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Fiscal Court hears workforce report from Industrial Foundation

 

Hancock County Industrial Foundation Director Mike Baker told Fiscal Court Monday the shortage of qualified, capable workers will be an issue not only for local industry but also for the state for some time to come.

The unemployment rate for the county dropped from five percent in January 2021 to 2.8 percent in January 2022. Baker said while the rebound shows local industry is strong, there are only about 117 workers available in the community according to state statistics.

There are 3,750 total workers in Hancock County.

Most workers filling the employment rolls in local industry and business commute into Hancock County from the surrounding region.

“Shortages that exist speak to workforce issues in the current market,” Baker said. “This is a major issue for recruiting industry and filling jobs, and it will not change overnight.”

Baker said organizations such as Hancock County Schools and Owensboro Community and Technical College must remain focused on continuing to prepare students to enter the workforce and fill the increasingly technical jobs available in Kentucky.

Judge/Executive Johnny “Chic” Roberts said Kentucky currently ranks 49th in the United States in workforce participation rates, with only 56 percent of people 18 to 65 years old in the workforce.

Baker said the foundation continues to be in touch with Big Rivers regarding the eventual demolition of the Coleman Station generating plant and the site’s future.

“Once that site is cleared, it presents an opportunity for development of industry,” Baker said. “The inventory of mega-sites for industrial development has been exhausted across Kentucky. The future for the site is exciting and well be popular for prospects.”

The Coleman Station site contains 730 acres, and offers a river port for loading and unloading along the banks of the Ohio River. Complete Demolition Services of Louisville is currently working the demolition and remediation contract at the site.

In other business, Fiscal Court:

  • Accepted the amended 2021 budget and excess fees settlement of the office of Sheriff Dale Bozarth. The total budget for the department was $431,497, with Bozarth presenting a check for $156,805 in excess fees for the county General Fund. Excess fees for 2020 totaled $127,000.
  • Accepted the Treasurer’s Report for December 2021 and January. Roberts reported the December balance was $7.46 million, up from $5.318 million in December 2020. The January balance was $7.65 million, compare to $5.53 million in January 2021.
  • Accepted the Occupational Tax report, with the balance at $2.9 million, up from $2.35 million a year earlier.
  • Approved a resolution of support which will be forwarded to the Kentucky Public Service Commission regarding the application by Kenergy to construct a broadband network throughout its service area with partner Kinect. Kenergy is scheduled for a hearing before the PSC on March 31.
  • Approved a resolution stating intent to utilize American Rescue Plan Act funds to complete a project to replace the aging emergency communications system used by local governmental agencies. The project is estimated to be at least $2.3 million.

By C. Josh Givens

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