected to help facilitate more funding for the school.
The Task Force also is looking for a regional coordinator and is currently accepting applications. This coordinator will be primarily responsible for identifying and cataloguing economic development sites in the region, maintaining and coordinating economic and industrial data, overseeing the start of a regional website with this information, and implementing strategies for business retention, expansion, and recruitment, according to the CCCDC news release.
Additionally, the Task Force is “looking for a person with at least three years of experience,” Moore said. This will be a “demanding job,” she said, and the person will need to spend equal amounts of time in each of the involved counties.
Applicant resumes will be accepted through June 23.
The Task Force’s next meeting has been scheduled for June 27. The six judge-executives have been meeting for only a year. This is a short time to be this far along in the process of beginning a non-profit organization, Moore said.
The judges are “good people,” Tomlinson said, and want the same kinds of things for each of the counties in the Task Force.
His hope is that “we can sell this region” in this new effort to foster businesses in the six-county area.