By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Governor Andy Beshear has big plans for Kentucky’s economic growth, particularly in future facing and technology based manufacturing like electric vehicle batteries. But that growth is going to require new building projects, he noted, and the carpenters who help build out those locations might very well be trained at a new training facility in Grayson.
Beshear was in town last Tuesday to help break ground at the new Indiana Kentucky Ohio Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights (IKORCC) training center along the Industrial Parkway east of Grayson.
Beshear began his remarks by acknowledging the hardships the commonwealth has faced since he took office, including severe weather emergencies, the pandemic, out of pace inflation, and the recent shootings in Louisville, which he described as “senseless violence that even took the life of one of my closest friends.”
“But I know here in Kentucky, we will do what we do,” he continued. “We will wrap our arms around those that are hurting. We will help lift them up. And we will march on forward to a better future together. Because what we see here in Kentucky is, even during these times of great difficulty, we have still been able to do the work to lead us to time of great prosperity.”
He noted that in 2021 the commonwealth, “didn’t just break, we shattered every economic development record in the books that year, creating more investment and more jobs than this state has ever seen; which means we can create a better future for our kids than many of us could have imagined.”
Beshear went on to explain that by focusing on the next trends in manufacturing, to meet the changing needs of the automotive industry and others, the state could reverse the “brain drain” they’ve suffered by having the smartest and most capable young people recruited for work outside the region and turn it into a “brain gain” drawing them back to the region and allowing the talented engineers and skilled tradesmen of the next generation to work closer to home.
“When people say, ‘Where are our workers going to come from?’ (the IKORCC is) stepping up and saying, ‘We’re going to train them right here in Grayson.’ That is why we’re going to celebrate the groundbreaking of a 15,000 square foot expansion of this training facility, which will allow the council to grow and improve the training here. To let even more folks, maybe some of the high school students we have here today, become the very best at what they do.”
“This is so important to me as governor,” Beshear continued, “because I believe far too often we’re focused on things going on in Washington D.C. and not focused on the question and the concerns that our families ask every night… like ‘Do I have a good job? One where I can raise my family the way that I wish that I’d been raised?’ Questions like, ‘Can I afford to take my parents or my kids to the doctor when they’re sick?’ And you know what? You shouldn’t have to drive for hours to get the services that you need. Questions like, ‘Do I feel safe in my home and in my community?’ Questions like, ‘Are my kids getting the best education?’”
The “great news” he said, is that the state is “answering those questions in partnership with this council.”
“We are creating more jobs, more good jobs, than we have ever seen in a two or three year period in the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” he said, adding that “eastern Kentucky deserves its share” of that expansion and growth.
Jerry Yates, assistant director of the Kentucky region with the IKORCC, said that the impact of the training facility was a huge boon for the community. He said that having “the labor force to build
that future economy” in Grayson is more than a big deal.
“It’s actually a very huge deal,” Yates said. “Our apprenticeship here has grown from withing a six-year period, from just over a hundred to just over 700 today, which is massive.”
“This is going to actually enable us to grow even further,” he continued. “So, as we grow, we’re going to expand. That’s where these 15,000 square feet are coming from, to help us do that. We’ve got to grow more, and we’re going to look at growing more.”
He also commented on the governor’s comments about the brain drain and – a longtime passion of his own – enabling our kids to find good paying work close to home.
“So many people we’ve known over the years, that we went to school with, grew up with, left here because there wasn’t enough work here; or the work that was here, we were losing it day after day. Our economy was going away. So, with what’s going on now, we’re enabling individuals to be able to get the training through the carpenters and the millwrights to be able to live here. They may have to be driving some distance to the jobs, but the jobs are getting closer to us and we’re training them. That way they can have a better life. It’s a career path.”
And, as the governor noted, the people trained at the IKORCC facility are building the facilities for industry that enables other kids to stay close to home while finding good paying jobs as well.
“We lost a lot of it, but we’re building it back,” Yates said.
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