What Works Best - Regional vs. Individual Economic Development?

What Works Best - Regional vs. Individual Economic Development? Main Photo

26 Oct 2020


For years community leaders have asked what works best - regional or individual community economic development. The answer is not straightforward because there are many factors that must be considered, including population size, budget, staffing resources and the overall strategy. In Eastern Kentucky, at least part of the answer was clear - a regional group was necessary to maximize local opportunities, whether as the only economic developer in an area or working in conjunction with other local organizations. But, for this regional group to be effective it needed to have a clear vision and purpose. This is why One East Kentucky was born - to fulfill the specific purpose of creating jobs in Eastern Kentucky. And it’s an objective that gets more important every day. 

Eastern Kentucky has the people and the talent to support all types of industries. Land is available, the infrastructure is strong and the community is actively pro-business. The challenge is that most site selectors and business executives never consider the region as an option for their expansion projects. Not, because it isn’t a viable one, but because they have never been here. There’s simply a lack of awareness. One East Kentucky is working to change that for all of the communities it serves. 

As former Governor Paul Patton said, “You can’t wait for businesses to come to you. You have to go and get them.” Gov. Patton sits on the board of One East Kentucky and is passionate about the work being done. “One East Kentucky is getting out there and meeting with people from across the United States, Canada and even Europe. They are having conversations about our region and its working. That’s why Dajcor is here.”

Other local leaders also see this regional approach as effective because they see it as necessary to recruit jobs to Eastern Kentucky, period. “It is vital for the region to have a strategic plan for recruiting industry into the area. The One East Kentucky organization has shown since inception that it is capable of turning a vision into a strategy that ultimately leads to jobs in the region. In short, One East Kentucky is providing a solution that I want to lend my time to and be a part of,” said Board Member, James Ayers, Executive Vice President of Inez Deposit Bank. 

Ultimately, economic development is important whether it is done by a regional or individual group. Still, as One East Kentucky travels and virtually prospects companies to come to the area, they are proving that a proactive strategic approach is what’s needed to create jobs in Eastern Kentucky. 

Learn more about this regional approach here or click to support One East Kentucky and their goal of creating jobs in the region.