The following is an op-ed piece authored by Kentucky Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ashli Watts
The saying is true-if you build it, they will come. Just look at the recent census data showing the areas in Kentucky which saw the most growth over the last 10 years. These areas can credit solid infrastructure as key to attracting businesses and jobs, which lead to population growth.
Scott County tops the list in Kentucky, reporting 20% growth over the last 10 years. When asked what factors brought about this tremendous growth, Scott County Judge Executive Joe Covington said, “Location, location, location, jobs, jobs, jobs. We’re blessed and challenged that you have interstate 75, and then 64, that both run through Scott County.”
Investing in our infrastructure is key to attracting and retaining business, creating jobs, and growing our population in our Commonwealth. And the good news is that there is an opportunity that can do all this and position the Commonwealth for unprecedented growth.
With the recent passage of The Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act by the U.S. Senate, Kentucky is poised for additional growth, but it is up to our leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives to put politics aside, focus on policy, and get this bill across the finish line.
You just have to turn on the news to see how divisive politics can be. But the recent bipartisan vote in the Senate and the broad support for this bill from various groups, including both business and labor, show that proper investment in our nation’s infrastructure is something on which we all can agree.
Key to reaching this historic agreement was our senior senator, Leader Mitch McConnell, who with his leadership and vote showed Kentuckians that he knows this issue does not fall on one side of the aisle or the other. Regardless of who holds the control in D.C., we must do what is right for Kentucky.
With the passage of this Act, every county in Kentucky will benefit with increased funding to our highways, bridges, airports, water systems, and broadband deployment. Should this measure pass the House, Kentucky would receive $4.6 billion over the next five years to address our infrastructure needs. We would also receive an estimated $438 million in direct bridge funding to address major bridge and road projects, like the I-69 and Brent Spence bridges.
The funding would help complete our Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) corridors, boost up our public transit priorities, place $25 billion aside for airport infrastructure improvements, add money available for the Abandoned Mine Land Reclamation Fund, invest in broadband expansion, and so much more.
The last year and a half have been trying time for our state and nation. We need to get people back to work. We need Kentucky to re-establish itself in this ever-changing economy as a leader when it comes to best places to live, work, and raise a family. This bipartisan infrastructure package will allow us to do all this and more. We urge our congressional delegation to join Leader McConnell and support this commonsense legislation and make an investment in Kentucky’s future.