Four counties collaborating to create more jobs

The river counties want you to notice what they have to offer. Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, and Hickman are working together to better market themselves and, hopefully, deliver high paying jobs to you.

We first told you in this story that they’re looking to build a river port in Ballard County near the old Verso plant site.

It would allow ships and barges to load and unload. The traffic could increase with the newly opened Panama Canal expansion this summer that allows ships to pass through Central America.

Hickman County Judge Executive Kenny Wilson and the judge executives from Ballard, Carlisle, and Fulton recently hired the consulting firm CivicPoint to help them create economic opportunities.

“To promote our region because, to be honest with you, we are a long way from Frankfort,” Wilson said.

Carlisle County Judge Executive Greg Terry says CivicPoint is starting with an economic study.

“The study will determine what the best avenue is for us to move forward, and we are thinking that it is going to be the port in Wickliffe because of the presence of the Verso plant there,” Terry said.

Terry says building the port in one county helps all four counties.

“Anything that can happen over there would benefit our county workforce, jobs that our people need,” Terry said.

The four judge executives meet at least once a month to help move progress along on the project and hope newly passed P3 legislation could help cover costs for the Riverport.

“[P3 legislation allows] for private people to invest in public areas,” Terry said.

Those are potential opportunities Wilson says can help bring the students that graduate from their school system back home.

“Have a good place to work, with excellent, high-paying jobs, and our citizens here now need the same thing,” Wilson said.

He says they have nothing to lose from the project, but a lot to gain.

“We really think it’s going to pay off," Wilson said. "Our countryside is beautiful here in our area, and our four counties. We have some of the top farmers that there are in the world."

The counties must first establish a river port authority. Terry says members from every county will make up a board that will negotiate with private investors. The consulting firm says, if the private sector doesn’t show interest, they’ll explore other opportunities.

Terry says CivicPoint is also working on six implementation committees area residents are encouraged to join: port authority, tourism, agricultural technology, education and workforce development, small business and entrepreneurship, and regional asset and infrastructure development.

You can find out more about the committees and economic developments at the first annual Confluence of the River County Economic Development Project on Oct. 24 and 25. More information is attached in their flyer below.

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