Is Kentucky Getting Serious About Infrastructure Investments?

By Ed Green
P3KY Editor

With the Kentucky General Assembly in session, there has been a lot more talk and a little action around making significant infrastructure investments in Kentucky. The real question is whether this flurry of activity will turn into real action before the clock runs out in Frankfort.

In recent days, leaders of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce have called for pro-growth policies that drive economic growth.

“Infrastructure — especially roads, bridges and airports — is particularly important to Kentucky’s economy because of the commonwealth’s prime location,” Kentucky Chamber CEO Dave Adkission wrote in a recent op-ed. “As the Cabinet for Economic Development notes, Kentucky sits at the center of a 34-state distribution area in the eastern United States. This facilitates the distribution of goods and materials to a massive industrial and consumer market.”

Brent Cooper, president and CEO of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, added these thoughts in his recent opinion piece: “States we are competing with are investing in their infrastructure, making their economies more competitive. You don’t have to go far to see what I mean. Indiana and Tennessee recently increased their investments in infrastructure. Ohio is considering the same right now.”

These business leaders have goals that are aligned – making smart investments that pay off for businesses and taxpayers in Kentucky. And, according to a recent report, there may be no better investment than infrastructure. The Hill reported this week that a nationalBusiness Roundtable study found that that every additional dollar invested in infrastructure delivers roughly $3.70 in additional economic growth over a period of 20 years. That’s the type of growth these business leaders are seeking.

Kentucky had a small victory when HB 517, a bill sponsored by Rep. Sal Santoro, R-Florence, was introduced to inject funding into much-needed road and bridge improvements – investments that have safety and economic development implications. That bill is still being considered by the legislature.

However, infrastructure investment isn’t limited to roads. To remain a Best Place to Liveand do business, Kentucky will have to raise its infrastructure grade from a C-minusby investing in airports (also a great return on investment), drinking water, wastewater and sewers, and energy infrastructure. 

Only time will tell is this upbeat in talk will turn to increased action – and investment in Kentucky’s future. 

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