WILLIAMSON – Charles Sexton, CEO of One East Kentucky, was the guest speaker at the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce meeting, Monday Sept. 21 to discuss economic development in the Coal Fields.
One East Kentucky serves a nine county region. It is a non- profit organization that is privately funded. The goal of One East Kentucky is to recruit outside development in the area. Currently, One East Kentucky is readying four industrial parks in the nine region area.
“An industry has to have a reason to go somewhere. There has to be a site, building and utilities available to meet these needs. My job is to find projects and recruit them to this area. “
Sexton discussed his role as an economic developer for the nine regions.
“As an economic developer, I have a passion for helping others. I want to see people better their selves. Our goal is to aggressively recruit new industry to this region from the outside,” Sexton said.
Sexton previously worked with Paducah Ky., to develop their workforce. “In three years, we created 1,200 new jobs in one county,” Sexton said. “We built the organization from the ground up,” Sexton continued.
“I am here to set these things up and be a resource for your Chamber (Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce) and Pikeville’s Chamber,” Sexton continued.
Currently, one project that One East Kentucky is working on is developing a workforce assessment. This assessment will provide workforce data for 33 counties in Kentucky. This will also overlap into Mingo because of the close proximity to Pikeville.
“Companies want a skilled workforce that is easily trainable. The people in this region provide an opportunity for them to fulfill that want,” Sexton said.
Sexton explained that the decline in the coal industry has left behind a workforce that includes skilled laborers such as heavy equipment operators, welders and machinists.
Sexton also discussed the importance of diversifying the economy in this area. “We need to focus on diversifying the economy. You don’t want all your eggs in one industry. You don’t want to depend on one industry. We have already learned from that,” Sexton explained.
According to Sexton, promoting the area in a positive manner is another aspect that needs focus.
“A lot of regions are down on their self. This area is beautiful. You have great transportation, great utilities, and a superb workforce. You have a lot of offer. Always promote the area in a positive, upbeat manner,” Sexton said.
For more information about One Easy Kentucky, visit www.oneeastky.com
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2279.)