Growing Western Part 2

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The percentage of college graduates in Daviess County has fallen in recent years from 18 to 14 percent. As a community trying to attract new businesses, it becomes extremely difficult when you're competing with other communities in the state, region or even nation that have much higher numbers of graduates.

"In order to be vital and be successful we have to have an educated society and that's the focus we're moving towards," said Reid Haire, Daviess County judge Executive.

Talk to Haire, and he'll tell you, even though the Bluegrass is making strides towards increasing the number of college graduates in the state, Kentucky is still fighting an up-hill battle.

"One of the things we need to do, not just in Owensboro, but across the state, is talk about the number of graduates you have in Kentucky. That is significantly lower than it is nationwide," Haire said.

"For Kentucky to be economically viable we have to increase statewide the number of college graduates we have because we don't compare with Ohio, Indiana, Missouri or California with the percentage of our population that have degrees."

A community with a university, brings a lot more than just college graduates, it has the potential to bring an economic boom to the area.

"Often time in today's world knowledge based jobs, knowledge based economy. Much economic activity spins along with the university in a community," Nick Brake said.

And economic growth is what Daviess County and Owensboro are hoping will come to town when WKU adds an extension campus in Owensboro.

"You want headquarters of a company to be in Bowling Green, Ky., or Owensboro, Ky., because that's where the life blood is, that's where the opportunities come," Haire said.

According to the website with the exception of West Virginia, every state bordering Kentucky has a higher graduation rate than the Commonwealth.