Gov. Beshear delivers Team Kentucky update

Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY)
Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY)(Gov. Andy Beshear)
Published: Dec. 8, 2022 at 5:25 PM CST
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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WBKO) - Today, Gov. Andy Beshear updated Kentuckians on economic development progress; an increase in skilled trades licensing; the one-year anniversary of the deadly tornadoes in Western Kentucky; disaster recovery and rebuilding efforts in Eastern Kentucky; SAFE Fund awards; the Cleaner Water Program; internet grant awards; affordable health care coverage; protecting youth in state custody; public health and the Frankfort Christmas parade. He also named The Salvation Army, all those volunteering to ring bells as well as making donations as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars.

Economic Development Update: Gov. Beshear highlighted seven economic development projects that are expected to create nearly 6,000 jobs and represent more than $6 billion in new investment.

On Monday, Ford, and SK On celebrated progress at BlueOval SK Battery Park, where their joint venture – BlueOval SK – has invested $5.8 billion to produce advanced batteries for future Ford and Lincoln electric vehicles. Slated to start production in 2025, the project is creating 5,000 new jobs in Kentucky.

Yesterday, the Governor highlighted growth within Kentucky’s food, beverage and agritech sector as protein producer Double D Group LLC announced a $41.5 million investment to establish a production facility in Muhlenberg County, creating 200 direct full-time jobs and 40 contracted positions.

“We are looking forward to working together with the greater Greenville community to provide opportunities to the local economy,” said Mike Downs, president of Double D Group. “We are excited to become a part of the Muhlenberg County community and are striving to build a family-friendly business.”

On Tuesday, Gov. Beshear congratulated leaders of electric cable producer Prysmian Group on the ribbon-cutting of the company’s newly renovated North American headquarters in Highland Heights, a $4.7 million project that will help retain 400 employees at the location.

The Governor announced new job creation within Kentucky’s bourbon industry as Pernod Ricard USA LLC, which produces leading brands such as Jefferson’s, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Absolut Vodka, Glenlivet and Chivas Brothers, will establish a new distillery in Marion County, creating 55 full-time jobs with a $196 million investment. The project has the potential to grow to a $250 million investment across 10 years.

“Pernod Ricard is committed to our business in Kentucky, and that is why we are investing approximately $215 million over the next five years in Marion County for a distillery aging warehouse and visitor center that will add roughly 55 new full-time jobs as a result,” said Jessica Chen, vice president of operations for American Whiskies for Pernod Ricard. “We chose this location very carefully, working with local businesses and government who helped us land on Maron County – a great location, a great opportunity, and a great community for us to become a part of.”

Gov. Beshear highlighted the continued momentum of the state’s agritech and manufacturing sectors as Osmundson Mfg. Co. will locate a new facility in Graves County with a $12.5 million investment that will create 80 quality Kentucky jobs over the coming years.

“We are very excited to be in Mayfield and start the planning process and new facility itself. It’s going to be great, and I am very much looking forward to all the relationships and people that we will be dealing with in Western Kentucky,” said Osmundson Manufacturing owner Heather Bruce. “Everyone in Mayfield and Graves County has already made us feel like we are part of the family.”

“I had no idea that in just two days less than a year from the tornadoes we would have an announcement like this for our county. We are so grateful,” said Mayfield Mayor Kathy O’Nan.

“The Governor, staff, and the wonderful economic development cabinet have come through with their word,” said Graves County Judge/Executive Jesse Perry. “Our folks in Graves County, Mayfield, and Western Kentucky will be very appreciative of this. Thank you so much.”

The Governor highlighted further growth of the state’s manufacturing sector as Nationwide Uniform Corp., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fechheimer Brothers Co., announced an $11.5 million investment to expand operations in Hodgenville, creating 63 quality jobs for Kentuckians.

“We started talking about this project four or five years ago and adding a new facility next to our 60-year-old manufacturing facility in Hodgenville,” said Mark Maloney, vice president of marketing at Nationwide Uniform Apparel. “We thank the Governor, the economic development cabinet, the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and most of all we thank our employees that have been there all these years producing uniforms for our heroes.”

Gov. Beshear announced the continued momentum of the state’s bourbon industry as Kentucky Bourbon Distillers LTD, doing business as Willett Distillery, will invest nearly $93 million in Washington County to build warehouses and additional production facilities, creating 35 full-time jobs.

Skilled Trades Licensing Numbers Increasing: The Department of Housing, Buildings, and Construction is reporting an increase in licensing for electrical, plumbing, and HVAC mechanics as well as certified installers of manufactured homes. This includes a 30% increase in newly licensed journeyman HVAC mechanics and a 48% increase in newly licensed journeyman plumbers.

“Skilled trades is an area of employment that has been falling behind demand due to a statewide surge in both residential and commercial construction and general aging in the skilled workforce,” said Gov. Beshear. “These jobs provide a stable, high-demand, high-paying career that is flexible and rewarding.”

WKY One-Year Anniversary: This Saturday, Dec. 10, will be the one-year anniversary of one of the deadliest tornadoes in the commonwealth’s history, which took the lives of 81 Kentuckians.

Western Kentucky has received more than $31.8 million in federal assistance. The federal government has also provided more than $59.8 million to support local businesses and more than $42 million in Western Kentucky SAFE Act funds. Private insurance groups have also paid nearly $500 million to those insured.

The Team Western Kentucky Tornado Relief Fund received more than 150,000 donations totaling over $52.3 million. First, the money paid for each victim’s funeral. Funds were provided to insured and uninsured homeowners, renters and local farmers who were hurt by the destruction of the Mayfield Grain Co.

The fund also pledged $16 million to build 300 homes in the area. To date, 40 families have received keys to a new home built in cooperation with Homes and Hope, Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center on Housing. Additional funding is providing assistance for unmet needs such as ongoing home repairs, as well as appliance and vehicle repair and replacement in coordination with local long-term recovery groups.

“While our state’s bright future is on the horizon, we still have work to do to rebuild Western Kentucky; but we are strong,” said Gov. Beshear. “These tornadoes destroyed so much, but we have proven that while we may get knocked down, no natural disaster can break us.”

Click here to read the Governor’s op-ed.

Eastern Kentucky Flood Update: Gov. Beshear provided an update on Eastern Kentucky’s stabilization and rebuilding efforts following July’s historic floods. More than $181.4 million in grants have been approved under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for individual and household assistance, housing grants, and other needs. Over $56.6 million has been approved under the U.S. Small Business Administration. Although Disaster Recovery Centers have closed, seven Multi-Agency Resource Centers are available for face-to-face help. Visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources for more information.

Roadside debris collection has concluded. Residents with debris that could not be moved to the roadside should contact their county fiscal court for information on what assistance is available. Waterway debris removal continues.

The Governor said that Kentucky State Parks are now housing 130 people, down from the 360 people sheltered on Sept. 1. Currently, 266 households are being housed in travel trailers. There are 324 travel trailers on site in 10 different locations. Kentucky State Parks employees continue to work with local and state emergency management officials to actively transition affected families into travel trailers and long-term housing solutions.

To date, the Team Eastern Kentucky Flood Relief Fund has raised over $12.4 million from more than 41,000 donors. To contribute, click here. For other information regarding flooding in Eastern Kentucky, visit governor.ky.gov/FloodResources.

First Lady Britainy Beshear launched the Eastern Kentucky Toy Drive for children affected by July’s flooding. December 14 is the deadline to donate at most sites or mail donations to Jenny Wiley State Park. Visit FirstLady.KY.gov/ToyDrive for additional information.

EKY SAFE and WKY SAFE Fund Awards: Today, Gov. Beshear announced more awards from the Eastern Kentucky SAFE Fund to communities and public entities to support recovery efforts in counties impacted by the late July floods. This week, more than $830,000 in funding was approved for the Floyd County Fiscal Court to support the required local match for FEMA projects.

The Governor also announced more than $1.4 million in awards from the Western Kentucky SAFE Fund, including:

  • $1.2 million to the City of Mayfield for non-FEMA eligible debris removal, and
  • More than $205,000 to the Marshall County Fiscal Court, which includes over $155,000 for the required local match for FEMA projects and $50,000 to help ease strained fiscal liquidity.

Eastern Kentucky has received over $15 million in SAFE fund payments, and Western Kentucky has received over $43 million in SAFE funds to help support these communities.

Cleaner Water Program: The Governor’s Cleaner Water Program is part of a bipartisan agreement with the General Assembly to fund $250 million in water and sewer projects across Kentucky. Morton’s Gap was the first project announced under the Cleaner Water Program, and six households in the area now have clean drinking water for the first time. The Governor recently traveled to visit two of these residents, Ruth Baglin and June Vandiver. Ruth advocated for years to secure clean water. Click here to view a video from his visit.

“Many people don’t realize there are still Kentuckians who do not have access to clean water,” said Gov. Beshear. “Quality water and sewer systems make a difference for our families because they ensure a basic human right for Kentuckians. That’s a top priority for my administration, and with this program, we are making great progress.”

‘Internet for All’ Funding: Today, Gov. Beshear announced that Kentucky will receive a federal “Internet for All” grant award of $5.8 million to support the expansion of high-speed, reliable internet throughout the commonwealth. Kentucky applied for and was awarded the funding through the federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

Family Glitch Fix: Today, the Governor encouraged Kentuckians with access to health coverage from their employer, but who have not enrolled in coverage that starts in 2023, to apply for financial assistance on or after Dec. 16 to see if they are eligible for help paying for monthly plan costs.

The Internal Revenue Service announced a fix for what’s called the “family glitch” that based eligibility for a family’s premium subsidies on whether available employer insurance is affordable for the employee only, even if it is not affordable for the whole family.

This means 72,000 Kentuckians will be newly eligible for help paying monthly premiums on the state-based exchange, kynect.

Protecting Youth in State Custody: Today, Gov. Beshear furthered his commitment to safeguarding youth and staff of the Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) by announcing male juveniles will soon be housed by offender characteristics related to the potential for violent, disruptive behavior. Beginning in 2023, males 14 years or older who have been charged with a serious or violent offense will be transferred to a high-security facility.

The Governor also announced that he will soon be taking additional steps to better support the staff at DJJ detention centers by ensuring staff has protective equipment, expanding the job functions and personnel of the transportation unit, and continuing to increase recruitment and retention efforts.

This announcement comes after Gov. Beshear last week announced the first female-only juvenile detention center will open in Campbell County to better protect female youth in detention.

Health Update: The Governor also updated Kentuckians on influenza, RSV and COVID-19 in the commonwealth. Gov. Beshear said that the spread of influenza continues to increase in Kentucky. Fourteen influenza deaths have been reported for Kentucky’s current 2022-2023 influenza season. Most influenza detections in the commonwealth have been identified as Type A. The flu vaccine has been updated this year and is expected to perform well against this circulating strain.

RSV activity appears to be declining but is still causing outbreaks in Kentucky day cares and preschools. People of any age can become infected with RSV, and most recover within one to two weeks. RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults.

Gov. Beshear said that the most recent COVID-19 data appears to be increasing following Thanksgiving. He encouraged those who are eligible to get their COVID-19 vaccine booster.

Frankfort Christmas Parade and State Tree Lighting: Gov. Beshear and First Lady Britainy Beshear invited Kentuckians to view the Frankfort Christmas Parade and to join them on the South Lawn of the Capitol for the lighting of the state’s Christmas tree this Saturday, Dec. 10.

Team Kentucky All-Stars: The Governor named The Salvation Army and all those volunteering to ring bells, as well as those making donations, as this week’s Team Kentucky All-Stars. Each year, The Salvation Army raises millions of dollars to support those underserved in local communities.

“During the holiday season, we each have to do our part in helping our neighbors. I am grateful to be governor of a state that goes the extra mile to help others,” said Gov. Beshear. “This is a time of giving, and I encourage each of you to sign up and ring the bell.”

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