BOWLING GREEN, Ky (WBKO) -- Numerous weekend events in South Central Kentucky are centered around motor sports. I talked to Dave Tatman, the most recent retired Corvette Plant Manager, who says the Chamber of Commerce charted a study nearly one year ago. The study suggested there will be about 4,500 job openings in automotive manufacturing by 2016 and the number will reach nearly 9,000 by 2020.
"We have to make sure we have students prepared for those jobs when those jobs open up," said Dave Tatman, Retired Corvette Plant Manager.
To learn what South Central Kentucky needs to focus on, in order to develop these study results, the Chamber took a trip to southern Virginia. Tatman says education and business leaders are enticing students to become enthused about manufacturing jobs in their area.
"It's a lot cooler to entice students by say, let's build a race car frame, rather than saying lets learn welding," said Dave Tatman, Retired Corvette Plant Manager.
During this trip, the group learned South Central Kentucky already has a number of assets that are currently in place in Virginia's striving manufacturing area.
"We learned we already have a lot of the assets that are in place there, we already have here in Bowling Green. Now we need to start pulling them together. We went down because we are on the verge of opening the motor sports park right here on the other side of the interstate. It's a great asset, but we've got Beech Bend, National Corvette Museum, and an unbelievable number of car shows in our community. The reality is, we also have a lot of manufacturing in our community related to the automotive industry," said Dave Tatman, Retired Corvette Plant Manager.
Tatman says, now it is important to make sure our education system is producing a product that existing automotive manufacturers will want. He says, the chamber's “Leader In Me” program in local schools, has already created a jump start for this development.
"How cool would it be where five and six year olds are racing go-carts, and understanding why math matters, understanding why science matters, and how that can impact the rest of their life," said Dave Tatman, Retired Corvette Plant Manager.
Tatman says the automotive manufacturing businesses that are already grounded in South Central Kentucky, are a huge factor in the area's growth.
"We've got corvette, we've got Holley, we've got Trace Die Cast, we've got Logan Aluminum. When you ask people what they think of when they come to South Central Kentucky, they don't say cave, or rolling hills, they say cars," said Dave Tatman, Retired Corvette Plant Manager.
Tatman says the Chamber of Commerce has announced over 275 new manufacturing jobs in South Central Kentucky, just this year.