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Kentucky recognized for economic growth as tornado recovery efforts continue

Gov. Andy Beshear stands at a podium with a flag and a banner saying Team Kentucky behind him.
Corinne Boyer
KY Gov. Andy Beshear delivers his 250th and final regular coronavirus briefing.

Several communities across Kentucky placed in the top 10 for economic development and growth in Site Selection magazine’s Governor’s Cup which annually ranks cities, communities and states based on their economic growth.

“The commonwealth placed first in the south-central region for economic development projects per capita and third nationally,” Gov. Andy Beshear said at a press conference Thursday.

Multiple Kentucky cities and communities also placed high in rankings.

Louisville ranked seventh in economic projects per capita for metropolitan areas with a population of more than one million. Bowling Green, Elizabethtown and Fort Knox placed in the top ten for projects in cities with fewer than 200,000 people. 

Frankfort was ranked number one for cities with populations between 10,000 to 50,000 for the south-central region and was ranked seventh nationally. 

Other communities to be recognized throughout the rankings were:

  • Guthrie 
  • Bardstown
  • Danville
  • Paducah
  • Glasgow
  • Somerset
  • Madisonville 
  • Mount Sterling

Beshear said that the rankings show the widespread economic development efforts across the state.

“56% of our [economic] announcements in 2021 were located in rural counties,” Beshear said. “This is what has to be our goal: being on the cusp of a new era of prosperity. It has to reach every area of Kentucky.”

Beshear also gave updates on the recovery effort in western Kentucky after December’s devastating tornadoes.

Kentucky Emergency Management has taken over management of the emergency housing program for people impacted by tornadoes in hotels. 

The governor provided a breakdown of the exact number of how people are split among temporary housing options:

  • 121 individuals from 31 households occupying 32 travel trailers
  • 239 from 124 households occupying hotel rooms
  • 252 from 92 households occupying state parks

Beshear said that the state is working on consolidating people who are living in state parks.

“The consolidation allows sheltered guests to transition to medium-term housing, which are self-sufficient family units that have more room and amenities, like kitchens,” Beshear said. 

People will be moved from the parks’ state lodge rooms into cabins, and from hotels to medium-term housing like travel trailers and cottages.

Beshear said the move marks a change from focusing on emergent needs, like getting a driver's license, to getting things back to “normal”.

This includes releasing $5.7 million from the Team Western Kentucky relief funds to residents. These funds will go towards around 5,000 renters and homeowners in western Kentucky.

“There are people who were insured in their home or their apartments, and this is a payment to help them with the deductible that they paid,” Beshear said. 

People can receive up to $2,500, but it is dependent on how much deductible was paid.

Uninsured Kentuckians were already able to apply for assistance from the fund.

Beshear said future plans for the funds include working with nonprofits who have more experience in rebuilding efforts. 

He encouraged all affected residents to apply for FEMA relief.

As tornado recovery efforts continue, the state appears to be recovering from the omicron-fueled COVID-19 spike.

Numbers across several metrics, including hospitalizations and ICU patients, have dropped and continue to decrease. 

“We have the lowest number of Kentuckians on a ventilator because of COVID since July of 2021,” Beshear said.

There has, however, been a decline in new COVID-19 vaccinations, which Beshear attributed to people contracting coronavirus and having to wait to get vaccinated. He also pointed to the number of people already vaccinated as a reason for the decrease. 

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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