Recently, I was honored by Speaker-Elect Jeff Hoover to serve as the Chairman of the newly restructured House Committee on Economic Development and Workforce Investment. This subject has long been a priority of mine in the legislature, and I appreciate the recognition and opportunity to lead Kentucky in this vital area.
For far too long, Kentucky has lagged behind our neighboring states when it comes to economic development. As we have grown stagnant, states such as Tennessee and Indiana have found innovative ways to attract new and grow existing businesses within their borders. Kentucky has to take a similar approach before we are left far behind, and I look forward to leading a committee with such goals in mind.
I know some across the state may have been concerned when they saw the former Labor and Industry committee is no longer listed among standing committees in the House of Representatives. I want to reassure all Kentuckians the issues of working men and women will not be forgotten, nor will they be ignored. Rather, House leadership has recognized those issues go hand-in-hand with true economic development. The jurisdiction of the former Labor and Industry committee has been termed as Workforce Investment, and has been coupled with economic development for a more holistic approach to these issues.
With these areas finally combined into one committee, we will be able to address issues more effectively creating a better economic climate in Kentucky. We will work towards ways to increase the wages of our workforce by providing them more opportunities, both through the attraction of new businesses and the expansion of those located here already. At the same time, we will seek to help our employers by providing them the skilled workforce they need with more educational and vocational opportunities for our workers.
Personally, I look forward to working with employers and labor leaders throughout Kentucky to find common ground to put as many of our citizens to work and increase their earning potential.
There is an old saying, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” This is nowhere more obvious than in the world of economic development. The better economic climate we can create for our state, and in all regions of our state, the better the standard of living for Kentucky families. We need to work with the private sector to create more jobs as well as diversify to meet the needs of a 21st Century economy. Taking proactive steps to do so will find a more competitive job market, leading towards higher wages and salaries for our labor force. That in turn will lead to more disposable income for Kentuckians, which is a leading factor in economic prosperity.
Our Commonwealth enjoys some great advantages when it comes to economic development opportunities. Geographically, we are located closely to a great portion of the population of the nation. From a manufacturing perspective, we have some of the lowest energy rates due to our abundant natural resources. We have both rural and urban areas, leading to a diverse workforce ready for nearly any opportunity. With these and other advantages, Kentucky stands at the precipice of economic success. We simply need leaders with the vision and resolve to make it happen. Speaking on behalf of the members of the newly restructured House Economic Development and Workforce Investment Committee, we are ready and willing to do our part!
Jim DeCesare is a Kentucky State Representative