Diversified economy has sheltered us

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By The Staff

The troubled global economic climate continues to have an affect on our local economy.

While we are very concerned and must not forget about those who have lost their jobs, Taylor County continues to have the lowest unemployment rate in our labor market area.

Our November 2008 rate was at 5.9 percent. One nearby community is at 9.6 percent. The December 2008 rates will not be released for several more weeks.

Our more diversified economy has somewhat sheltered us from the financial downturn thus far. We are still fairing better than most of Kentucky and the U.S. The local economy is no longer solely dependent on manufacturing.

While some of our automotive and housing related industries have had layoffs, most all of our service sector businesses have been able to retain their current workforce. Fortunately, our county's largest service sector employer had its best holiday season ever.

In addition, our community has a university, a regional hospital and great school systems that provide a strong employment foundation.

Infrastructure work is continuing at Heartland Commerce and Technology Park. The Heartland Parkway study has been taken off "pause" and this project is under way again. Also, our county's population continues to show steady growth.

Contacts have been made on the state and national levels seeking any available workforce development funding. A skills gap analysis was conducted with our existing businesses. This information will help in expanding local job training options with new innovative programs. Job training is more important now than ever.

One of Team Taylor County's team members, Campbellsville University, is studying how it can assist in this effort by offering more technical training options through the CU Technology Training Center. In addition, CU is offering discounted tuition for those who have become unemployed since Sept. 1, 2008.

Because the opportunity for new locations and expansions might be limited for some time into 2009, we are focusing on existing business retention - helping keep as many business operating as possible. Our goal is to identify and help solve any red flag issues a company is having.

If we can make doing business in Taylor County and Kentucky easier by knowing our company's market and issues, we have been successful. We are concerned about and committed to all sectors of our local economy.

- Ron McMahan is the executive director of the Taylor County Economic Development Authority. Contact him at ron@teamtaylorcounty.com.