Governor Beshear Emphasizes Economic Development, Tornado Relief and Public Safety Improvements

Governor Beshear provides Kentucky team update on Thursday

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ/PRESS RELEASE) – Governor Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on Thursday on economic development, tornado relief, public safety and COVID-19. Prior to the Kentucky Derby 148, he also recognized the state’s hospitality industry as Team Kentucky All-Stars.

Governor celebrates continued economic momentum
Governor Beshear thanked four companies for their commitments to Kentucky as our economy thrives.
This week, Governor Beshear and Novelis executives broke ground on the aluminum producer’s new recycling center in Guthrie, Todd County, a $365 million investment creating 140 well-paying jobs for Kentuckians.

Also this week, ElectraMet company executives cut the ribbon on a $6 million relocation and expansion project in Lexington to expand the company’s water treatment technologies and capabilities.
Boston-based Fidelity Investments just announced a major nationwide growth initiative, with plans to create more than 12,000 new jobs by the end of the year. Governor Beshear said 874 of those jobs are coming to Northern Kentucky. Since its first location in Covington in 1992, Fidelity Investments has grown significantly with more than 4,800 professionals currently employed in this key region of Kentucky. In 2021 alone, Fidelity created 1,310 jobs in Kentucky.

During last week’s Team Kentucky update, Governor Beshear highlighted the Casey Jones Distillery expansion in Christian County, a $1.9 million investment that will create 15 full-time jobs for local residents.

Today, Casey Jones Distillery Partner Cody Turner joined Governor Beshear to share more details: “Our $2 million investment could not have happened without the help of this administration and the help of our local economic development center. We hope to impact the state and our communities, and certainly the livelihoods of the jobs we will create over the next few years. If you are in our corner of the country, which we like to call a little slice of heaven, come to the distillery, stop for a tour, sample some of our award-winning moonshines, bourbons and barrel cuts and see for yourself- even the growth that is to come.

$6.1 million for tornado recovery
Today, Governor Beshear announced a second round of awards from the West Kentucky State Aid Funding for Emergencies (SAFE) fund. The more than $6.1 million in assistance announced today will go to seven western Kentucky cities, counties and utilities to help with recovery costs from the devastating December 2021 tornadoes.

“Our communities in Western Kentucky need our help as they continue to rebuild after the tornadoes that cost them so much last December,” Governor Beshear said. “These funds will help cover expenses and services that are not eligible for FEMA assistance, and they will help alleviate some of the financial burdens these communities have endured.”

The $6.1 million announced today will cover the local 5.2% share of eligible FEMA expenses. Today’s funding awards include more than $2.8 million for the City of Mayfield, and Mayfield Electric & Water Systems will receive more than $2 million. The Caldwell County Tax Court is expected to receive nearly $200,000. The City of Dawson Springs will receive over $121,000. Marshall County Tax Court will receive more than $811,000. The City of Bowling Green will receive over $44,000. Hickman County Tax Court will receive more than $17,000. Last week, Governor Beshear announced that Hopkins County would receive the first round of SAFE funding.

“We want to thank Governor Beshear, Senator Howell and others who have worked diligently to establish SAFE funds for Kentucky’s tornado-ravaged counties,” Hickman County Judge/Executive said, Kenny Wilson. “Being able to use funds for our FEMA match is very important for a small county like ours. Our hope going forward is to tap more into SAFE funds to add additional emergency sirens to our county and make much needed upgrades. for better radio communications for our first responders and emergency service providers. We really appreciate your help.”

Governor Beshear recommended the allocation of the SAFE fund, and the 2022 General Assembly supported the aid by passing Senate Bill 150, which the governor signed into law on April 15.

The Kentucky Division of Emergency Management continues to receive additional requests for SAFE funding, which it carefully reviews to ensure funds are utilized to their fullest extent. KYEM anticipates that additional funding will soon be made available to some of these same entities.

Public security institutions improve recruitment and retention after salary increases
Today, Governor Beshear reported positive updates regarding recruitment and retention from the Kentucky State Police (KSP) and adult and youth correctional facilities across the Commonwealth:
Since January 2022, the Department of Corrections Services (DOC) has had only one state prison staff resign due to salary;
For months, the DOC has experienced correctional officer vacancy rates of 60-70%. Today, several prisons are in the range of 30-40 percent vacancies for officers, which the governor says is still higher than he wants, but an improvement;
The Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) is also seeing an increase in staff retention and new hires at its facilities in rural areas;
The KSP 102 cadet class – which is expected to start in June 2022 – is expected to start with 80 or more recruits.

“Both DOC and DJJ attested that the 10% increase we gave to security staff in December, then the locality and shift bonus given to DOC, as well as some rank changes for additional staff DJJ facilities, and the recent announcement of the 8% raise for all state employees – are the reasons we are starting to see staffing shortages diminish,” Governor Beshear said. “KSP Commissioner Phillip Burnett, Jr. said that due to troop increases, the agency estimates it could potentially return to the historic troop count of 1,006 within five years. Our staff deserve to be paid competitively for the work they do, and I’m proud to support them.

COVID-19 Update
The governor said there has been an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past week, with four counties now in yellow. However, he said the state is not seeing a noticeable increase in hospitalizations. He thanked all Kentuckians who have been vaccinated, especially those between the ages of 65 and 74 — in that age group, 98% of people have been vaccinated.

Kentucky All-Star Team
Ahead of the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, Governor Beshear honored the Commonwealth hospitality industry as Team Kentucky All-Stars.

“The Kentucky Derby is a time when the world turns to Churchill Downs. Everyone’s focus is on the horses, the trainers and the owners, and of course the hats, but what often goes unnoticed are those who work tirelessly to make the Derby the special tradition that it is,” Governor Beshear said. “The kind of hospitality we provide, from the track to our hotels, restaurants, rideshare drivers and many more – Friends, I’m proud of the work you do every day. With our state on a roll, I hope you are as excited as I am about the possibilities for our children and grandchildren.