Some lawmakers concerned that current lack of skilled workers and labor unions challenge of right-to-work law could stifle economic growth in state

06/15/2017 03:37 PM

FRANKFORT – As officials with the Cabinet for Economic Development provided members of the Interim Joint Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment goals that they’ve set to spur economic growth in Kentucky, a couple of lawmakers expressed concerns with recent news.

The Economic Development Cabinet plans on developing an aggressive and targeted marketing campaign, branding Kentucky as the hub of engineering and manufacturing excellence, increasing foreign direct investment by 20 percent annually over the next 3 years, and formalize and enhance an ongoing existing industry outreach process.

Other goals include moving the commonwealth into the top quarter of business-friendly state rankings; establish a more integrated workforce delivery service system within the Cabinet for Economic Development including talent attraction and retention.

Sen. Mike Wilson, R-Bowling Green, expressed his concern with Deputy Commissioner for Business Development John Bevington about what his agency is doing about the shortage of qualified workers to fill jobs in the state.

“Right now, we have 4,500 open jobs,” Wilson said. “You’re getting companies getting into wage wars with each other and their staling employees and so there is a gap. We’re doing all of this to attract companies, but there are plenty of people that have the skills that we are looking for that live in other states that would love to live in a place like Kentucky, if they knew about it. So, what are we doing in regards to that, to attract workers to the state?”

Representative Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, questioned Bevington about how the current Kentucky AFL-CIO and Teamsters Local 89 lawsuit, which asks a judge to temporarily block the right-to-work law while the suit proceeds, could endanger Braidy Industries’ recently announced $1.3 billion investment in Greenup County.

“Is there any conversation about whether Braidy is slowing things down, or maybe reversing course, because of the frivolous actions taken by the unions to challenge that right-to-work law,” Nemes asked.

“We were actually with Mr. Bouchard (Braidy CEO) at One East Kentucky annual dinner last week and he said that certainly does create risks for them,” Bevington said.


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