PRESTONSBURG – Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes continued her advocacy for Kentucky businesses today, rebuffing Fla. Gov. Rick Scott’s mission to lure businesses from the Commonwealth and highlighting the importance of broadband and expanding the Mountain Parkway at her “Kentucky Means Business” forum in Floyd County on Wednesday.
“Despite what Gov. Scott claims, Kentucky jobs are not flowing into Florida, and I would put our pro-business climate up against the sunshine state’s any day,” said Grimes, Kentucky’s chief business officer. “We have worked too hard to encourage job growth and lower our unemployment rate to let him jeopardize our middle class.”
Since taking office in 2012, Grimes has helped grow Kentucky’s economy and give the green light to small businesses. In addition to expanding and improving the Business One Stop Portal, she has supported legislation that creates online crowdfunding opportunities in Kentucky and approves new generation cooperative associations to encourage development in the agriculture and energy industries.
Grimes’ efforts have helped more than 100,000 new businesses register to do business in the state during her first term.
The Floyd County forum was the ninth in a series of ten stops on Grimes’ “Kentucky Means Business” listening tour. Participants discussed a variety of issues, such as the availability of broadband, the Mountain Parkway expansion project, the coal industry and tourism opportunities.
“We must protect our good coal jobs and fight to rebuild the coal industry in Kentucky. I will continue to be outspoken and forceful in that effort,” said Grimes, Kentucky’s chief business officer. “But we must also recognize the urgent need to diversify the economy of Eastern Kentucky in order to create new sources of good jobs and opportunity.
“In order to connect this region to economic growth, we must have connectivity, and that means expanded broadband width is critically important. And we must have first-rate infrastructure to link Eastern Kentucky to markets elsewhere, which is why extension of the Mountain Parkway is a top priority,” Grimes added. “And that’s not all. We must explore other opportunities, from tourism to space technology, to capitalize on the abundant resources and the reservoir of hard-working people in this region of our state.”
Participants at the forum included University of Pikeville Chancellor and former Governor Paul Patton, Prestonsburg Mayor Les Stapleton, Salyersville Mayor Pete Shepherd, Big Sandy Area Development District Associate Denise Thomas, Southeast Kentucky Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Brett Traver, One East Kentucky CEO Chuck Sexton, Kentucky Career Center Operations Administrator Trina Allen, and representatives from Big Sandy Community and Technical College.
“Eastern Kentucky has a lot to offer both the state and national economies,” said Patton. “I appreciate Secretary Grimes bringing together leaders from various sectors of the community to discuss how we can continue moving the region forward.”
The forum was held at the East Kentucky Science Center, highlighting Kentucky’s largest export industry—aerospace. In 2014, Kentucky shipped $7.8 billion in aerospace parts and products, a 30 percent increase since 2013.
During her first term as Secretary of State, Grimes has successfully sought more than ten bipartisan pieces of legislation – more than any other constitutional officer during the same time frame – to make Kentucky more business friendly and safeguard access to the ballot box.