Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer speaks at a press conference announcing the findings of the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement report while Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Amy Liu of the Brookings Institute look on.
Lexington, KY – After two years of work, the Bluegrass Economic Advancement Movement (BEAM) has produced a 60-page report for what a 22-county region anchored by Lexington and Louisville needs to do collaboratively to become a hub for advanced manufacturing.
While creating a stronger workforce equipped with the technical and engineering skills to tackle the needs of manufacturers proved to be the top priority of a board made up of CEOs, education, labor and business leaders with oversight aided by the Brookings Institute, the mayors who first conceived the idea of this collaboration are looking at how it can continue on.
“What we’re doing here is creating a new norm,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said in an interview about the findings of the BEAM report, titled “Seizing the Manufacturing Moment: An Economic Growth Plan for the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky.”
“It’ll be more likely that succeeding mayors of these two cities will work together. I’ve never envisioned a big structure; this is more about setting goals, strategies, action steps, advocating for the super-region model and leveraging the strengths,” Gray said.
Facts complied by the BEAM report found:
· Almost 2 million people live in the BEAM region, and it accounts for $92 billion in gross domestic product — or 53 percent of the state total.
· The region contains more than 1,600 firms, producing a variety of goods (including 97 percent of the world’s bourbon).
· Over the past three decades, manufacturing employment and growth have not kept pace with the nation — but the region still has 100,000 manufacturing jobs.
· Manufacturers are investing billions in central Kentucky, and the number of jobs posted in manufacturing in Kentucky has risen 66 percent in the last two years.