HAZARD — The City of Hazard and the Perry County Economic Development Board received grants on Tuesday from Kentucky Power totaling 81,000 dollars to fund sewer upgrades for the Coalfields Industrial Park and encourage economic development.
“We at Kentucky Power take great pride in collaborating with local, regional and state organizations to support and promote economic growth in the communities we serve in Eastern Kentucky,” said Greg Pauley, Kentucky Power president, “These grants are one way we are doing what we can to be a partner for progress in the development of our region and in adding meaningful, sustainable and good paying jobs.”
The City of Hazard is the recipient of 56,000 dollars, while the Perry County Economic Development Board is the recipient of 25,000 dollars. The funds will allow the Coal Fields Regional Industrial Park in Hazard to double its sewer capacity, something that City Manager Grady Varney said is needed to attract new business to the park. The Perry County Economic Development Board plans to use its grant to recruit businesses to locate in the area and for other economic development efforts.
This is the second time in March that organizations have visited the Perry County Courthouse to discuss grants that can help with economic development. Earlier in the month, a meeting was conducted by a coordinator with the Promise Zone initiative to discuss possible ways a proposed 228 million dollars allocated for Southeast Kentucky by the federal government could be put to use for economic development in Perry County.
The Promise Zone money requires strict focus and planning because there is no set dollar amount reserved specifically for Perry County. To sum it up briefly, projects within the eight-county Promise Zone region will compete for that money. So solid planning and fiscal responsibility are keys to ensuring that Perry County receives a fair share of the pot.
The Kentucky Power Grants deserve great focus and productive planning, as well, because this money is also awarded through competition to projects that apply within the 20-county region Kentucky Power serves and these grants are partially funded by Kentucky Power investors. This money is an investment in Perry County, and when investments are made, what investors ultimately hope to see are positive returns. If profits are generated, the potential for further investment increases. Increasing profits that lead to further investment is the basic idea behind economic stimulation. Kentucky Power found The City of Hazard’s idea to upgrade sewer capacity at the Industrial Park and the Economic Development Committee’s strategic planning to be attractive, and thus these generous grants were awarded.
The grants are among the first to be funded through the Kentucky Economic Development Surcharge approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission in 2015. For every 15 cents collected monthly from customers, company stockholders match the customer contributions dollar for dollar to generate 600,000 dollars annually for investment at the local and regional levels in the 20 counties served by Kentucky Power.
“These grants are awarded on a competitive basis and are meant to assist with the funding of economic development projects that promote the creation and retention of jobs in Eastern Kentucky,” said Brad Hall, Kentucky Power’s external affairs manager for economic development, “The funds are meant to foster development in our area.”
City Commissioner Grady Varney was present along with Betsy Clemons, Janice King and Charlene Miller to receive the checks from Kentucky Power representatives on the steps of the courthouse Tuesday morning. Judge Executive Scott Alexander and Magistrate Ronald Combs were also on site to show appreciation for Kentucky Power’s investment.
After they handed out the checks, the representatives from Kentucky Power then attended the monthly Perry County Fiscal Court meeting to inform the citizens of their actions and accept any questions or comments the people might have, as is the proper protocol of a public meeting. Greg Pauley gave an in depth demonstration, using power-point slides, which thoroughly described how money is received and spent within the Kentucky Power grants program. He then answered all questions delivered by those in the meeting’s attendance.
Sam Neace can be reached at 606-629-3243 or on Twitter @HazardHerald.