10:27pm

Mon November 21, 2011
Business and the Economy

LEX-LOU Economic Alliance Launched

The effort to link Lexington and Louisville together economically officially moved out of the gate today.  The move to push advanced manufacturing in both Lexington and Louisville comes from their two mayors.  The Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement Board met for the first time in Frankfort. They’re pursuing a model promoted by the Brookings Institute, which is a think tank.

   Amy Liu (LEW) is the institute’s spokeswoman.

“This is fundamentally about markets..about the economy so we need to understand…what is the market position of this 20 county region..what are its strengths..its assets and what is driving those dynamics,” said Liu.

Joining in the effort are some of the region’s larger employers…U-P-S, Ford, General Motors, Lexmark, and Toyota.  While the President of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Kentucky doesn’t expect this collaboration to result in plant expansion, Wil James says it could attract related manufacturers to the Lexington-Louisville corridor.

“So maybe this might spin off the opportunity for some additional suppliers to come into the region…I don’t see any expansion of our site in the immediate future,” added James.

The engineering schools at the Universities of Kentucky and Louisville will be deeply involved in this effort.  U-K Dean of Engineering Tom Lester says it’ll be their job to train the workforce needed by these new employers.

“The workforce especially the workforce at the technician level and the associate degree in this state needs to be greatly improved in this state.. provide manufacturers with the skilled trades people to run these advanced manufacturing facilities,” said Lester.

U-of-L Dean of Engineering Neville Pinto says the current supply of engineering students does not satisfy market needs.  While labor is not officially represented on the board, chairman Jim Host says input from unions will be sought during throughout the process.